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Healthy Correctional Officer Lunchbox

Because being held overtime for approximately 16-hour shifts is common in the world of corrections, it is important to be prepared with healthy food in order to avoid ordering out or relying on vending machine foods. Use the tips below to help you eat healthier foods even when held over:

  • More time at work means less time to go grocery shopping and prepare healthy foods, but with some planning you can help stay on track for healthy eating.
  • For the times when you are not prepared, have a few healthier options in mind that can be ordered from a restaurant that delivers (e.g., check nutritional information for local restaurants and write down some healthy options that you can order).
  • Have a game plan: plan a week’s worth of meals ahead of time (e.g., on a day off) and take some time to make a grocery shopping list, go shopping and prepare a few days’ worth of meals ahead.


Breakfast is important to give you energy to start the day and start your metabolism to help burn more calories during the day. Try to not eat too much late at night so you are hungry in the morning. Try to plan a well-balanced breakfast with protein and a small amount of carbohydrates and fat.

  •  Egg burrito or sandwich: Have bread/English muffins, tortillas, eggs and cheese on hand. These can also be prepared ahead of time and frozen to save for later.
  • Fruit smoothies: Have frozen fruit, low fat yogurt/milk, and a few add-ins (nut butters, protein powder, spinach) on hand and make a quick blend in the morning or the night before.
  • Oatmeal: Keep oatmeal and add-ins to microwave or stovetop cook with add-ins such as fruit or nut butter. You can also bring ingredients and microwave cook at work.


Most people can fit two to three small snacks of 100 to 200 calories into a healthy diet.

  • Fruit: Pick ones that require no preparation or just a quick wash (bananas, oranges, apples, grapes).
  • Trail mix: Buy premade or make your own by combining small portions of nuts, dried fruit, cereal, dark chocolate chips, etc.
  • Vegetables: Keep pre-sliced veggie sticks and baby carrots on hand. Use low-calorie dips like hummus or yogurt-based dips.


Be sure to watch portion sizes, eat slowly, and add fruits and vegetables to most meals.

  • Have a few of your favorite meals prepared for the next few days.
  • Use a slow cooker, such as a Crock-Pot for meals that cook overnight.
  • Cook large batches and divide into a few meals for the next few days and freeze extras for busier weeks when you don’t have time to cook.
  • Have basics on hand for quick prep: salad dressing, canned tuna, bread, deli meat and cheese, nut butter, etc.

Example of a Healthy Lunchbox for a 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Workday

Start off with a filling breakfast (approximately 500 calories).

  • Two scrambled eggs with onion and bell pepper cooked in canola or olive oil spray
  • One slice whole wheat toast
  • One-third avocado
  • 8 ounces low-fat milk
10 p.m.: Snack 1
(~100–200 calories)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter with
  • 1 medium apple
1 p.m.: Lunch
(~500 calories)
  • A quarter to a half of  baked chicken breast (with spray oil)
  • 1 cup cooked veggies (boiled/steamed or baked flavored with herbs/lemon) or 2 cups salad with oil based (vs. creamy) dressing
  • 1 medium baked potato with 2 tablespoons low fat sour cream/tub margarine/salsa (Tip: can cook in microwave for quicker cooking.)
4 p.m.: Snack 2
(~100–200 calories)
  • 100-200 calorie granola bar
7 p.m.: Dinner
(~500 calories)
  • Nature Valley granola bar
  • 2 cups stir-fry veggies cooked in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 6 ounces shrimp
  • 3/4 cup brown rice
10 p.m.: Snack 3
(~100–200 calories)
  • Laughing Cow cheese wedge (light)
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted