Author: Francesca - Mr Lee's Team
Nowadays we are all so busy it is sometimes difficult to prepare homemade meals for lunch. Whether you are working from home or heading into the office every day, you may struggle to find the time to prepare something from scratch and this may lead you to grab something quick, simple and convenient from the supermarket. Even if you have a packed schedule it is still important to keep this afternoon mealtime balanced and healthy.
In today’s world we have so many options to choose from that it is sometimes difficult to know what the healthiest and most nutritious option is. On top of this, it may be hard to keep away from those yummy cupcakes your colleague brought into the office or, if you are working from home, avoiding overeating might be an arduous task.
Lunch is an important meal because it is what gives us the energy and power we need to plow through the rest of the day. Many things come into planning a proper balanced meal, not only do you need to think of saturated fats and sugar but also about salt and fibre as well as making sure you get enough energy. At this point you may be thinking that eating healthily at lunchtime is a huge challenge, but we can assure you it’s not that difficult!
Meal deals that include ready-made sandwiches or wraps with a bag of crisps or a sweet and a drink are the most popular options for lunch. Nutritionist Frankie Philips points out that many sandwiches are pretty high in saturated fat and even salad bowls can provide as much as half of the total saturated fat limit for the whole day. However, noodle pots can actually be surprisingly low when it comes to these nutritional contents and they are the perfect store cupboard product for those of you working from home (yay!).
We have compared the nutrient content of four grab and go options (3 most popular types of sandwiches and a salad) to the nutrients in three Mr Lee’s instant noodle pots:
The typical ready-made salad, wrap and sandwich include a great amount of calories and are quite high in added sugars and salt and therefore, we should avoid or reduce the amounts of these foods we include in our diet. Public Health England recommends aiming for around 600 calories for a lunchtime meal. If a sandwich alone is approaching that, there’s not much room for anything else, but noodles on the other hand, are very good if you are looking for a healthier option. By choosing a pot of noodles around 230 calories as your main part of the meal there is room to include some other ingredients. You can always bulk up your meal by adding some extra protein such as chicken, beef or nuts or complete this with a healthy snack bar or drink such as iced tea or kombucha.
There are also other ingredients we should look out for when choosing what we are going to put into our bodies. We are always reminded to cut back on sugar, and even savoury sandwiches can have hidden sugars making up to a third of the maximum amount of sugar an adult should be eating a day. Going for lower sugar options is definitely a healthier choice. If you want to learn more about sugar head to our blog post here.
Salt is found in so many of our foods and is another ingredient we should keep track of. Even though sodium occurs naturally in some foods, we should all aim to keep below 6g per day. It’s okay to eat some foods with salt, but we should make sure it’s balanced throughout the whole day. Watch out about adding crisps to a meal deal, a better solution is fresh fruit or veggie sticks.
There is something we can all eat more of and that’s fibre. Most of us don’t eat enough, so there is definite room for improvement. Add some extra fruit and veg, “pimp” your noodles with unsalted nuts or edamame beans or sprinkle a handful of seeds over your lunch to boost those nutrients.
Checking the ingredients included on food labels is also important. Many foods are processed to some degree, but try to look for clean labels, ingredients that you recognise, real foods rather than chemical additives.
Sometimes, the ingredients might explain why a food is higher in salt, for example the miso powder used to flavour Mr Lee’s Zen Garden Vegetables noodles is salty in itself but also gives an authentic flavour to the recipe and provides a range of benefits. It’s always worth asking if an ingredient has been included for authentic flavour or whether it’s just masking other poor quality ingredients.
Taking the time to plan a nutritious and healthy lunchtime meal is essential as this is what helps us keep energised throughout the day, boosting our productivity, creativity and our overall mood.
We at Mr Lee’s look into all these different aspects and work hard to offer healthier food options to our customers. Our noodles are made with real freeze-dried ingredients, are low in salt and saturated fats and are certified low in sugar by SugarWise. We also keep an eye out for calories, with our products ranging from 208-274 calories, and our labels are free from added nasties like palm oil or MSG.