With September marking the return to work after the Summer break, we thought it was a perfect time to give you some inspiration to liven up the good old lunch box, whether it’s for you to take to work or for the kids to enjoy at school or college, we’ve got ideas that will satisfy the whole family.
If you’re new to packed lunches, they have many benefits, not only will you save yourself a small fortune compared with buying a supermarket meal deal every day, £15 a week* to be precise, but with the smallest amount of preparation, you can enjoy a nutritious and varied mealtime to boot.
Not sure how much you should be eating at lunchtime? Aiming for 500 calories including any drinks at lunch is a good guide for ensuring you don’t start piling on extra pounds.
If you need further convincing, here are some more reasons to make the effort;
Stay energised for longer
It’s not all about the calories, the one thing you want to avoid at work is that dreaded energy slump in the afternoon, when all you want to do is curl up at your desk and grab a quick power nap. Crashing energy levels can often be caused by not eating enough, or conversely, by pigging out on too many stodgy foods earlier in the day. Eating a variety of different foods will keep you satisfied for longer and stop you reaching for the sugary, energy boosting foods come 4pm.
It can become really easy to slip into the habit of buying a supermarket meal deal, consisting of a sandwich, a bag of crisps and a sugary drink every day, but with a little planning you can quickly and easily create a variety of lunches to munch on.
Plan what you are going to eat at the weekend, shop for the ingredients and you’re virtually there. Soups, salads, wraps, pasta and dips with crudites are all interesting and healthy alternatives to the plain sandwich.
Not everyone works near a busy town complete with shops and supermarket. If you work in the sticks or in the middle of an industrial estate, schlepping out at lunchtime can quickly become a real inconvenience. If you work in an office with other people why not take it in turns to make lunch each week and take inspiration from each other to try new recipe ideas.
Use up Leftovers
It might not sound that appealing but try making more than you need for supper, and take the extra to work the next day for lunch. It helps if you have a microwave handy for re-heating, but even if you don’t there are lots of dishes that taste just as delicious cold as they do hot.
If you are struggling to get your head around preparing a packed lunch every day of the week, why not start out with two days a week to see how you get on.
Homemade humous is quick, cheap and simple to make and can be prepared as a dip in which to dunk vegetable crudités or piled into wraps with salad for a healthier alternative to the sandwich. Humous makes a perfect packed lunch staple as once you have mastered the basic recipe the variations that can created are endless.
If you find yourself getting bored of the basic recipe, try blending in some roasted red peppers or stir through some chopped coriander and lemon juice to keep your lunches varied. Alternatively, have fun experimenting with your favourite ingredients. Don’t forget to share your favourite combinations with us.
Humous freezes really well so make your life even easier by making a big batch and freezing in smaller quantities before defrosting overnight ready for the next day.