Often lunchtimes are our downfall when trying to eat healthy, we make a good start to the day at breakfast but end up pigging out at lunchtimes after our hunger cravings get too much and reach for another bag of crisps, and another, and another…

In the past few years, we have become so uninspired with lunchtimes, claiming we don’t have enough time to make anything delicious and exciting, meaning we often opt for the bog standard shop bought sandwiches with a packet of crisps and a sugary soft drink for a convenient, but unhealthy lunchtime fix. If you aren’t excited or not looking forward to what you’re putting into your body, then it’s hard to get motivated!

So – the solution is to make a few changes and a bit of effort to create something not only nutritious but delicious for your lunch too. Have a look at this week’s lunchtime meal plan and try something new for lunch this week!

Monday: Cut out bread this lunchtime to beat the bloat after the weekend with these lettuce wraps – recipe below. Whilst bread is an important staple in our diet, we shouldn’t eat too much as it does contain a lot of calories and sometimes salt too. Us Brits seem to have an endless love affair with the good old white sliced loaf, and can often find ourselves eating it with every meal. Try to avoid that most definitely, and aim for one portion (ie. two slices) a day and always go for brown or granary instead of white – gram for gram it contains many more essential nutrients and dietary fibre. Simply top a whole little gem lettuce leaf with flakes of tinned tuna, strips of chicken or ham and tomatoes and cucumber.

Tuesday: Brighten up your Tuesdays with a burger for lunch. Yep – that’s right, a burger! But a burger with a twist. Forget your fatty loaded beef burgers and try falafel. Falafel is basically just whizzed up chickpeas with Moroccan spices and herbs – and is absolutely delicious and contains a fraction of the fat compared to your average beef burger. You can either buy it in your local supermarket or make it yourself using Studentrecipes very own falafel recipe, it’s so much cheaper to DIY and easier than you think! Either serve your falafel burgers in a wholemeal burger bun or pitta bread and top with salsa, avocado, salad or raita.

Wednesday: Try a baked sweet potato with zesty lemon tuna and a mixed salad for your lunch today. Whip up a zesty lemon dressing by combining a few tablespoons of olive oil with a zest of a lemon (or two, depending on your taste) and lots of fresh herbs (basil, parsley and coriander) and lots of pepper. This is a basic ingredient list – you could try a bit of lime if you like too – experiment! Make a lot so you can keep it handy in the fridge to put on top of your salads. Mix with one can of drained tuna rather than lathering it in mayonnaise or salad cream and sprinkle on top of your baked sweet potato. Try to swap your average white potato for sweet – they count as one of your 5-a-day and contain many more nutrients than white.

Thursday: For a super healthy Thursday lunch, try roasted vegetable cous cous with shredded mozzarella. You can buy packets of flavoured cous cous everywhere nowadays – so pick as you please! Dice some peppers and red onions and roast with some olive oil at 180C for around 45-50 minutes the night before, giving them a toss every now and then and simply assemble with the cous cous and top with some shredded half fat mozzarella! Delicious. Cous cous is a healthier choice than pasta or rice as it contains less calories.

Friday: Treat yourself on a Friday to a mini mezze of dips! You can buy a trio pack of reduced fat hummus which you can serve with either carrot sticks, peppers, cucumber or celery. Hummus is made from chickpeas like falafel, and so is a great source of protein which will keep your tummy full and satisfied until dinnertime.

Saturday: Have a go at making your very own pesto by using this Studentrecipes pesto recipe – but make a few changes to lower the saturated fat content, you can enjoy it whilst trying to eat healthy. Swap the pine nuts for almonds, as pine nuts have a high fat content whilst as almonds contain much less. Use a mix of olive oil and rapeseed, whist olive oil is a healthier option than sunflower, rapeseed still contains up to 30% less fat. Halve the amount of parmesan and grate in lots of fresh nutmeg as it will give you that same nutty flavour found in parmesan. Serve with 75g portion of wholemeal pasta and some roasted veggies leftover from Thursday!

Sunday: As it’s a Sunday, I’ll let you off… How about an egg mayo butty to kick that hangover that’s still lurking? Hard boil two eggs, mash and mix with one tbsp lighter salad cream, one tbsp light mayonnaise, ½ tsp Dijon mustard and mix through one stick of chopped celery and a handful of fresh herbs with plenty of pepper and dollop into a fresh granary roll with a few salad leaves and slices of cucumber or tomato. This lower fat crunchy egg mayo is a great hangover cure, but without the tonne of calories and fat that usually come with that cure!

Happy healthy lunching students! Got any healthy lunch recipes of your own? Make sure you upload them to the Studentrecipes.com website!