Nutrition > Recipes > Recipe ideas

Working Lunches (2)

A whole week’s worth of nutritious lunches that are simple to prepare – often from leftovers – courtesy of Lawrence Brackstone


Lunchtime is a minefield for those of us that train to race. Ready-made, pre-packed sandwiches that are less than fresh, made with unhealthy fillings and heavily dressed in high-fat mayonnaise and sauces are the mainstay of a working man/woman’s lunch. And then there’s the other stuff – the crisps, cakes and chocolate we snack on in-between meals because the sandwich didn’t satisfy.

Because we’re usually away from home at lunchtime, it also means we’re away from where we normally prepare our own meals and control what’s going in them. The canteen, lunch trolley and corner shop remove a big part of our choice and control. Yet lunch is a key meal and the point in the day when most of us are at our hungriest. 

The five recipes outlined here are solutions to help change our approach to lunchtime eating, regain control and boost our energy levels until tea time. All that’s needed is a little pre-planning and a lunch box with a well-sealed lid. Not forgetting, of course, the all-important cutlery if your work place fails to provide.

The daily lunch ideas, each featuring a different dressing, are designed to be made using leftovers from previous meals and/or ingredients that will be found in many household cupboards. They take minutes to prepare, giving an economical, tasty answer to good lunch nutrition, and are all designed to be eaten cold. They’re also low in fat and have no added salt – and none contain onion or garlic, so you can attend that post-lunch meeting with confidence! 


MONDAY

Smoked mackerel, potato and beetroot with natural yoghurt and horseradish dressing

   

Mackerel provides a source of omega 3, beetroot is a great antioxidant and yoghurt makes for a tasty low-fat dressing.


Preparation time 5mins 

Ingredients

1 fillet (50g approx) smoked mackerel, skinless and flaked 
4 new potatoes, cooked and cut into slices
1 whole cooked beetroot, cut into chunks 
6 seedless grapes, whole 
A small handful of rocket or watercress
A small handful of pumpkin seeds

Dressing
1 heaped tbsp natural yoghurt
2 tsps hot horseradish sauce
Coarse black pepper to taste, optional

Method

1 Use potatoes left over from the previous day’s meal, if applicable, and cut them into slices. If you have to cook them specially, steam or boil for 10mins until cooked.
2 Cut the beetroot into chunks.
3 In the base of your lunchbox stir together the yoghurt, horseradish and pepper (if using).
4 Add the potato on top, followed by the beetroot.
5 Flake over the mackerel; add the grapes and pumpkin seeds, and finally the rocket/watercress. 
6 Stir all the ingredients together just before eating.

TUESDAY

Chicken, bulgar wheat and spinach with grain mustard and orange dressing

   

Bulgar wheat is like couscous on steroids: it’s meatier, easy and quick to prepare. This recipe has a nutty taste with bags of texture.

Preparation time 5mins

Ingredients

50g pre-cooked chicken, chopped
75g pre-soaked bulgar wheat (or couscous)
3 cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 regular tomato, quartered
6 cooked green beans, cut into two
10 spinach leaves washed – shred if too large
Dressing
3 tbsps natural/probiotic yoghurt
2 tbsps orange juice
2 tsps grain mustard (Dijon is an alternative)
Coarse black pepper to taste

Method

1 Ideally use chicken, bulgar wheat and beans left over from the previous day’s meal.
2 If not, cut the chicken into strips and stir fry with minimum 
oil until cooked. Pre-soak the bulgar wheat in boiling water 
for 10-15mins: use twice the amount of water to wheat and it will be completely absorbed. Add the beans to boiling water and cook for 2mins. Allow all to cool before using.
3 In the base of your lunchbox, stir together the yoghurt, orange juice, mustard and pepper.
4 Layer as you go: add the chicken, bulgar wheat, tomatoes, beans and, finally, the spinach.
5 Stir all the ingredients together just before eating.

