Easy, healthy and delicious lunches you’ll want to take to work

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For those of us who have to prepare a lunch each day for work, the task can quickly get tiresome and boring.

Does the daily sandwich, packet of crisps and a banana spring to mind?

But packed lunches don’t have to be bland or time consuming. I’ve created some easy bulk meals that I recommend making on a Sunday evening that you can mix and match. Keep them in separate Tupperware boxes in the fridge, and each evening, simply pick 2 or three to spoon into your lunch box for the next day. Think of your fridge as a deli and pick as choose as you please. This is a great idea for children’s lunch boxes too; think of it as a fun activity for them to choose their own lunches each day.

Freshly washed green leaves – have a big Tupperware box of mixed green leaves ready to add to the bottom of your lunchbox before spooning on your other items. I like a fresh spinach, rocket and watercress mix. Two big handfuls per lunch are perfect and full of essential nutrients. Keep in the fridge.

Herby quinoa salad – this salad is packed full of protein and flavour and goes great with veggies and hummus. Simply cook 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of boiling water with a vegetable stock cube, stirring often. When the water has been absorbed (12-15 mins), stir in garlic paste (optional), chopped fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Leave to cool before placing in the fridge.

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables – colourful, tasty and full of goodness. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Slice 3 peppers, one red onion, and 1 large courgette and place in a roasting tin. Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, rosemary, crushed garlic and salt and pepper. Pour over the veggies, mix up so they’re coated and roast for 30 minutes or until fully cooked, stirring half way. Once cooled, keep in the fridge.

Quick tuna pasta salad – cook 250g pasta according to packet instructions (I love brown rice pasta). Before it cools, add to a bowl and stir in 100g tuna (if not in oil add a dessert spoon of olive oil), ½ a diced raw red onion, 1 ½ tablespoons of mayonnaise, a handful of sweetcorn,  juice of one lemon, parsley and salt and pepper. Leave to cool before keeping in the fridge.

Lemony cucumber couscous – cook three portions of couscous according to packet instructions and allow to cool. Chop up a third of a regular sized cucumber into quarters then slice. Mix the cucumber through the couscous with chopped parsley, the juice of 1 large lemon and a dessert spoon of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep in the fridge.

Superfood beetroot salad – add chunks of cooked beetroot, baby kale leaves, pine nuts, edamame beans and a lemony olive oil (2 parts olive oil, one part lemon juice and seasoning) dressing and mix before keeping in the fridge. If in season, add sliced figs to this salad for a lovely sweeter taste.

Mexican mixed bean salad – slice 2 ripe avocados into chunks and mix with a can of rinsed kidney, pinto and cannellini beans, ½ a diced red onion, crushed garlic, the juice of one lime and 10 sliced cherry tomatoes. Mix with an olive oil and balsamic mix, and season to taste. Keep in the fridge.

Extras – these go really well as an addition to your chosen ‘deli’ items.

Homemade classic hummus – in a food processor, blend 1 can of chickpeas (rinse beforehand), juice of half lemon (careful of pips), ¼ cup of tahini (sesame seed paste), 2 cloves crushed garlic, ¼ cup olive oil (may need to add more if it’s difficult to blend, add it teaspoon by teaspoon), salt, pepper, sprinkle of smoked paprika, cumin and sumac if desired. Keep in a Tupperware in the fridge.

Homemade kale pesto – completely vegan and takes just five minutes to make. Add 2 cups of washed and torn fresh kale leaves, ½ cup of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt, 1 clove of garlic, and juice of one lemon to a food processor and pulse until it’s broken down. Add in ¼ cup of almonds and pulse again. If you prefer it chunkier, add in another ¼ cup of almonds and blend until it’s at your favourite consistency. Keep in the fridge and add a heaped teaspoon to your cold Mediterranean veggies.

Boiled eggs – I bulk cook boiled eggs for an extra protein source in my lunch. Cook 5/6 eggs in boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Leave to cool, then keep in a Tupperware box in the fridge. Peel and add to your lunchbox.

If you eat meat and fish – add some cold roast chicken slices from your Sunday roast leftovers, fresh sliced ham, or tuna mayonnaise to your lunchbox to bulk it out.

Spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon preparing these dishes. It will set you up for a week of stress free lunch preparation and a whole week of tasty lunches. Feel free to tweak my recipes with your favourite ingredients.Happy lunching.

Chloe McGuire is an AAT student and health blogger.

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