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Trying to come up with healthy lunch ideas for weight loss can be a real challenge. And if you don’t plan your lunch properly, the chances are that you’re going to eat something unsuitable for your goals. The secret to healthy eating is to plan ahead.

So, if you can set aside a few hours at the weekend, or on a free weeknight, you can easily prepare healthy lunches for the week ahead that you, or your whole family will enjoy. Any of the following salads could be made on the weekend and then stored in an airtight container until needed.

  1. Spiced lentil soup :

Spiced lentil soup

2 tsp cumin seeds

Pinch chilli flakes

2 tbsp olive oil

600g carrots , washed and coarsely grated

140g split red lentils

1L hot vegetable stock (reduced salt)

125ml reduced fat milk

Heat a large saucepan and dry-fry the cumin seeds and chilli flakes for 1 minute, or until they start to jump in the pan and release their aromas. Scoop out about half of the seeds with a spoon and set aside.Add the oil, carrots, lentils, stock and milk to the pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils have swollen and softened.Whizz the soup with a blender until smooth. Season to taste and finish with a sprinkling of the reserved toasted spices. Serve with wholegrain bread.

  1. Veggie sesame salad :

Veggie sesame salad

Serves 4

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

4 cups savoy cabbage, shredded

2 large carrots, grated

1 large zucchini, grated

1/3 cup honey soy dressing, salt reduced

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add sesame seeds, and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden.Place cabbage, carrot and zucchini in a large bowl, add dressing and two-thirds of the seeds. Toss to combine, top with remaining seeds to serve.

  1. Lime and coriander couscous :

Lime and coriander couscous

Serves 6

1 cup couscous

1 cup boiling water

2 teaspoons of finely grated lime rind

Juice from half the lime

2 tablespoons of fresh coriander, finely chopped

1/4 red onion, finely chopped

1/2 red capsicum, finely chopped

1 Lebanese cucumber, finely chopped

Place couscous in a heatproof bowl, add boiling water, cover and stand for 5 minutes.Toss through lime rind and juice, coriander, onion, capsicum, and cucumber.Serve in small pots with a large leafy salad, and veggie crudites.

– Pratiksha Trivedi

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