Alternative Lunch Box Ideas To Inspire Your Tastebuds
When you're taking your own lunch in to work day after day, it’s easy to fall into a Groundhog Day pattern - especially when you're short on time and low on inspiration.
From gourmet scotch eggs and mini Mediterranean pizzas to DIY dips and Spanish-style omelettes – here are some inspirational ideas to drag your lunch-box out of its cheese and pickle sandwich rut. All you need is a little imagination and a few minutes preparation time the night before.
Inspiring Lunch Box Ideas
Create your own mini pizzas by toasting an English muffin, split in half. Spread with tomato paste and sprinkle with grated cheese cheddar or mozzarella. Add your choice of toppings such as peppers, sun dried tomatoes, and basil or cured meats and sliced chilli for a spicy kick. Grill until the cheese is melted and golden then allow to cool before putting them in the fridge to chill. Enjoy cold or heat them up in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Couscous is a filling and low fat lunch that can be made in minutes. Boil the couscous in a pan of hot water for five minutes, stir thoroughly to avoid it becoming sticky and then turn off the heat to allow the couscous to simmer for three minutes. Take out and drain. Combine with roasted vegetables, chickpeas and a handful fo coriander or keep it simple with a splash of lemon juice, drizzle of olive or chilli oil and cracked pepper. If you crave a protein hit, add sliced chicken, stir-fried prawns or smoked salmon.
Sushi is surprisingly simple to make at home - once you've stocked up on the basic ingredients and tools. If you can't find these in the 'global' section of your local supermarket, hunt out your local asian supermarket or order them online. You'll need medium grain rice, rice vinegar (this makes the rice sticky), Nori seaweed paper, a bamboo rolling mat, soy sauce, wasabi paste and pickled ginger (Gari). To make your sushi rice, boil and add rice vinegar. When the rice has been boiled and cooled, mix the rice with your hands until until it has a sticky texture. Then you can begin rolling. If you're vegetarian, roll your sushi with diced avocado, peppers, chives or cubed cucumber. For a more convenient take on sashimi, used smoked salmon or tinned tuna.
Gourmet Scotch Eggs
Make your own gourmet scotch eggs - a far cry from the perfectly round manufactured versions you find in the supermarket. Surprisingly easy to make, all you need is eggs, minced pork and breadcrumb seasoning. Boil your eggs so they are halfway between hard and soft boiled for a lovely gooey texture when you bite into them, and let them cool. Wrap your eggs in minced pork, mixed with a small helping of wholegrain mustard. Season with pepper or herbs, such as parsley, thyme and sage and then roll evenly through the breadcrumbs. Deep fry for four minutes until the outside is golden and crispy.
Homemade soup is a great way to recycle leftover dinner ingredients, particularly vegetables, pulses and rice. All you need is a blender and some vegetable, fish or beef stock. Blend your ingredients and add to boiling water and stock. If you want to make your soup more hearty, bulk it up with boiled rice, pasta or crushed beans (kidney, chickpeas, lentils). Add tinned tomatoes, herbs and a dash of Worcester sauce for extra flavour.
Leftover stir fry can make a tasty Asian-style salad the next day. Add noodles (vermicelli or ramen noodles work well in salads), grated carrot, bean sprouts, handful of fresh coriander and almonds, mushrooms - complete with tofu, prawns or sliced chicken if you want to beef it up. Toss with asian salad leaves, like spinach leaf, chop suey greens and pak chi. Top it with a drizzle of soy sauce, chilli oil, ginger or lime juice to up the flavour.
A Spanish omelette or fritatta (thicker than a traditional English omelette) can be made the night before and eaten hot or cold. Sautee sliced boiled potatoes with onions, peppers, spinach or mushrooms until they are softened and beginning to turn brown. Add two beaten eggs and a generous handful of grated cheese to the pan. Turn over once the eggs have set and are beginning to turn brown underneath. Cook until set and golden on both sides. Let it cool before putting it in the fridge and then slice up and serve with salad the next day.
For a spicy Mexican wrap, line with hummus then top with sliced chicken, kidney beans and salsa. For a veggie alternative use thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, cheese and avocado and top with sour cream or light mayonnaise.
Pitta And Homemade Dips
Make your own dips and serve with slices of pitta bread. Blend chickpeas, garlic and olive oil to create your own hummus - or apples and sour cream for a tangy dip. To create your own salsa, blend tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, garlic and olive oil.
Lunch Box Kebabs
Make your own by threading alternate peppers, onions, courgettes and chunks of chicken, lamb or tofu on wooden skewers. Grill for 10 minutes then place in the fridge to cool. Drizzle with sweet chilli oil and serve with a green salad.