How to lunch like a teacher

Discover what lies in the lunchboxes of those with the brightest minds and highest-flying careers, then read our nutritionist's take on the health credentials. You might just find your next inspiring midday meal right here, so read on to find out what lies within the lunchbox of a school teacher...

Name: Julie Whitington
Bio: Julie is deputy head of a primary school in London, so as well as having all the academic skills required of a class teacher, she also has plenty of managerial tasks to undertake.
 

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What’s in Julie’s lunchbox…

“My lunchbox is often leftovers, typically homemade vegetable soup with beans, then maybe some hummus and veggie sticks for dipping. If possible, I’ll add some homemade banana bread. Although I have to say, some of us teachers have the occasional school dinner, too.” 

Green lunchbox filled with sandwiches, fruit and vegetable croutons

Our nutritionist’s view… 

Kerry Torrens says: As a teacher, Julie needs to maintain her attention and focus throughout the school day. This means balancing energy levels and ensuring her brain and body are well-fuelled. Her lunch selection is a healthy one, as it’s packed with plant foods including vegetables, fruit and protein-rich dairy. Julie’s soup is a filling and sustaining choice – by including beans she has topped up her protein and fibre intake. Hummus is a great choice as chickpeas are a good source of the mineral manganese, which helps build healthy bones and the veggie sticks add variety to Julie’s 5-a-day.

Bananas contain a combo of fast and slow-releasing carbs, making them just the thing to curb a sweet craving. As long as they’re not overly ripe, bananas contain more starch than other fruit, making them a filling option. By cooking her banana bread from scratch Julie is controlling its sugar and fat content and if she uses wholemeal, rather than refined white flour, she’ll also boost its contribution of fibre and stress-busting B vitamins.

Natural yogurt supplies a healthy dose of gut-friendly bacteria, and by adding it to her fruit Julie is topping up her protein levels. Apples supply a gentle source of soluble fibre called pectin, which helps manage cholesterol and promotes digestive health.

Top swaps

Kerry says: As an alternative to the bean soup, Julie might like to consider a lentil-based veggie soup. Lentils are a good source of plant protein and are rich in iron, an energising mineral, which is important for vegetarians. Accompanying her soup with a piece of wholegrain bread would help make Julie’s lunch even more sustaining. Julie might like to consider adding nuts or seeds to her fruit and yogurt, or including them in her banana bread. Nuts like walnuts and seeds like flax and chia are a valuable source of brain-friendly fats, and important for cognitive function as well as mood.

To add variety to Julie’s lunch choices, she might consider experimenting with her baking by swapping the banana bread for one made with the sweeter varieties of veg – those which work well in bakes include parsnips, carrots, courgettes and beetroot.
 

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