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Using the Food Pyramid for Packed Lunches

By: Leigh Sexton - Updated: 20 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Packed Lunch Sandwich Lunch Healthy

Many people would like to take a packed lunch but get bored with the process or can’t think of what to pack. Using the food pyramid to help you create healthy lunches can also spice up your lunchtime and provide you with a constant source of enjoyable food.

Food Pyramid Packed Lunches

One important feature of preparing packed lunches is to make sure you have enough supplies on hand so that you can ring the changes every day. A store cupboard with nuts and dried fruit helps you to ensure that you get to eat something different, tasty and healthy every day.


The base of the food pyramid is based on cereals and you can experiment here with a very wide range of breads such as: bagels, muffins, pitta bread, seed breads, rolls, and so on.

Then there are non-bread cereals such as rice cakes or even cereal itself – pack a non-sugared cereal with some skimmed milk in a separate container and have it as the first course of your lunch. You can take porridge and reheat it at work if your company has a microwave, or muesli and yoghurt with a side helping of fresh fruit, supplying three food groups in one.

Or what about noodles, rice or even packing a really good soup in an insulated container and taking along some home made croutons to sprinkle on it. You should try to get two servings of cereal into your packed lunch.

Fruit And Vegetables

The next layer of the pyramid contains fruit and vegetables and this is the area where many packed lunches are boring but don’t need to be. The traditional lunch of a sandwich, an apple and a drink is pretty mundane but if you slice up the apple and take a small container of dip to give it some excitement, it becomes a completely different thing – sprinkle lemon or lime juice on apple slices to stop them browning and take a little peanut butter, cream cheese or honey to serve as a dip.

Other fruits that work well are oranges, peeled and segmented and put in a bag or container for easier eating and strawberries, pineapple, and melon. You can make a fruit salad with any combination of fresh fruits in a little fruit juice to stop browning. There’s always dried fruits – mango and papaya, prunes and apple rings, raisins and cranberries – there’s no need to be bored by your lunchtime fruit.

Vegetables can be even more fun: baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and celery sticks are probably the easiest vegetables to pack for hand eating or you can stir fry fresh vegetables with a little soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds to make a great lunch over noodles that have been previously heated and well drained.

Proteins and Dairy

Proteins and dairy foods are near the top of the pyramid and only need to be quite small portions. Protein could be a couple of meatballs or cocktail sausages for meat eaters, or a serving of sprouting beans or hummus for vegetarians. Nuts make a good source of protein for all diets, as long as they are not too heavily salted, so a handful of almonds or cashews is a good addition to your lunch.

If you’ve already packed yoghurt or milk, you may have already provided yourself with enough dairy, but you can also take a small cheese portion which makes a good mid morning snack too.

Top Of The Pyramid Snacks

We can’t forget fats and sugars. A tiny treat tucked into your lunch, whether it’s a good but tiny chocolate bar, a piece of toffee, or a little section of dried meat like biltong, will give you the feeling that your lunch has something special to offer. Don’t let the unhealthy foods make up more than about an eighth of the overall lunch weight or volume though.

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