Easy packed lunches
Ask any colleague what they’re having for lunch, and invariably the answer is “let’s just ta pao something”. But let’s be honest here. While a packet of nasi lemak is delicious, quick and easy (especially if you can sweet-talk someone else into queueing for it), hawker food is seldom good for your health. Even if you are lucky enough to have healthy take out options near your office, those boxed salads or sushi bentos can wreak havoc with your budget.
So, why not bring a lunch from home instead? It doesn’t have to mean condemning yourself to a boring week of sandwiches, sandwiches and more sandwiches. Here are some quick and easy packed lunch ideas that will see you from Monday to Friday:
Monday: Layered Mason Jar Salad
This takes literally seconds to put together and you can prep more than one and store until you are ready to eat it. The trick is in the layering – put the wet stuff at the bottom of a large jar so it doesn’t make everything else soggy and slimy. Start with a dressing (be generous), then add tomatoes and cucumbers. Top with the hardier veggies (broccoli, beans, snap peas), before adding your dry proteins (nuts, cheese, tempeh, ham). Top it off with as many greens and leaves as you can cram in the jar. To eat, just invert the jar and shake like crazy, before tipping it out onto a bowl or plate.
Tuesday: Super Simple Somen
In a glass jar, layer miso, chicken base, sesame oil, and sambal oelek. Next, add instant somen or ramen noodles. Then top with your favourite ramen fixings – bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, cooked chicken, prawns – whatever you like. When you’re ready to eat, just fill the jar with boiling water, cover and wait five minutes, before devouring at your desk.
Wednesday: Wicked Wraps
Anything you can put into a sandwich, you can put into a wrap, and then some! Wraps are awesome – not only are they less prone to going soggy in your lunch bag, they can be healthier than bread (look for spinach or sun-dried tomato wraps). Stuff them with whatever takes your fancy – my favourite is a spin on a Tuna Nicoise – think canned tuna, romaine, olives, eggs, cucumber and tomatoes. Skip the onion if you have a meeting after lunch.
Thursday: A cold cut buffet
This is my favourite for when the weather gets too hot. Get yourself a good bento-style lunchbox and fill it with your favourite cold cuts, pickles, cheeses and crackers. Add some fresh crunchy veggies or sliced fruits, and you have a balanced meal that is both filling and refreshing. This is another uber-quick packed lunch that stores remarkably well (just make sure you keep the crackers in an air-tight container), so feel free to make a few in advance and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to eat.
Friday: Make it a double
If you cook at home, double up the portions so you have an extra serving for lunch the next day. The kinds of dinners that do best a day later are soups, stews and casseroles. All you have to do is pop a portion into a Thermos so you can eat it hot the next day. Or if you want to save it for another day later in the month, freeze a portion in a plastic container. Take the frozen portion out on the day you want to eat it, and set it out to thaw on a counter as soon as you get to work. By lunch time, it’ll be ready for a quick microwave for you to enjoy piping hot.