Forget all that “New Year, new me” nonsense, 2016 is all about New Year, better lunches! Because no one deserves to eat nothing but peanut butter and jam sarmies day in and day out. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your back to work and your kids’ back to school lunches this year then look no further than our handy dandy list of 5 stellar lunch ideas. And the best part? They’re all super easy to pull together – leaving you more time to focus on your other New Year’s resolutions (or watching the new season of The Walking Dead).
1. From zero to delicious in 10-minutes or less
If you only have 10 minutes to throw together the perfect lunch for yourself or your child then it’s time to turn to the humble and oh-so-versatile egg. Make a quick pot of hard-boiled eggs and then stash them in the refrigerator overnight (or, if this is being done in the morning allow them to cool) for loads of lunch options in the morning. For work, pop half a ripe avocado in your lunch box along with a few slices of wholewheat bread for a lunch of yummy avocado toast with an egg on top in the afternoon. Another quick option is a slice or two of wholegrain bread with hummus and egg. For those who love salads, you can also try chopping your egg into an easy green salad packed with protein. For the kids try an easy option like ham and egg English Muffins or toss a hard boiled egg along with fresh veggies like cucumber slices, baby tomatoes and celery into their lunchbox for a delicious finger lunch.
2. All aboard the leftovers train!
Forget chucking those leftovers in the bin or leaving them in the fridge to be forgotten. Get creative with your leftovers and enjoy your dinner from a fresh perspective over lunch time. Almost any protein you cooked for dinner can be re-purposed for lunch the next day and take the place of cold meats. If you’ve had roast chicken for dinner then pull the meat off the bone to make a pulled chicken sandwich, pita, wrap or salad. Try mixing the chicken pieces with cubed mozzarella, pesto, and a veggie or two for a delicious pesto chicken sarmie filling or combine with greek yogurt, mustard, chives, apricots, and almonds for an apricot chicken filling for wraps and salads. Leftover salmon or tuna can be made into a delicious fish salad or pasta while that leftover steak can be stir fried along with some veggies for an Asian-inspired lunch for you and the kids.
3. Be a Quinoa queen
The easiest way to take the headache out of lunch prep is to make your lunch base for the week before hand. Quinoa is a superfood of note and is a superb base for lunches that need to be made in a hurry. Make a batch for the week on a Sunday evening and then add some chicken, feta and roasted veggies on top for an easy treat for both you and the kids. For a spicy lunch-time treat combine Quinoa with whole-kernel corn, jalapeno peppers, and lime juice or go meat-free with mushrooms and spinach. Quinoa can be spiced up with almost any protein or veggie so get creative and play around with a different combination every day.
4. Get ready to dip!
If you’re really pressed for time then make a dip based lunch for both you and the kids. Choose a dip you and your little ones love and then pack in a bunch of things to dip into it. Tzatziki, hummus or guacamole and mini pita breads and fresh cut veggies make for a great finger lunch. Or, for a sweeter option for the kids, try a nut butter with a selection of fruits and veggies to dip into it. Try making your own dip at the beginning of the week and adding it to your week-day lunches in different ways. Dips can be used for dipping (of course) but also as spreads on sarmies and wraps and a sauce base for cold pasta salads.
5. Have a health snack attack
If you’re trying to cut back on unhealthy snacks at home then why not spend some time making your own baked, veggie chips at home? They’re super easy to make and can be spiced to your taste for a healthy alternative to potato chips. Everything from sweet potatoes and carrots to apples and bananas can be made into a chip – all you need is a little bit of creative thinking. Other options for healthier snacky items include a serving of air-popped popcorn, cheese blocks, mixed berries or nuts. No matter what you choose, make sure there’s something small and easy to nibble on when the tea time hunger pangs come knocking.