Now that we’re back into the swing of work and sending the kids back to school, the old conundrum of what to pack for lunch is once again with us. And if you’re still feeling the effects of eating your body weight in ham sandwiches and enjoying a few too many frosés over the festive season, you might be looking for slightly lighter options for your own work lunches. We’re here to help with easy tips and ideas for creating lunches you and your kids will love.
You know the drill — it’s good to drink more water, particularly in the summer months when you tend to dehydrate faster. Keeping a reusable water bottle close to hand on your desk at work, and making sure to fill it up at least three times a day is a good start. Make it a regular part of your day, aiming to fill your bottle up when you arrive at work, when those mid-morning hunger/coffee cravings hit, and at lunchtime, drinking a full bottle after each refill. If you go for a large 800ml capacity bottle, you’ll have knocked back the magic two litres in no time. There’s a great range of stylish and functional bottles available these days, but we particularly like these Citrus Zinger, which feature genius citrus reamers in their bases, meaning you can infuse your water with your favourite fruit.
Choosing a new drink bottle is a style statement for kids, who also need to drink plenty of water to help them concentrate and rehydrate after playing. They’ll love the Zulu Glass range of bottles, which come in a range of bright colours. Sistema bottles are also a great affordable and hard-wearing choice.
Making a salad to take to work each day will go a long way towards helping you keep your budget under control, as well as helping you get closer to achieving five servings of fruit and vege each day. And once you get in the habit of doing a little prep work the night before, it will become part of your routine in no time. Pack dressings and crunchy items separately — these mini Sistema containersare perfect — and go for large containers to transport your other elements. Cylindrical ones such as this can work well to layer up ingredients. Here are a few ideas that are a far cry from limp iceberg and floury tomato…
Beetroot and carrot salad Grate raw beetroot and carrot then toss together and pack in a container. Put 1 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or use vinegar) and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small sealable container and shake to combine, then dress your salad when you’re ready to eat.
Tuna salad Mix together cubes of cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced spring onion and a drained can of tuna in a container. At work, dress with a little olive oil and lemon juice. If you have access to a toaster, you can also toast a pita bread and break it into pieces then toss through the salad.
Chickpea salad Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas, then pack in a container with thinly sliced capsicum, chopped coriander leaves and grated carrot. Mix together ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a container and shake to combine, then dress your salad when you’re ready to eat.
Finishing touches Toasted nuts will add texture and deliciousness to all kinds of salads as well - toss sunflower and pumpkin seeds with a little tamari then put on a baking paper-lined oven tray and roast for 5-10 minutes at 180C or until light golden and smelling toasted. Allow to cool, then store in a jar at work, ready to add instant flavour.
Kids can enjoy salads too, just try and present them in interesting ways. Grated carrot tossed with raisins that have been soaked in a little freshly squeezed orange juice makes a nice inclusion in a lunchbox compartment, or try skewering cubes of cucumber and cherry tomatoes on toothpicks. Vege-based dips also work well: blitz peas together with avocado, lemon juice and a little ricotta or sour cream then pack in a small container to eat with crackers or crispy tortilla wedges (just spray tortillas with a little oil then bake until golden, then allow to cool before breaking into pieces).
Still haven’t got on the spiraliser bandwagon? Make 2018 lunches all about your zoodles. Once you move away from thinking of them as a pasta substitute, and more as just a nice way to eat vegetables, you’ll soon be singing the zoodle’s praises. The Oxo Good Grips Handheld Spiraliser will make short shrift of your zucchini, along with carrots and beetroot. If you spiralise a few vegetables the night before, you can then toss them with toppings at work for a delicious and nutritious lunch. Pesto is a great addition, as is tapenade, and also try roast capsicum strips with cherry tomatoes and chopped roasted almonds, or a drained can of tuna with diced tomatoes and spring onions.