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Bowl of soup with some bread

This is meal most likely to be eaten away from home.

Your lunch meal should provide about 1/3 of your needs for energy (calories) and key nutrients such as protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

At lunchtime most people choose between the following options:

Canteen Meal


  • Usually offers more choice including hot and cold meals.
  • A good way to enjoy a meal with friends.
  • Can be good value.


  • Can be tempting to eat too much and/or foods you don’t really need.
  • You don’t always know how foods are prepared.
  • There may be long queues to get served.
  • If you turn up late there may be little choice left.

Packed Lunch


  • You are in control and can choose the foods you like and which are good for you.
  • Usually the cheapest option.
  • You can use up left-overs like cold chicken or canned tuna.
  • You can eat it inside as well as outside in the sunshine.


  • Preparation time, you need to be organised.
  • You need something suitable to store it in.

The High Street


  • Gets you out for a walk at lunchtime.
  • Nice as an occasional treat.


  • More expensive
  • Food bought on the high street can be high in calories and fat e.g. fried chicken and chips, burgers, pies and sausage rolls.
  • You don’t always know how food has been prepared (sandwiches may contain full-fat mayonnaise or thickly spread margarine).

Lunch On The Go


  • Eating lunch as you work or grabbing something from a vending machine isn't the healthiest of ways to spend your lunch-break. Try to avoid it if you can.

Lunch At Home


  • Familiar surroundings and again you are in control of what you eat.
  • Great opportunity to reheat left-overs from the night before.
  • You can experiment with new tastes and food combinations.
  • If it’s a sunny day you can opt for a picnic.


  • If you are working from home, or you are home on holiday, it’s easy to forget to have a proper meal. Try to plan what you are going to eat, so you don’t just grab anything.
  • It might not be much fun if you are eating on your own.

Great Lunchtime Meals

Homemade or pre-prepared vegetable soups

Try serving with crusty wholemeal bread.


Try whole grain or wholemeal breads, pitta pockets or French sticks.

Fill with thinly sliced meat, fish, eggs or reduced-fat cheese.

Add salad vegetables – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, grated carrot

Snacks on toast

Try baked beans, poached eggs, sardines, mashed banana, peanut butter and follow up with fruit


Try pre-prepared salads that include pasta, rice or beans. Make your own using low-fat dressings

Jacket Potatoes

Fill with half-fat cheese, mushrooms and bacon, baked beans, left over stews, casseroles or curry, prawns or tuna and sweetcorn.

Try out the following ideas for smart lunches that you can prepare at home:

Check out the Recipes section for more ideas.

Lunch Recipes

Get some great recipe ideas for lunch time.


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