From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

For many Canadians, lunchtime at work usually means waiting in long lineups at the cafeteria or a fast-food outlet for a quick grab-and-go lunch. Why not reduce the stress of buying lunch at work and maximize your time for physical activity by bringing your lunch to work? With a little pre-planning, a home-made lunch can buy you precious time and make it easier to enjoy heart-healthy eating during your workday.

Healthy lunches have never been simpler with all the choices at the grocery store these days. Look for the Health Check symbol, the Heart and Stroke Foundation's food program and your assurance that the product is a healthy choice. Use this shopping checklist to guide you through the aisles and stock your kitchen with the makings for healthy stress-free lunches.

Tip #1. In the produce section
Pick up ready-made, pre-washed salads and pre-cut veggies and fresh fruit. Buy unsalted nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts and sunflower seeds in the bulk area to add to tossed salads or enjoy as a snack. A small handful is a serving.

  • Produce grab-and-go lunch idea: avocado, tomato, cucumber and dark-green leafy lettuce for a great salad. Use a small container to carry the dressing.

Tip #2. At the deli counter
Choose lower-fat cold cuts and meats such as roast turkey, chicken, ham or lean roast beef to use in your sandwiches. Compare the Nutrition Facts on pre-packaged cold cuts and look for varieties that are lower in fat and sodium (salt).

  • Deli grab-and-go lunch idea: roast turkey, Dijon mustard, romaine lettuce and tomato rolled up and stuffed into a whole-wheat pita.

Tip #3. In the store bakery
Keep a selection of whole-grain breads on hand and change them up week to week. Try pitas, buns, tortilla wraps, flat breads and English muffins as well as the standard loaves to keep sandwiches interesting.

  • Bakery grab-and-go lunch idea: pick up some flat bread and a lower-fat dip (roasted red pepper;humus).

Tip #4. At the dairy counter
Select lower-fat single serve yogurts and cheeses made with skim milk to have on hand for packing lunches.

  • Dairy grab-and-go lunch idea: Try a yogurt drink or lower-fat chocolate milk to pack as your lunch-time beverage.

Tip #5. Seasonings and sauces
Search out heart-healthy dressings, seasonings and sauces for making salads and sandwiches. These include herbs and spices, mustards, chutneys, olive oil and canola-oil based dressings, and lower-fat dressings and mayonnaise.

  • Seasonings and sauces grab-and-go lunch idea: try spreading humus (chick-pea dip) or tzaziki (yogurt and cucumber) on sandwiches instead of mayo or butter.

Tip #6. Beverages
Bottled water, 100% fruit juice or mixed vegetable beverages are great options for lunchtime.

  • Beverage grab-and-go lunch idea: keep some tea bags – both caffeinated and herbal – at work for brewing a cup.

Keep in mind that it's best to shop the outer aisles for most of your foods. That's where you'll find the fresh foods in your grocery store. Try making extra servings of dinner, too, so you can take leftovers to work for lunch the next day. And experiment with foods you can put together at work as well such as pizzalets that are easy to make with whole-grain English muffins and your favourite toppings – just pop in the microwave at work and voilà. With a little creativity the possibilities are endless.

For more ideas for shopping for and packing healthy lunches, click below:

Heart&Stroke Shopping List (PDF)

Canadian Health Network and Dietitians of Canada's
Healthy Lunches to Go

Dietitians of CanadaGreat Food Fast Pantry List

Dietitians of Canada - Great Food Fast Shopping Tips

Heart and Stroke Foundation


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This article has been independently researched, written and reviewed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and is based on scientific evidence. The information is for reference and education only. This web article is not intended to be a substitute for a physician'‘s advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should consult your physician for specific information on personal health matters. The Heart and Stroke Foundation assumes no responsibility or liability arising from any error in, or omission of, information or from the use of any information or advice contained within this article.

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