Nothing is more quintessentially British than a sandwich. Even so, nothing puts you off taking a packed lunch to work each day than the same, boring, soggy sandwich.
However, when I look at my monthly budget the idea of assigning £200 to ‘lunches’ blows my mind. Taking in your lunch rather than picking up that toastie from Pret can save you £1,000 per year. This is why, most of the time I’m a slave to my lunchbox. Here are some great alternative ideas for lunch which won’t involve a soggy sarnie:
Soup is the best cheap eat. Perfect in winter, when you want something warm and comforting, and great for your waistline too! I normally just raid whatever is in my fridge, roast or boil veggies, throw in red lentils or a can of beans for protein, add cream, milk or coconut milk for creaminess, season and blend.
In order that I’m not eating the same soup every day, I make big pan-fulls at a time and freeze in portion-sized batches. Also, carrying frozen soup means no leaking in your hand bag – win!
Mini tarts or pizzas
My housemate recently introduced me to these and I must say they are quite ingenious. Buy or make puff pastry (it’s super easy, I promise) or pizza dough. Split into fist size portions and roll. Smear on some tomato purée/sauce or pesto, top with whatever you fancy (veggies, cooked meat etc), sprinkle some cheese and bake in the oven for 20 mins. Take one to work each day with a small side salad and everyone will be jealous, trust me.
Healthy, quick, easy and with ENDLESS varieties – the salad bowl is always a winner. It also has the added advantage of being uber-transportable so you can eat it in the park when it’s sunny (no queuing for the microwave for you).
- Choose your base – pasta, cous cous, potatoes, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgar wheat, pearly barley or simply lettuce. I cook a big batch so it will last me all week. Deliciously Ella has some great tips for cooking grains.
- Prep your salad – I normally use a mix of lettuce, spinach, cucumber, grated carrots, spring onions and pepper – mushrooms don’t last well so only add to your salad for the next day.
- Pick your topping – ham, chicken, tuna, egg, feta cheese, olives, hummus etc.
- Add any extras – chickpeas, croutons, chilli flakes, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, salt and pepper… go crazy!
- Choose your dressing but don’t add until the morning of consumption (or you’re just about to eat it) as it will make the salad soggy, yucky and waste all your hard work. Great ingredients are: mayo, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, yoghurt and pesto – whatever you have in!
Instead of buying the expensive stuff in M&S, why not make your own? I promise it takes minutes and it’s super tasty. Pair with some fresh bread or oat cakes and salad and you have the yummiest, least stressful lunch. I usually favour fish paté by mixing smoked mackerel or salmon with soft cheese, crème fraiche or yoghurt, black pepper, lemon juice and dill.
By far the easiest lunch box is to use what you’ve already made. Sometimes I deliberately make double so I can have it for lunch the next day, sometimes I just have food leftover. Instead of binning your leftovers, pop them in a lunchbox and bob it in the fridge ready for tomorrow’s lunch – simples. Pad it out with extra veggies if it’s looking a little small. Just don’t be that person who stinks out the office with fish pie…
What’s your go-to lunch? Talk to me.