Over the spring and summer my lunches have almost exclusively been salads. I just love em! For me, they are the easiest way to get lots of healthy veg and lean protein in a tasty meal that leaves me full. I also love my volume foods, and salads can be made to fill a huge lunch box without being too calorific. My body feels better with foods like chicken, beef, fish, eggs, beans and starchy veg than it does with grains like rice, bready things or pasta. I definitely feel more satisfied when my lunch includes a good source of protein.
Now that the weather has most definitely turned from summer to autumn, even a hardcore salad lover like me is craving something warm and comforting. This is the time of year when we feel the need for something that is going to fill our bellies and give us that comfort food feeling. But when you find yourself unprepared, most food options that offer that warm comfort feeling aren’t the healthiest or even tastiest choice. I’m thinking office canteen pies and hot pots here! It does get tricky if you have no way of warming foods at work. I’m hoping most of you have access to a microwave, if not get a good flask and heat up at home in the morning. I know it can be a struggle to think up some healthy lunch ideas at the best of times, but when everything appears to take more preparation and cooking, as some soups etc do, then it can be easier to just say ‘sod it, pass the pie’. Well sorry but now you have no excuse, cause here’s a load of easy ideas for you!
Healthiest choices, straight off the super market shelves: These aren’t as good for your body or wallet as stuff you can make from scratch, but when you are in a pinch, these options are way better than the alternative:
- Any fresh soup from the fridge section (not canned) with some roast chicken or turkey or a wholemeal bun
- An Innocent Veg Pot (could also add some chicken or roast meat to make more filling)
- These My Goodness meals available in Sainsburys look pretty good. I was looking at these for a coaching client and actually tried one yesterday and as far as conveniencefoods go they aren’t too bad!
- M&S also do some great (but pricy!) options – look for their whole grain salad options which are delicious
- An Ilumi meal – I reviewed these a while ago, not strictly off the supermarket shelf as you will need to order these, but as far as ‘ready meals’ go, these are also a decent option
Quick and easy warm meals using basic ingredients:
- Baked sweet potato with a topping – tinned salmon, cottage cheese, tuna, black beans and a little cheese etc. A healthier version of a regular baked potato, warming and nice and filling!
- Scrambled eggs – I make these in the microwave at work in a glass bowl. I just crack a couple of eggs into the bowl, mix with a fork and nuke for a couple of minutes, pausing to mix them up while they cook. You could have these with a handful of sliced veggies and cook them in with the eggs. In emergencies I’ve even just had plain scrambled eggs with salt, pepper and some cream cheese stirred in. Better than a Greggs sausage roll!
- Baked wrap – I would probably make these with one of my grain free wraps, but just wrap up whatever filling you fancy in a wholegrain wrap, for example some black beans, red onion, spinach and cheese. Wrap it all up in foil and take to work, when you are ready to eat, take the foil off, pop on a plate and microwave for a few minutes. You’ll have a warm and toasty melted cheese filled delight for lunch! Or have hummus and roasted veg, mmmmm!
Recipe ideas Of course the best option is to plan ahead and make some recipes, preferably in a big batch then you have food for a few days or can freeze some extra portions. Before I share some of my own recipe ideas, here’s a couple I have seen online that look amazing:
- Mexican roast chicken and tomato soup from the Pet Lamb Girls
- 6 can taco soup from Lolly Jane
- Roast Squash with feta, pumpkin seeds and broccoli from James Duigan
- Moroccan Chickpea Soup from BBC Good Food
- Bacon and ricotta oven baked frittata from BBC Good Food
- Hearty red lentil stew from Stone Soup
and some of my old ones…
- Smokey, spicy black eye bean soup with greens
- Thai Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup
- Super Simple Cauliflower Soup
- Warm shredded brussel sprout salad with roasted pumpkin, feta and cranberries
- Warm butternut and lentil salad with figs
- Chickpea and chorizo stew
I’ve got some new recipes in the pipeline, but I’ll leave you with these two quickies:
- 1 medium sized butternut squash
- 1 tin of chickpeas
- 1 large courgette
- 1/2 tbsp of harissa paste
- 100g of feta cheese (optional)
- Peel and slice the butternut squash into cubes, roast in the oven at 200c until tender.
- Leave the butternut to cool, then add the drained chickpeas and the chopped courgette.
- Mix in the harissa paste and refrigerate until ready to eat.
- When ready to eat, transfer the salad into a plate and microwave for 1-2 minutes until warmed through. Serve topped with the feta.
- You could also enjoy this cold, or include the feta in the salad and microwave it with that in as well. It tastes delicious whichever way you eat this!
I shared this meal in a WIAW post a couple of weeks ago and a few of you requested the recipe. This still packs in a lot of veggies, gives you two big servings and offers some warm lunch time comfort for a cold day in the office!
- 1 500g pack of lean free range turkey mince
- 1 onion
- 1 sachet of taco seasoning (if you don't like it too hot, use half)
- 2-3 peppers
- 2 courgettes
- 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp of cayenne pepper (if you like it hot!)
- Greek yoghurt / avocado / cheese to serve (optional)
- Chop the onion and fry in a little oil in a large pan over a medium high heat.
- When the onion has softened, add the turkey mince and fry until cooked through.
- Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and cook for a further few minutes.
- Chop the peppers and courgettes into chunks and add to the pan, followed by the chopped tomatoes.
- Simmer for 15 minutes until all the veggies have softened.
- Add the cayenne if you fancy it, then serve with toppings, or portion up in freezer bags for quick lunches.
This is seriously so delicious. I’m having a love affair with taco spices and Mexican inspired dishes in general at the moment and this brings it all together. This was the first time I’d used turkey mince and I really loved the flavour of it in the recipe. Also feel free to whack in a tin of beans and more veggies to bulk this up even more. Some roast squash or pumpkin would be incredible in this as well! I hope this post has given you a few ideas for the colder months ahead! I’m also going to be sharing some ‘dump it and leave it’ slow cooker meal ideas – i.e. ones where you don’t have to brown any meat off first. I know that most people don’t have time in the morning to faff on, so I’d like to create some ideas that can be prepped the night before, popped into a plastic bag in the fridge to just be pulled out in the morning and added to the slow cooker. Do you have a favourite recipe for batch cooking and taking to work? Are you starting to crave warmer meals?