Basing your diet on vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and pulses, and eating less red and processed meat, salt and high calorie foods is just one of the things we promote at World Cancer Research Fund UK. This is because having a healthy diet can reduce the risk of many cancers including bowel, stomach and lung cancer. However it can sometimes be difficult to make working lunches healthy.

Here are some top tips for satisfying healthy lunches that won’t have you reaching for the biscuit tin by 3pm and won’t break the bank.

Leftover lunches

The ideal budget lunch solution is to take leftovers from the previous night’s meal to work, which can be popped in the microwave and ready within minutes. Stews and casseroles are ideal for leftover lunches, as are pasta dishes. Leftovers from a Sunday roast can also be used up for Monday lunch – for example, you could eat the cooked meat cold, with a salad.

The versatile new potato

New potatoes make a low-calorie but filling accompaniment to a salad or plate of leftovers – three to four new potatoes contain just 50 calories. You can take pre-cooked new potatoes into work and reheat them with the rest of your meal or eat them cold. Alternatively, you can cook new potatoes in the microwave – just place in a covered, microwavable dish with a tablespoon of water and cook for about 5 minutes.

Beans, beans, good for the heart…

One way to make a salad more filling is by adding tinned beans or pulses to your leaves and salad veg. Beans and pulses, such as cannellini beans or chickpeas, are a good source of protein so make a healthy alternative to meat and keep you feeling full. They are also cheap and ready to eat straight out of the tin. Have a look at our salad recipes for inspiration.

Soup of the day

Soups are satisfying, warming and, of course, an easy way to get at least one of your 5 A DAY. Homemade soup can be quick and easy to make – check out our healthy soup recipes for ideas this autumn. Make a batch at the weekend to last you a few days. If you make too much, you can always pop a few portions in the freezer until you need them.

If it’s not practical to make your own then soup bought from a supermarket or sandwich shop can still be a healthy option. Choose soups with plenty of veg and steer clear of those labelled ‘cream of’ or that contain processed meat such as ham, bacon or chorizo.

Lighter fillings

Avoiding mayonnaise, cheese and meat in rich, creamy dressings can help reduce the calories in your sandwich. Healthy options include plain chicken, turkey or tuna, all with fresh, crisp salad. Adding spring onions, some fresh herbs or a teaspoon of fresh tomato salsa is a great way to inject more flavour!

Check the label

If you’re choosing a shop-bought lunch, take a moment to look at the nutritional information. Chain sandwich shops often label the calorie and salt content of their products, and have more information on their websites so you can check if their soup of the day is a healthy option before you even leave your desk. Front-of-pack traffic light labels provide this information too. Choose labels which are mostly green for salt, sugar and fat.

3pm cravings

  • For days when the craving can’t be silenced, it’s a good idea to keep some healthy snacks to hand. Here are some ideas:
  • Flavoured rice cakes
  • Dried fruit
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Wholegrain or baked crisps (buy a multipack – the bags are usually smaller)
  • Skinny, unsalted popcorn
  • Fresh fruit (take advantage of supermarket special offers by sharing with a colleague)
  • Vegetable sticks, including carrots, cucumber and celery (on their own or with a dip such as reduced-fat houmous, cream cheese or cottage cheese)
  • Low-fat yoghurts

Read about how a healthy diet can reduce the risk of cancer.

Look out for our next post where we talk about being active, sedentary jobs and cancer prevention.


Towers Challenge


THIS autumn, World Cancer Research Fund is giving desk-based workers around the county the opportunity to get active by climbing eight of the most iconic buildings around the world without leaving the comfort of their office.


To sign your company up for this exciting challenge, visit

Rachel Clark

Health Promotion Manager, World Cancer Research Fund UK