Are you bored of sandwiches? Cuppa soups? Unappetising salads? Fast food?
Are you starving by mid afternoon?
Do you find it hard to get organised with making lunches for work the night before?
If you are lucky enough to work somewhere which gives you access to a kitchen with a microwave during the day - this blog post is for you.
I am - quite often - office based for my job and my fiance works in a bank, so we both have access to kitchens for our lunches. So this worked really well as a tactic for us. Whatever you make for your evening meal, if it can be varied in portion size, take some to work for your lunch the following day.
Invest in a medium sized solid plastic tupperware-style box. They’re not expensive, and they are easy to clean. Make sure it is air tight and try to get one with a solid lid. Recycle if you’re short of cash, us an old icecream tub, or a family sized margarine tub. And this is how it works:
When we dish up our evening meals, we cut our portion size down a little, and put some into boxes for the following day. Meals which have been successful for doing this have included:
* Pasta Bolognese
* Curries with rice
* Stirfry with rice (or just the Stirfry mix with some insta-noodles heated up using boiled water from the kettle)
* Stew/Hotpot with mashed potatoes or roast potatoes
* Toad in the hole (with bits of sausages rather than whole ones) with roast potatoes or mashed potatoes
* Fajita mix (this will be my next recipe!) with wraps
* Pies - Chicken Pie, Steak Pie, Corned Beef Pie, any pie! Heat it up and it tastes so much better.
If your food needs gravy, you can do that if you have access to a kettle. Take some gravy granules with you in a little bag or pot - I use an old spice jar. Mix them with half a mug of hot water from the kettle, stir and pour into your box when the microwaving is done.
A few scoops of these into a box makes an excellent lunch the next day. Whack any of it in the microwave on high for 4 minutes - it won’t burn, honestly, and better to have it slightly overdone rather than underdone.
I usually remove the box half way through and give whatever is in it (rice, pasta, mix, whatever) a good stir to mix it up. If you’ve got mashed potatoes, give it a fluff up with your fork. Microwaves are supposed to heat things equally, but the ones I have encountered never do. This is especially important for dishes with re-heated rice because it’s *so* important to heat the rice properly all the way through, to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
But won’t the food make a mess in the microwave? I hear you cry.
That’s why you ideally need a box with a solid lid. Remove the lid so that the airtight seal is broken, and then balance it on the top to keep some of the steam in to keep your food moist.
DO NOT LEAVE THE AIRTIGHT SEAL CLOSED - YOUR BOX WILL EXPLODE! I AM NOT KIDDING!
Also - BE CAREFUL WHEN REMOVING IT from the top of your box once the microwaving is done, because the lid will have trapped steam underneath it. Use a tea towel to protect your hands from burns. It is easier to do this with a solid lid. You can do it with a floppy one, but it takes a bit of practice.
My lunchbox is great because the lid acts as a tray, it fits under the base exactly - so once I’ve carefully removed it and rinsed it in cold water to stop it being boiling hot, I can place the box on top of it and use it to carry it to the eating area without risking burning my hands or dropping the box and making an almighty mess.
This also means that I don’t use up any plates in the kitchen, I just eat my food straight out of the box and then rinse it afterwards before taking it home. I’d recommend taking a spare fork with you if you’ve not checked what’s available - they tend to disappear in communal kitchens.
Obviously if you work at home and have a microwave - this would be perfect for you too :-)
By doing this, we have found the following:
* We enjoy our food in the middle of the day far more and we’re more awake and alert in the afternoon
* We save money because we’re not spending money on McDonalds, Subway, KFC, Sandwich shops, Deli Food and convenience food from Supermarkets
* We are fitter and healthier because we have made all of our food ourselves - everything is fresh and good for us without additives and nasty chemicals, like some convenience microwave foods have.
* We look forward to eating in the day a bit more than we did when it was ham sandwiches… again…
Do not try to reheat anything that was made with cream or creme fraiche. No matter how well you heat it up, we have found that dodgy stomachs and lengthy toilet breaks tend to follow :-(
Your workmates will walk in, sniff the air and go ‘ooooh, that smells good, whatcha got?’. Do not give them a taste. You will have no lunch left. But do give them the recipe and let them in on the secret of leftovers-for-lunch :)