Why bring your lunch?

Because it’s good! When you bring your lunch, not only are you sure to have a meal you like, but it will usually be more nutritious and economical. Eating a nutritious meal at lunchtime keeps you more focused and productive in the afternoon.

What should you put in your lunchbox?

Main meal: Get inspired by the balanced plate model (in French only)

Protein (protéines): Make sure your meal contains enough protein to keep you going. Choose lean protein rather than deli (cured) meats.

Grains and starches (starches): A balanced meal should contain carbohydrates for energy. Choose whole grain products for their higher fibre content. Fibre helps you feel full and helps control your blood sugar.

Vegetables (légumes): For a good dose of nutrients and fibre, add vegetables galore. As raw vegetable sticks, in salads, in soups, as toppings for sandwiches: they work everywhere! In addition, they will add colour and texture to your meal. 


Water is the best option for healthy hydration. To enhance the flavour, you can add fruit or herbs, such as mint or basil.

Think about snacks

While snacks are not mandatory for people with diabetes, it is still a good idea to have nutritious choices on hand if you get a craving. Here are some examples of snack foods to slip into your lunch box:

  • Fruit (fresh, dried, fruit sauce with no added sugar)
  • Milk desserts
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Raw vegetable sticks
  • Small homemade muffin
  • Homemade soft granola bar
  • Fortified, unsweetened soy beverage

The key to success: planning!

A few minutes a week of planning will save you time and money, not to mention the satisfaction you gain from eating a good homemade lunch.

  • Plan your lunches for the upcoming week:
    • Identify the dinners that provide leftovers;
    • Start from what you have in your pantry and refrigerator;
    • Get inspired by magazines, cookbooks, websites, flyers, etc.
    • Get creative and dare to try new foods.
  • Plan for foods that can be used as nutritious snacks.
  • Make a grocery list.
  • When you get back from shopping, wash and trim the vegetables and fruit right away.
  • Set aside time to prepare certain foods in advance (e.g., marinating meat, cooking chicken or eggs for salads or sandwiches, cooking quinoa or barley for a salad, etc.). You can do this when you get home from shopping, during a half-day of cooking on the weekend, or even in the evening while making supper.
  • Pack your lunch the night before. A lunch prepared when you’re rushed in the morning may be incomplete and less tasty.

Here are a few resources for inspiration:

Transform your suppers into tasty next-day lunches

When cooking supper, double or even triple the quantities. That way you will have enough to fill individual-size containers for lunch the next day or to freeze for later use. This is a quick way to prepare your lunch box.

Get creative by turning leftovers from your evening meals into different lunch dishes to add variety. Here are some examples of transformations:

Roast beef, boiled baby potatoes and vegetablesSet aside a few slices of roast beef for a sandwich filling. Add Dijon mustard, arugula and cheddar cheese. For a balanced meal, accompany with raw vegetable sticks.
Set aside a few potatoes for a salad. When chilled, add pieces of cucumber and celery, cheese, chives and a plain yogurt-based dressing.
Macaroni with meatCook extra for a pasta salad. Add peppers, green onions, tomatoes, black olives, crumbled Feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice and dried oregano.
Chili with meatTurn your leftover chili into burritos! Put chili on a tortilla, add cheese, avocado slices and cilantro. Accompany it with a green salad.
Marinated chicken, barley, and roasted vegetablesCube leftover chicken and vegetables. Toss with the rice and add a little vegetable oil and lemon juice.
Vegetable soupTurn the light vegetable soup you made as a supper starter into a balanced meal in a bowl by adding canned beans or cubed leftover cooked chicken, and accompany it with a slice of whole grain bread.
Steamed vegetablesAre you having steamed vegetables as a side dish with your supper? While you’re at it, steam a few more and cut them up for a salad. Add canned tuna, homemade dressing and accompany with whole grain crackers.

Foods to explore

Aside from a lack of organization, the monotony of eating the same lunch day after day is probably the main barrier to making your own lunches. Mix it up! Here are some examples of nutritious and versatile foods worth exploring:

  • Tofu spread: Tofu spread is a delicious sandwich topping, along with vegetables and grated cheese, or as a dip for raw vegetables and crackers. It’s easy and quick to make and can also be purchased at the grocery store (usually in the same place as the hummus).
  • Edamame: This protein-rich soybean is perfect for garnishing your salads. It can be found in the frozen vegetables section of your grocery store.
  • Plain Greek yogurt: Plain Greek yogurt can be served sweetened for a dessert or snack, as a savory sandwich spread, or to replace mayonnaise in dips.
  • Canned beans: Beans are extremely economical. They are high in protein and fibre, can replace meat in many recipes, and make a great addition to salads.
  • Quinoa, spelt, hulled barley: These grains are high in protein and can be used as a base for delicious and nutritious salads.
  • Canned fish, such as tuna, salmon, sardines: Economical and practical, canned fish can be added to salads and sandwiches or eaten with crackers and raw vegetables for a quick and easy lunch.

Think of your lunch as a combination of separate elements!

You don’t have any lunches ready? No problem! You can put together a nutritious lunch in no time by packing a few separate items into your lunch box.

Cheese cubes
Two hard-boiled eggs
Whole wheat crackers
Raw vegetables
A fruit salad
A can of tuna
A small handful of nuts
Whole wheat crackers
Raw vegetables
An apple
Tofu spread or hummus
Cheese cubes
Mini whole wheat pita
A small green salad
Yogurt with berries

The right equipment

To simplify your lunch preparation, make sure you have:

  • An insulated lunch box: To prevent the growth of bacteria, clean the lunch box every day with hot water and soap. You can also use baking soda to remove odours.
  • An ice (or lunch) pack if you have no access to a refrigerator to keep your lunch cold until lunchtime: It will keep your lunch cold for four to six hours.
  • A thermos if you have no access to a microwave to heat your dishes: Before use, fill the thermos with boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the water and then put your food in it. A thermos will keep its contents hot for about five hours.
  • Microwave-safe dishes.
  • Small covered containers in different sizes: For your raw vegetables, yogurt, cheese cubes, nuts, etc.