How many times have you brought your own pre-prepared lunch to work in the past month? If you can count number on one hand, it might be time to try and break the habit of buying your lunch each day. Yes, the Pad Thai from the little place in the food court is tasty, but your bank account sheds a tear each time you pay for it, and your body inwardly groans at the impending ingestion of more fat, sodium and oil than you need in one serving.
Check out these easy, delicious and nutritious lunches that you can prepare on your Sunday evening to set you up for thrifty and healthy week.
3 core ingredients are all you really need to pull off this classic. The most time consuming aspect of this dish is cooking the rice. White rice will take less time as it doesn’t need to soak, but your body will thank you if you choose to go with brown.
Soak some brown rice in water for 20 minutes before you set it to heat. Once that heat’s on and that’s absorbing away, stir-fry some chicken strips for a few minutes until they’re seared and golden brown. Add a jar of Teriyaki Sauce (less or more depending on the amount of chicken) and stir through.
With the heat turned off and your chicken resting, steam some chopped up broccoli in the microwave for a couple of minutes.
Now the only thing left to do is wait for your rice to finish cooking, so kick your feet up for twenty minutes or so before you throw everything together in some microwaveable containers.
Mixing it up:
If you’re conscious of your carb intake, try subbing your rice out with finely chopped cauliflower (a food processor achieves the best results here).
For a vegetarian option, a tasty alternative to chicken is to stir-fry the broccoli and adding a handful of cashew nuts before stirring through the sauce. Feel free to add some more veggies for more flavour variety. Carrot is a safe option.
Teriyaki sauce can contain quite a lot of sugar. Try mixing ¼ cup of light soy sauce with a teaspoon of honey for a lighter option.
This is a great meal to customise depending on your time constraints and task for certain ingredients. It’s very hard to stuff this recipe up as it requires chopping and grating, and minimal actual cooking.
Before you prepare the ingredients, get four or five containers ready to pack for the week ahead.
A really basic, but still delicious, might include some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, grated carrots and cheese, and canned beans of your own choosing (safe choices would be kidney or cannellini beans). Add a wedge of lemon or lime to bring the ingredients to life when you actually go to dig into your bowl, and you’re good to go.
Mixing it up:
If you’re feeling a bit fancy and have half an hour to spare, bring your bowl to the next level by adding some cooked mince meat with taco seasoning, brown rice, corn, avocado and some dried oregano (or your favourite herb). Your taste buds will sing your praises all week long.
Pesto Chicken With Veggies
You’ll be amazed at how delicious a meal so simple can be. All you need per serving is of chicken (boned and skinless thighs are recommended), half a cup of halved cherry tomatoes, a handful of baby spinach and a couple of teaspoons of pesto sauce. If you’re working with big pieces of chicken here, try halving them to reduce the cooking time. Bring a pan with some olive oil to a medium heat.
Add the chicken to the pan, tossing around until golden and cooked through. Remove the chicken for now and cut into smaller strips. Add the baby spinach and tomatoes to the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss around until they begin to wilt. Throw the chicken back in the pan with a nice dollop of peso sauce, give it all a toss around, and… Hey Pesto!
Mixing it up
For a veggo alternative, swap out the chicken for some cauliflower, steamed potatoes, or halved brussels sprouts.
If asparagus is more to your liking, that works just as well as baby spinach, and if you want to add a little bit of pizzazz to your plate, throw in some sundried tomatoes instead of, or in addition to, your cherries.
Non-sushi Bento Box
Perfect for those looking to prioritise protein over carbs.
This is basically a box of your favourite cold cuts and any tasty sides you fancy. The main ingredients we like to go with: pan-fried salmon, hard boiled eggs, brocolli, spring onion, cherry tomatoes a couple of wedges of orange to finish.
Kick things off by bringing a couple of eggs to boil at a medium-low heat. While you’re heating up a pan (or BBQ) to a medium-high heat, season both sides of your salmon with salt, pepper and pat down with a drizzle of olive oil. Place your salmon in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. By the time you remove the salmon to rest on a separate plate, your water for the eggs should be coming to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover the pot and leave in the pan for 10 minutes.
While your eggs and salmon are having a break, you can spend five or ten minutes preparing the veg. When 10 minutes is up, remove the eggs and cool them under running water before peeling and quartering them. Finally, flake your salmon into chunks. Now all your ingredients are ready, all you need to do is arrange them in your lunch containers to your liking!
Mixing it up
You can’t really go wrong with this meal because you’re really just choosing raw ingredients that you like. Add some of you’re favourite cheese if you’re a dairy fiend, ignore the eggs if they’re not your thing. Don’t have time or a hot plate to cook a steak? Sub in some ham or roast beef from the supermarket.
Tuna definitely isn’t the kind of food you can eat day after day, and you don’t want to become ‘that guy’ who leaves the office kitchen smelling like fish each day, but this is a great option to make use of any veggies lingering in your fridge.
Cut a peeled sweet potato or pumpkin in to thin slices and drizzle with some olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to cook in the oven at 180°C for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, dice tomato, chop your lime and prepare your basil.
Once the sweet potato/pumpkin is cooked and soft, toss all the ingredients together and fill your Tupperware containers ready for the week. All you need to do when you’re ready to eat is open a can of tuna to add to the bowl, and maybe add a crack or two of pepper!
Mixing it up
Not into tuna? A soft-boiled egg cut into quarters works wonders with this salad base as well!