I’ve been working in offices for a long time and after a while it pays to get creative with what you eat in your lunch hour, to try and avoid unhealthy, expensive or disappointing lunches. Whether your office has a palatial kitchen with all the gadgets or just a small space with limited cutlery, you can create my lunches easily.
This will make your lunches interesting, and they are non perishable ingredients which will keep in a cupboard for months.
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Hot sauce (smoked tabasco is my favourite)
- Seeds and nuts to top salads and soups
- Ryvita, oatcakes or crackers for topping and dipping
- Balsamic vinegar
What about the kitchen itself? Hopefully you will have a microwave but it’s not essential (except for soup!) – a small side plate, a bowl and basic cutlery are all else you need. Chopping board, a toaster and a small knife are also nice to have but not essential.
I have four kinds of lunch, which cover most eventualities:
- supermarket sweep
- healthy shop bought
I’m really bad at making sandwiches.
My homemade lunches tend to steer clear from sandwiches, and differ depending on what I fancy and I have a repertoire of different things that are easy to put together and yummy.
Buddha Bowl / Salad – quinoa, rice or bulgar wheat with lots of vegetables (peas, broad beans, cooked beetroot, cherry tomatoes, salad leaves, leftover cooked vegetables), a pulse like lentils or chickpeas made interesting with things like houmous, feta, pumpkin seeds or a mashed avocado. Dress with oil, hot sauce and seasoning as you like it.
Soup – comforting in the Winter and very nutritious. Making a big pot of soup on Sunday and freezing it in small tubs will see you through several lunches. Squash, potato and tomato based soups reheat particularly well. Add bread, oatcakes or ryvita and you’ve got lunch! Sliced radishes also make great croutons if you are trying to lighten up on the carbs.
Tartine / Open Faced Sandwich – I’m good at making these sandwiches. If I have some sourdough or homemade bread in the house this makes an excellent lunch to grab on the way out the door. A couple of slices of bread (toasted if you can) and a mashed baby avocado will make a lovely tartine with an addition of hot sauce and seasoning. Radishes sliced over the top, olives, cherry tomatoes or a sprinkling of feta will make it even better.
Ploughmans / Cheese Board style - Those bits of cheese in your fridge? A few pickles? Cured meats? Crackers or bread? Not the healthiest of options but this Ploughmans / Cheese board style lunch makes a great quick option that will also sort out odds and ends in the fridge. If you are a geek like me and have a compartment lunchbox like this one this makes life a lot easier.
Making extra dinner will always serve you well and if I remember to and the recipe works I will always make extra for lunch. It basically requires no extra effort other than putting it in a container after dinner!
Pasta in a tomato or pesto sauce, curries, noodles, shepherds pie or leftover stews. Usually I opt for the first 3 as we eat those the most – with a grain, rice or bread or salad.
Supermarket sweep lunch
If you’re lucky enough to work near a supermarket (large or small) investigate what they have that will make a good lunch – and this doesn’t mean the sandwich aisle. I’m lucky enough to work opposite a Waitrose and they have a great selection to build your own healthy lunch on the fly, my picks below are available in most supermarkets.
- Pre-cooked packs of quinoa, quinoa & lentils, green lentils
- Pre-prepared green vegetables – Waitrose do small twin packs of broccoli, peas and sugar snaps
- Cooked beetroot, cherry tomatoes, baby avocados
- Smoked salmon flakes, cooked crayfish, tinned tuna in springwater
- Mini pots of houmous
All of the above can make a great salad (and the ingredients will serve you over 2-3 days) when seasoned with your basic kit.
Not prepared and no time? A few products that are healthy and tasty. Again, skip the sandwich aisle, often the deli/salad section is the best place to look, where you’ll find the potato salad and coleslaw.
Beetroot and Feta Salad. A very filling salad, the green lentils make it substantial and the beetroot, feta and walnut make it interesting. If you’re really hungry add some of those pre-prepared vegetables.
Pea Terrine Salad – this is delicious! A pea puree with pea shoots, goat’s cheese, spring onion, cucumber and mint. This is quite light so some crackers will help fill you up, or have pudding!
3 Grain Salad with Fennel & Apple: My current favourite, a really substantial tasty salad with roasted fennel, chunks of apple, seeds. The 3 grains keep it interesting – quinoa, rice, spelt – and the lemony dressing gives it a nice kick.
Nutty Grain and Vegetable Salad. This salad makes me feel smug, it is so packed full of veggies and feels very wholesome to eat. It has green beans, peas, broccoli, carrots, black-eyed beans, quinoa, peanuts, almonds and pistachios and a soy and ginger dressing.
Other good picks are Innocent Veg Pots though I haven’t tried any of the new ones yet. I’ve also recently spotted Yorkshire Provender meal pots, promising to be healthy and filling, the mediterranean vegetable and halloumi looks like a great lunch option.
So there you have it! My healthy lunch options, lots of inspiration for you!
I’d love to hear abouts and see your lunch, tweet me @deepamstry or hashtag #foodmelalunch
Here’s to better lunching