Hannah joins the latest craze in making your own lunch for work. Here are her simple ideas for doing it yourself
I don’t know about you, but this year one of my resolutions was to bring lunch to work more often. So far I’ve managed to stick to it, and I’m finding that it’s so much easier on my pocket, plus the food I make is tastier, healthier and more affordable than most of the options in the area.
The only problem is now that I know what’s for lunch, I have to resist the urge to gobble it down at 11 am! These are some great quick lunch recipes that work even better if you make them for dinner the night before and have the leftovers for lunch.
Things to consider: making your own lunch saves you money and you're guaranteed to actually like it. Go for one-dish meals and avoid dripping sauces and wayward garnishes to minimize the chance of a mess. Pack some napkins and keep salt and pepper in your drawer. And do step away from your desk to enjoy it, if you can.
I like to start the week off on a healthy note. This one-pot recipe for spicy red lentils and crispy tofu is great hot or cold, making it ideal for lunch breaks. The lentils add great body and flavour, packing an impressive protein punch for a vegan meal and keeping you full until supper.
Add fried pork bangers to it for added protein and to bulk it up.
Tip: This is a fabulous for Monday lunch as you can make it over the weekend. If you are running short on time, substitute the dried red lentils with a can of drained and rinsed lentils. Feel free to add a splash of coconut milk and serve with brown rice to make it go further.
Fishcakes are the kind of thing you can make by hand when you come across a great offer on sustainable fish. Simply prepare them and freeze individually until needed.
Remove from the freezer and bake from frozen in a hot oven for 20 minutes or so until warmed through. Woolworths also offers a great range of hake burgers or crumbed hake portions with lime and black pepper as an alternative.
Tip: These fish cakes can all be served on a crusty fresh roll, with a crisp green salad or with noodles. Cut down on preparation time by using store-bought sauces or relishes instead of making your own.
I am not really supposed to eat a lot of bread and if I do it should be 100% rye, which, luckily, I love. As a result, wraps have become the next best thing! I store a pack in the freezer, defrosting one or two as I need them, or I make a batch over the weekend myself. They are surprisingly filling without leaving you feeling heavy; especially when packed with fresh salad and a protein.
Tip: Last night’s curry is always delicious in toasted wraps if you have more curry than rice the next day. The Vietnamese rice paper roll wraps are ideal if you want to have a mid-afternoon snack or if you’re watching your waistline. Or stock up on Woolworths' flour tortilla or basil pesto wraps.
Pasta is a household favourite. More often than not there is a serving or two left over, and it’s delicious eaten cold as a salad with a few extras thrown in. Stir-fries are as popular and, like pasta dishes, are often prepared by the wokful, so the perfect meal to prepare to ensure leftovers.
Tip: Jazz up your leftover pasta for lunch the next day by adding crumbled ricotta or goat’s cheese with chopped sundried tomatoes, pitted olives and tuna. If you prefer Asian noodles, wrap the leftovers in spring roll sheets and bake or fry in a little vegetable oil over a medium heat until crunchy and golden.
Nothing goes down quite as well on a Friday as a burger for lunch, especially if you’re joining your colleagues for a post-work drink! Grilled or pan-fried chicken breasts are healthy and guaranteed to leave you feeling satisfied.
The chorizo in our ultimate chicken, chorizo and avo burger is an extra indulgence, adding a smoky spicy flavour. It can be substituted with crispy bacon or left out all together.
Or pop in at Woolworths and stock up on their delicious Halaal chilli cheese or lean beef burger patties
Tip: If you don’t have the time to make the sauce from scratch, your favourite BBQ sauce will do just fine. Heat up crumbed chicken burgers if you prefer, or simply pop in at Woolworths and grab a few boxes of ready-made mini BBQ chicken burgers for the office. This will be a huge hit – especially if the team is on a deadline!
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DESK LUNCH DISASTERS WANTED IN RETURN FOR A COPY OF BITTEN!
Have you had a lunch disaster at your desk? Like spilling a cup of pea soup on the keyboard, or destroying the pages of your diary with a steaming caffe latte? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may use them on the website or in the magazine and we'll reward the best lunch disaster story with a copy of Bitten by food blogger Sarah Graham.