3 uber-simple lunches you can make at work in less time than it takes to go out and buy something

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tomato, almond & pesto saladtomato, almond & pesto salad

We all know that bringing your lunch to work is a great way to save money. But I know it can feel like hard work at times…All that extra planning and thinking ahead.

I know I’m really lucky that I work from home and don’t have to pack my lunch anymore. But that doesn’t mean I’m also on the lookout for quick lunch ideas.

When I posted recently about one of my favourite lunches – a washing up-free salad, Stonesoup reader Jez suggested in the comments that they’d like to see more recipes you can make at work. The type of things that you can do with just a sink and maybe a microwave.

So here we are. Enjoy!

tips for ‘cooking’ lunch at work

1. stock your work ‘pantry’
Dedicate a small shelf or a drawer to lunch things and kit it out with the basics. At the very least some salt and maybe a little disposable pepper grinder. Although I’d also include some olive oil and vinegar so you’re always prepared for an impromptu salad. A packet of dried chilli and your favourite spice are also great to have on hand.

A little bag of nuts can also double as a snack. You could even get super organised with cans of tuna, chickpeas, beans or other good shelf-stable essentials.

2. stock up with the tools you’ll need
Depending on your work set-up, you might like to include a little chopping board and a pocket knife in your work lunch arsenal. If cutlery and crockery are scarce it might be a good idea to get a little lunch bowl and fork or spoon.

3. figure out the best storage options
Most workplaces provide a fridge you can store your lunch. But if not, consider investing in a little chiller bag. Or if you have access to a good food shop nearby, maybe allow time to pick up whatever you need in your lunch hour.

4. allocate the time you need
I always find cooking or preparing food a great way to relax and unwind. If you’re already using dinner time to relax, why not think about adding a couple of minutes to your lunch break for a little cooking relaxation. It’s a great opportunity to add a little de-stress in the middle of the day.

mixed sprout & avocado salad
mixed sprout & avocado salad recipe
white bean & tomato soup
white bean & tomato soup recipe
tomato, almond & pesto salad
tomato, almond & pesto salad recipe

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video version of the 3 recipes


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This week at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School we’re focusing on healthy 10 minute dinners and common mistakes with the Slow Carb diet in the Reclaim YOUR Waistline class.

CLICK HERE to join us!

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tomato, almond & pesto salad recipe
serves 1

1 punnet cherry tomatoes (250g / 9oz)
large handful roasted almonds
generous dollup pesto
1. Rinse tomatoes and halve crosswise if you have a knife, otherwise leave whole.
2. Scatter over almonds and serve with pesto on top.
3. Season with salt & pepper, if you have them.

white bean & tomato soup
serves 2

1 can white beans (400g / 14oz)
1 jar tomato pasta sauce
parmesan cheese, to serve, optional
1. Combine beans, the bean canning liquid and the tomato in a heat proof bowl (or 2 bowls).
2. Microwave for 3 – 4 minutes or until very hot. Alternatively heat in a saucepan on the stove until hot.
3. Taste. Season. Serve with parmesan shaved over the top, if using.

mixed sprout & avocado salad
serves 1

100g (3 1/2 oz) mixed sprouts
squeeze lemon juice
1 small avocado
generous handful brazil nuts
1. Rinse sprouts well and place in a bowl.
2. Drizzle lemon juice over the sprouts.
3. Halve the avocado and scoop bight sized pieces of avocado into the salad.
4. Season generously with salt & pepper and top with brazil nuts.

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{ 24 comments }

Rosa March 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm

What lovely recipes! so healthy and flavorful.

Cheers,

Rosa

janet March 8, 2011 at 3:53 am

I am in love with this site!

Bellambita March 8, 2011 at 6:42 am

Nice post, Jules. I work from home now, but I remember how expensive and limiting it can be to buy lunch everyday.
I have good tip about sprouts that i had to share.

Years ago a friend taught me that if you soak a handful of whole lentils in a jar for a few hours then drain the water out, (a piece of mesh over the jar opening with a rubberband works best) and leave somewhere out of direct sunlight, the next day they will have sprouted tiny tails and taste fantastic. If you rinse them once a day they will keep that super-sweet crunchy taste. Put them in the fridge when the tails are getting around 5mm long and that will slow them down so they don’t get woody. You can sprout other things (mung beans, alfalfa) this way, but I love sprouting brown lentils, and more recently delicious French puy lentils. If they get a bit leafy or tough, throw them in the compost and start again.

