I’m the first to admit that I LOVE heading out on my work break to buy a tasty lunch. As soon as I step out of those office doors, bank card in hand, I feel like the world is my oyster! What will it be today? A £5 cheese toastie? An £8 salad? A cheeky burger and fries with not much change left from a tenner? Yes. My lunch habit is costing me some serious bucks which is why, this year, I set myself a challenge – to treat myself to just ONE lunch a week, and to bring the rest in from home. If, like me, you’re looking to cut back on spendy lunch breaks but can’t bear the thought of tucking into a bland cheese and lettuce sandwich then you’re in luck! I’ve rounded up 5 of my failsafe lunches to add a little happiness back into your lunchbreak, and a little money back into your bank account…
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND FETA FRITTATA
Before this ‘new year, new me’ approach to lunches, I had never in my life cooked a frittata! The main reason being that I didn’t think I had a frying pan that could go in the oven. Top tip: if your pan has a coated of plastic-y handle then just wrap it in some tin foil before you pop it in the oven and you’re good to go! I discovered this recipe in Clean Eating Alice’s cookbook and it’s become a weekly go-to for me. 6 eggs might sound like a lot but it makes 6 generous slices (1 for each day, plus 1 for luck!) and it’s tasty hot or cold. You can also mix up the veg that you use – I like to add peas to mine, and sometimes I’ll swap the butternut squash for sweet potato.
I mainly love this lunch because a) who doesn’t love pasta and b)it requires 0 effort. With thhis recipe from BBC Good Food all you need to do is chop up your chosen veggies and garlic (don’t forget the garlic!), chuck them in a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, then mix all together with some pasta that you’ve boiled up. If you’re feeling fancy (like I often am) then I love mixing in a couple of tablespoons of pesto for extra flavour. Bonus: you can eat this stuff hot or cold, so it’s perfect if you don’t want to risk the shared office microwave.
I reckon that even non-veggies, like myself, will love Madeleine Shaw’s aubergine curry. There are no fancy ingredients, just loads of lovely spices – you can even swap the fresh ginger for dried like I usually do. I love having this with half a pack of microwave rice (although you could save money by cooking a big batch of dried rice, if you’re not as lazy as me!). I also love adding a tin of chickpeas to this recipe to bulk it out, and it means I can skip the rice as the chickpeas satisfy my need for something carb-y.
CHILLI CON CARNE
Ahh, is there anything better than a good old fashioned chilli con carne? Jamie Oliver doesn’t think so, and neither do I! This recipe is great made the classic way with minced beef or a meat substitute like Quorn – and it’s equally tasty with turkey mince if you’re looking for something a little more lean. My favourite thing about this recipe is that it’s packed with carrots, peppers, kidney beans, and chickpeas so you’re getting a ton of veggies in every portion. Plus, it’s super easy to cook up a huge batch to enjoy for lunches and dinners.
GIANT COUSCOUS, FETA AND BASIL SALAD
For me, a salad does not a lunch make. Unless, that is, it’s packed with a whole host of tasty ingredients that make it more of a meal. This recipe from Delicious magazine doesn’t contain any lettuce at all (say what?!) which means I was instantly into it. Instead, it uses giant couscous (my new fave!), roasted tomatoes, feta cheese, and basil. Perfect for warmer days – or when you want to feel a little bit healthy!
We’d love to know your go-to homemade lunches, too! Let us know in the comments below.