WEDNESDAY

Tuna, pasta, red pepper and soy bean with Dijon mustard dressing

   

Soy beans are an excellent way to get extra protein into your diet – they also taste and look great.

Preparation 5mins

Ingredients

50g tuna fish in spring water (about a third of a tin)

90g cooked pasta – shape is your choice but needs to be fork sized

50g soy beans or petit pois
1/4 red pepper, cut into strips
A small handful of rocket or watercress

Dressing
2 tsps olive or rapeseed oil
1 tbsp water
2 tsps Dijon mustard
Coarse black pepper to taste

Method

1 Ideally use pasta from the previous day’s meal.
2 If not, boil separately until cooked.
3 In the base of your lunchbox, stir together the oil of your 
choice (rapeseed oil will provide a lighter meal), water, 
mustard and pepper.
4 Layering upwards, add the tuna, followed by the pasta, peppers and finally the soy beans.
5 Stir all the ingredients together just before eating.

THURSDAY

Chicken, noodle and crisp vegetables with an orange and soy dressing

   

Using raw vegetables provides maximum vitamins and a big crunch.

Preparation time 5mins 

Ingredients

50g pre-cooked chicken, chopped
65g (cooked weight) egg noodles (spaghetti will also work)
6 mange tout or sugarsnap peas 
1 medium-grated carrot

Dressing
2 tbsps orange juice
3 tsps soy sauce – I prefer Kikkoman for taste
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 small piece fresh chopped ginger
1 tsp sesame seeds, optional

Method

1 Ideally use chicken and noodles left over from the previous day’s meal.
2 If not, cut chicken into strips and stir fry with minimum oil until cooked. Soak the noodles for 4-5mins in boiling water until soft but not soggy. Allow both to cool before using.
3 Coarsely grate the carrot.
4 Cut the mange tout/sugarsnaps into strips.
5 In the base of your lunchbox, stir together the orange juice, soy sauce, oil, ginger and sesame seeds (if using).
6 Place the chicken onto the dressing, with the noodles next and finally the carrot and mange tout/sugarsnaps.
7 Stir all the ingredients together just before eating.

FRIDAY

Butterbean, tomato and feta with sundried tomato dressing

   

Saving the quickest recipe for the end of the week – a robust set of flavours that meat eaters will also enjoy.

Preparation time less than 5mins

Ingredients

100g tinned butterbeans, drained
4 cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 regular 
tomato, quartered
30g feta, or goat’s cheese, crumbled
40g broccoli florets, cooked
3 pieces sundried tomatoes, optional
A small handful of rocket or watercress

Dressing
2 heaped tsps sundried tomato paste 
2 tsps olive or rapeseed oil
Coarse black pepper to taste

Method

1 Preferably use broccoli from the previous day’s meal.
2 If not, boil or steam, keeping it crisp so as to retain maximum vitamins.
3 Drain the butterbeans.
4 Cut the tomatoes in half/quarter.
5 In the base of your lunchbox, stir together the sundried tomato paste, the oil of your choice and pepper. 
6 Layering: add the butterbeans followed by the feta and tomatoes, then the broccoli, sundried tomatoes (if using) and, finally, the rocket on top.
7 Stir all the ingredients together just before eating.

CHEF’S TIPS

Layer the ingredients in the box: dressing always first, greens and leafy food always last. Keep the greens and leaves away from the dressing until you stir it through at the last moment to enjoy a fresh, ‘just-dressed’ lunch.

It’s very important to keep these lunches chilled in a fridge prior to eating because they contain proteins. If this isn’t possible, use a frozen ice pack.

When using leftovers, make sure they’ve completely cooled down after cooking and use within two days. If you plan to use leftover rice, it should be eaten no more than 24hrs after cooking.

Cut the ingredients into fork-sized pieces – it makes for a much less messy lunch!

Think ahead. Plan your week’s menu and shop accordingly. Monday is the best day for a good lunch – following Sunday roast leftovers.


 
 

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