My ‘Formula’ for a Perfect Weekday Lunch


[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #00adef;”] I[/dropcap] was talking to my friend Ellen today.

She was lamenting the fact that while she has healthy breakfasts and dinners ‘dialled in’, she struggles with lunch.

So I did what any good friend with a food blog does, I shared a few suggestions and then promised to write a blog post.

And here it is Ellen!

At the risk of sounding like the geeky food scientist that I am, here’s my ‘formula’ for healthy lunches…

My ‘Formula’ for a Perfect Weekday Lunch

Most days my lunch is what I think of as an ‘abundance bowl’. It’s more substantial than a salad and can be warm or cold. And there are endless possibilities so I never get bored.

100g (3.5oz) PROTEIN
+ 200g (7oz) VEGGIES
+ 2-3 Tablespoons FAT

My most common faves are poached eggs or sardines or leftover cooked meat from dinner. Here’s a list to get you thinking:

  • Poached Eggs
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Leftover Roast Chicken
  • Poached Chicken
  • Canned Sardines / Tuna / Salmon
  • Smoked Chicken
  • Smoked Salmon / Other Smoked Fish
  • Ham / Salami / Prosciutto
  • All Cheeses
  • Cooked Bacon
  • Poached Sausages
  • Cooked Chorizo
  • Cooked / Canned Chickpeas, Lentils, Beans

Or it can be a combo of any of these.

I use leftover salads / veg from other meals. Lately I’ve also been prepping a big batch of one or two veg on the weekend. My current faves are steamed broccoli and cooked greens (usually kale).

  • Washed Salad Leaves
  • Baby Spinach Leaves
  • Cooked Greens / Kale / Spainch / Chard / Collards / Asian Greens
  • Defrosted + Warmed Frozen Greens
  • Any Roast Veg
  • Any Steamed Veg
  • Any Grilled Veg
  • Shaved Raw Cabbage
  • Grated Raw Veg / Carrots / Beets / Zucchini / Cauliflower / Broccoli
  • Cooked Cabbage
  • Cooked / Canned Chickpeas, Lentils, Beans
  • Any other veg you’re happy to eat!

To make sure your lunch is super delicious AND filling enough. It’s essential to include some fats. You’ll notice some of these double up as proteins and veggies as well. So no need to stick to the 2-3 tablespoons for those.

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – either a drizzle or as a dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pesto
  • Pate (great for minerals!)
  • Tahini
  • Hummus (not that high in fat so use liberally)
  • Miso Harissa Sauce
  • Tahini Miso Turmeric Sauce
  • Nuts + Nut Butters
  • Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Full Fat Yoghurt / Coconut Yoghurt (not very high in fat so use lots more than 3 tablespoons)
  • Soft Butter (preferably Kerrygold Irish butter)
  • Avocado + Guacamole (use as a vegetable as well)
  • Or see 10 ‘Secret Weapon’ Saucesfor more ideas

These are mostly leftovers for me. However I sometimes make a batch of mayo or other sauce on the weekend specifically for lunches.

If you’re more active, you may need to increase the quantities of fat or add some carbs as well.

More lunch ideas

Need your own ‘food blogger friend’ to write a special post just for you?

I’d love to help out.
Share your ideas in the comments below.

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x

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  • similar to my lunch. I eat a salad for lunch every single day, with a fatty olive oil based dressing, some cheese, and seeds or nuts.

  • I like your “formula”. My perspective on the veggie category is different from yours: lentils and most beans (all except chickpeas) count as fast carbs and/or protein rather than veggie. People who are watching their carbs would want to know that.

  • This is so helpful! I love having meal planning broken down into a formula. I have been looking for something like this for years! Any ideas for breakfast, snack, and dinner formulas? Thanks!

    • So glad you found it helpful Susan!

      For dinner you could do the same but increase the veg to 400g (14oz) and increase the fat slightly.

      I rarely eat breakfast these days but am sure you could do something similar to the lunch formula – or decrease it slightly. And snacks I tend to have 1-2 teaspoons linseeds (flax) with 3-4 tablespoons yoghurt. Sometimes I add nuts or other seeds or a few tablespoons of double cream to make it more substantial.


  • Jules, thanks so much for writing this all up for me. I’ll never be stuck again. So many great ideas and so much flexibility here. You’re the best. X

  • Hi Jules,

    I really like this post. Was wondering if you could clarify a few things for me:

    1. Do you actually weigh the grams in protein and veggies? (How about eggs, etc?)
    2. Do you take into account whether is lean protein or not and adjust the fat serving accordingly?
    3. Same with veggies, do you consider 100g of greens to be the same as 100g of pulses? If not, do you adjust your servings of protein or fat?

    Thank you very much in advance :)

    • Thanks Carla!

      1. I go through phases Carla – sometimes I weigh. Sometimes I don’t.

      2. No I don’t really differentiate between lean and fattier protein – I don’t treat it as an exact science – more a general guideline.

      3. And again no. I don’t really worry about it. I only have pulses on special occasions now because even though they’re low GI they aren’t great for my blood sugar…

      Glad you found this helpful!

  • Hi Jules, I’m not sure if your little boys have started at school or kindergarten yet, but are you starting to send them off with lunches yet? Have you any ideas for us mothers who really need to get some healthy but simple school lunch formulas going?
    Thanks so much, you could potentially be a lifesaver here!

    • They’re in family daycare and preschool so the lunches have begun Penny!

      For Finbar in family daycare it’s easier because his carer will warm things up for him so he normally has:
      Morning Tea
      – yoghurt
      – leftover dinner (pasta, fried rice, bangers & mash)
      – fruit
      Afternoon tea
      – cake or cookies (I bake in bulk and freeze in individual serves so just grab something out the night before)

      Fergal is a little trickier because at preschool there’s no heating options and they keep their lunches in the fridge so it needs to be palatable cold.
      – cooked protein (leftover chicken, lamb, sausages) or cheese
      – raw veg (usually carrot – I should up my game here!)
      – crackers (currently he loves BBQ shapes)
      – fruit (roast pears, defrosted frozen cherries, grapes, berries, orange)

      The preschool provides morning and afternoon tea though so that makes it easier.

      Hope that helps!

      Will make a note to write a proper blog post on this next year when Fergal starts school.

  • Hi Jules,

    Sorry to take the formula to the next level, I tend to over analyse, but if you select a Protein that is also a fat or fat that is also a protein, does that mean 1 ‘portion’ covers both?
    i.e. if my protein for a specific bowl is nuts, does that mean I do not get to select a fat on top of it, as nuts is already a fat and a protein. I realise it is a guideline only, but how do you think about this?

    • Good question Judith.

      If it was something like nuts as the protein I’d probably only add a little more fat to make it palatable if needed. But wouldn’t feel the need to add extra fat as the nuts would probably be filling enough.

      The problem with formulas is trying to cover all circumstances!

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