When you work in an office, you’ve got two options for food: bring your own lunch from home, or spend a fortune each week on pre-made food (probably a sandwich) from a nearby cafe or supermarket.
If you’re one of those people who brings in your own lunch, chances are that quickly descends into ‘sandwich every day’ territory too.
Here are three ideas to make your office lunchbox more interesting.
(Vegans and vegetarians, please use your own substitutes where I have used meat and dairy (soy cheese works SO well for the pizzas!). Also, if you are gluten free, these recipes will still taste good with the gluten-free versions of wraps and puff pastry. Substitute what you need, readers. These will still work!)
Oh god no, not salad. Health food, yuk! Right?
Salad can be anything you want it to be. From a filling pasta salad to a classic chicken caesar, grab some leaves and veg and get creative. Shove it in a jar like the photo, or just have it in a tupperware. You can literally put anything in a salad, and the options are pretty much endless.
Some of my favourites are:
- Feta cheese, fancy salad leaves, tomatoes and croutons with a French vinagrette dressing.
- Chicken, tomato and basil pasta salad with a tomato mayonnaise dressing – make the dressing by mixing the mayonnaise with some tomato puree or ketchup. It’s delicious. I use fusilli pasta for this – I find this shape holds the dressing better.
- Egg and salami salad. Boil two eggs, let them cool, shell them and cut them into quarters. Get some big leaves of Romaine lettuce, shred them up. Chop up your favourite salami. Cover liberally in mayonnaise and just a dash of cayenne pepper to give it some ‘wow’. I recommend you eat this with a thick slice of brown bread slathered in butter. Mmm. Delicious!
Avocado salad is a classic, and even Quorn pieces work well in a salad, for those of you who don’t eat animal products. Go crazy with your salads, shove multiple things in a bowl, mix it all up with a dressing (shop bought dressings save time and taste good, don’t feel guilty about not making your own) and see what you can create.
Ok, so this is technically a sandwich, but it’s lighter than a sandwich. Plus there’s all sorts of wraps you can use – corn, wheat, wholewheat, tomato, spinach, gluten free… the list goes on.
Here are three of my favourite wrap fillings:
- Tuna mayonnaise. Make this to your liking, lay some big leaves from a butterhead lettuce on a wrap, add red onion for crunch if you want, roll it, cut it and eat it. A classic, and you can’t go wrong.
- Breaded chicken. This is an excellent wrap filling, because you can pair it with anything. My favourite is tomatoes, spicy mayonnaise (chipotle mayonnaise works) and some fancy leaves. Yummy!
- Cheddar cheese and Branston pickle. A very British combination, this works really well in a white wrap. Lay down the pickle, then put liberal amounts of grated cheddar on top of it. Roll, slice, eat.
The filling combinations are, essentially, endless. You can wrap anything – steak and cheese is another that’s very good, and if you heat it in the microwave, the cheese melts and is ooey and gooey and tasty. I’m getting hungry typing this now!
I see you squinting at that header, reader. Yes, pizza as a work lunch food. I’m not suggesting that you buy a takeaway pizza either (although leftover takeout is a totally legitimate lunch food, gods know I’ve done it enough), as there are quick pizza-like recipes you can whip up at home.
Obviously with these pseudo-pizzas, you can use any topping you like. Even pineapple, although if you do that we can’t be friends anymore.
So here’s three ideas for making your own pizzas that you can have for lunch at work:
- Ciabatta base. Get a ciabatta roll or loaf, cut it, spread the cut side with the tomato sauce of your choice (marinara, puree, you know the drill), add on the cheese of your choice, any toppings you want, and stick it in the oven. This one tastes good cold – beware of reheating ciabatta, as it can go soggy.
- Pizza quesadilla. This is one you can reheat in the microwave – for some reason, the wraps survive the reheating process well. To make this, paint some olive oil or melted butter onto a tortilla, lay it oily-buttery side down in a pan, cover it with your chosen toppings and cheese, put on the second tortilla, flip it, cook it on the other size, let it cool, cut it up and take it for lunch the next day.
- Puff pastry pizzas. These are a fun thing to make for a party as well, especially if you make mini ones. Simply take a sheet of ready made puff pastry (life is way too short to make your own, sorry Mary Berry), cut it into circles or squares as desired, top with your preferred pizza toppings, and bake. These again can’t be reheated, so you’ll be eating this one cold. The best topping for this is simply tomato and mozzarella, I’ve found. Delicious.
Again, go nuts, see what you can create. There are ready made vegan puff pastries available out there, and a quick Google has yielded some recipes for it that are both vegan and gluten free. There’s something for everyone!
So there you have it. Three lunch options that aren’t just a boring old sandwich. The possibilities are pretty much endless, and it really comes down to what you like. Almost anything can become salad, anything can be a wrap, and we all know that pretty much any topping works on a pizza. Let your creativity flow, and share some of your creations (especially the pizzas!) in the comments. Happy lunching!