In the theme of this post, it would be very simple and spiffy to grow one’s own sprouts at work. You only need space for a jar and a small stockpile of lentils.
While traveling around Central America, we sometimes found it challenging to find and store fresh sandwich ingredients, so we used to grow sprouts in our car. We also sprouted while sailing around the Caribbean.. No scurrvy for us!
Try them with a soft boiled egg on toast and you will never look back.

jules March 8, 2011 at 7:24 am

bellambita
thanks for the sprouting tips.
definitely on my list to try – LOVE the thought of sprouting in your car!

katie moroney March 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Me and my office working man were just talking about this very idea tonight! I’m a cook, he is not. I was trying to figure out little ways that he could improve his office pantry! This is a great post and so helpful in proving my point!

cleo March 9, 2011 at 7:38 am

I just made the almond, pesto, tomato salad for my lunch. Added a little proscuitto and some blue cheese I had on hand- It was SO good. A new staple for me for sure. Thanks for getting me out of my eating out/ packaged food slump. You always make cooking so wonderfully easy and not at all scary.

jas March 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm

yum! All fabulous ideas and as a gluten free luncher I know how hard it is to find gluten free lunches when at work. These are definitely going onto my lunch rotation along with my leftovers!

Another Claire March 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm

What an inspiring post! With the best of intentions I headed across to my local supermarket at lunchtime, with the intention of making one of the two delicious looking salads. Unfortunately (in this instance, anyway), the shop in question has more of an Asian flavour than mediterranean, and it didn’t have any sprouts apart from the ones you put in stir fries – and only jarred pesto. In the end it didn’t really matter, I went for a walk around the supermarket and bought a bunch of things that I felt like eating and whacked them all together. It wasn’t something I would have dished up for anyone else, but it was very satisfying. It reminded me of when I was very small and my Mum would give me what she called “mixed bowl lunch” (ie. assorted bits of whatever) – obviously I haven’t lost the taste for it! So thanks for the inspiration.

(I’m also really excited about sprounting my own beans! They look lovely.)

Shae March 15, 2011 at 9:23 am

I have been searching my butt off for some easy DIY lunch ideas for months without success (I have a few, but I’m in a rut). This is *exactly* the sort of thing I had hoped for. THANK YOU.

Ell-Leigh March 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Wow. That tomato+basil+pesto salad is going to SO be on my plate tomorrow, it look amazing and it’s so simple! Thank you so much! What great lunch ideas!

Ben Turner March 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Love the blog and picked up the book in the bundle offer, so doubly happy now.

One tiny typo thing… “bight sized pieces” of Avacado ?

.missjay. March 29, 2011 at 8:05 am

Loved the cherry tomato and white bean soup, so tasty and an instant meal with protein, I’m impressed! Couldn’t help myself, I had to add some chopped parsley right at the end (such a mum thing to do)

Chris April 2, 2011 at 1:53 am

Am sitting in my cubicle enjoying the tomato sauce and white beans soup. I took your advice and stocked my little cabinet with pyrex, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a can opener. I am hereby set. Thanks!

Jason April 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Soooo cool! Thanks for the ideas… Gotta have my delicious greens!

kitchenvoyage June 15, 2011 at 3:08 am

good collection of recipes, but i would like have the nutrition values of the recipes. Thanks anyway.

LovesRealFood June 23, 2011 at 12:59 am

Hey Jules..
Thank you for your wonderful yet realistic recipes! I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon your website – considering I’m not a huge web user. Loved the video :) easy healthy eating.. here I come!!

Treat Keratosis Pilaris July 1, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I’m always missing lunch…i love food

Lucy September 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm

This is a great post – I work in a pretty suburban area and am often popping to the supermarket for ingredients to make lunch at work. One of my faves:

Avocado, lentil, tomato tuna salad.
Simple as draining a can of lentils and mixing in a bowl with one avo and 1-2 chopped tomatoes. Mix in a squeeze of lemon juice. I then separate into two serves and add a can of tuna to the one I’ll eat that day. Store the other mix in a container in the fridge (the lemon juice keeps the avo from going brown). Season with salt and pepper and presto – a delicious, protein-rich, healthy meal.

Melisa February 2, 2012 at 4:45 am

These look delicious! Cannot wait to try them! I wish there were more recipes! You should do a daily email with a lunch recipe like this. I will be your first subscriber!

L May 11, 2012 at 9:18 am

Made the tomato soup last night with chickpeas and parsley. Took <30 seconds to prepare. Delicious and so simple!

Meg June 4, 2012 at 12:05 am

Looking for quick healthy eating ideas, looks like this is fa great resource! Thanks!

jules June 6, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Thanks Meg!

Cafe Cup February 13, 2013 at 2:57 am

Helpful post. Though there are quick and easy ways to prepare a meal, we still seem to enjoy eating fast food especially when at work. Thanks for posting.

how to make extra money in college April 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm

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