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Nutrition

5 cheap and healthy lunchbox ideas

Cut down on calories and boost your savings by taking your own lunch into work or on trips

Taking your own lunch means you have total control over what you eat – fresh ingredients that you like, the portion size you need and no unknown additives. Plus, it costs a whole lot less than food from high-street sandwich shops.

Discover our five healthy recipes, one for every working day:

Beetroot and feta with bulgur wheat

As well as being one of your five a day, beetroot contains inorganic nitrates which have been shown to temporarily reduce blood pressure, improve athletic performance and enhance cognitive ability.

Cook your bulgur wheat according to the instructions on the packet and leave it to cool. Then mix in a couple of chopped beetroots, baby spinach leaves, about 50g of chopped feta and some mint leaves, pour a little salad dressing over it and you have one delicious, colourful lunch.

Spicy chicken and avocado wrap

If you’re having chicken one evening, pop an extra breast under the grill ready for your lunch the next day. It pairs beautifully with avocado, which is a great source of healthy fat, potassium and fibre.

Rub the chicken breast with a mix of paprika, lemon zest, grated garlic, chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce before cooking. Chop the chicken into slices and roll them in a wholemeal wrap with chopped avocado.

Falafel in pitta

Chickpeas are high in vital fibres. Fibre is so beneficial for reducing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers that the World Health Organization recommends eating 30g every day.

Fry some onion and garlic and add them to a bowl of drained chickpeas along with ground cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Combine the ingredients with a potato masher then mix in an egg. You can also find delicious falafel in the shop, if you’re short on time.

Divide the mixture into 16 balls and refrigerate them for 30 minutes before baking them in a hot oven for 25 minutes. Pop four falafel into a wholemeal pitta bread, and spread with hummus, along with some chopped tomato and cucumber. Freeze the remainder for another day.

Smoked mackerel and potato salad

This salad is a great way to enjoy the health benefits of fish without offending the senses of those around you. Mackerel is an oily fish, high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for keeping your brain working.

Wash some new potatoes, keeping their skins on for maximum vitamin and fibre content, then boil them and chop them into quarters. Mix some creme fraiche, lemon juice and black pepper, add the potatoes, a flaked smoked mackerel fillet and a generous handful of watercress, and finish by sprinkling chopped spring onions over the top.

Pesto pasta with roasted veg

Sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, grilled vegetables are great as a side with a main meal or eaten cold the next day in a pasta salad. Choose from the veg you have in your fridge – courgettes, red peppers, red onions and butternut squash, for example – and grill them with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook some wholemeal pasta and mix in the grilled veg with halved cherry tomatoes, a generous tablespoon of pesto and a handful of roasted pine nuts.