We understand what it’s like. Mornings are frantic and you probably feel you don’t have time to make yourself a packed lunch for work. But have you ever stopped to think about the effect on your health and on your pocket? Three pounds spent on a meal deal each working day adds up to an eye-watering £750 per year and totalling over £33,000 over the course of your working life. With a little organisation and imagination you could enjoy a home-cooked gourmet meal at your desk each lunchtime at a fraction of the cost. So here are some top tips to help you make the most of your lunchtimes.
Start by buying a good container to transport your lunch, perhaps with sections to keep food separate and foldable cutlery. A 3-layer tiffin tin gives even more versatility and wide-mouthed thermos flasks are great for soup or stew. Plan your weekly menu ahead and prepare your food the night before so you can pick up and go in the morning.
Mixed leaves or spinach make a great base. Ingredients such as peppers can be chopped a couple of days in advance and extras stored in the fridge, and blanched vegetables like baby corn and mange tout also keep well. Keep a range of protein options such as smoked mackerel, pre-cooked chicken strips or mixed beans handy, as well as nuts and seeds for sprinkling. Assemble everything the night before, but keep salad dressing separate until just before eating.
Delicious main meals
Many main meals taste great as a lunch so cook a little extra the night before. Pasta salads, bean stew with crusty bread or a rich lamb tagine with spiced couscous will all make a delicious lunch. Most offices have a microwave so you can heat your meal in minutes.
Nothing beats the cold better than a thick hearty soup. Batch cook your favourite variety and freeze portions individually. Try making your own bread, slice before freezing and remove slices each morning – it will have defrosted by lunchtime. Or buy different varieties of bread rolls to accompany your lunch.
Making your own packed lunch lets you choose healthy options that you love and saves you money as well. And once you have got used to enjoying haute cuisine at your desk you will never want to go back to ordinary sandwiches again.