Heading back to work or college after New Year's, the Christmas buzz is well and truly over. Gone are the cheeky mulled wines and the epic Christmas lunches – with January stretching out ahead it's all about budget-friendly eating this month.
Lunch breaks are one of the easiest ways to go through money without even realising. Rather than spending your precious cash on ready-made sandwiches or café lunches, make something just as tasty – if not tastier – at home yourself.
With a little planning you'll find you spend far less, making the long wait for payday just a bit more bearable!
Here are a few of our favourite healthy and portable lunch ideas…
1. Easy pasta salad
Most likely you already have the ingredients for this in your kitchen cupboard! If you're not a fan of tuna, swap in sliced chicken or turkey, or add some extra veggies. Recipe makes 2 portions.
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion
- 1 teaspoon green pesto
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 185g can of tuna in spring water, drained
- 100g cooked pasta
- Handful of cherry tomatoes or 2-3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
- In a small bowl, mix the onions, pesto and oil.
- Chop tuna into small chunks and place in a bowl with the pasta and tomatoes.
- Stir in the pesto dressing mix.
2. Spiced cous-cous and chickpea salad
Perfect on its own for lunch or as a side salad with dinner! Recipe makes 2 portions.
- 100g couscous
- 220g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 100ml hot water with chicken stock cube crumbled in
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 raw red pepper, chopped
- 25g pistachios, chopped
- Handful of mint leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon harissa paste
Place chickpeas and cous cous in a bowl and pour the hot water with chicken stock over them.
Cover and allow the cous-cous to fully absorb the stock (5 – 10 minutes)
Let cool a little and stir in the lemon juice, pepper, pistachios and mint.
Top with yoghurt and harissa.
3. Warming winter soup
Make this in a large batch to see you through the week – great with a slice of crusty bread or toast!
- 4 carrots, diced
- 4 sticks of celery, diced
- 3 onions, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- Thyme and oregano, finely chopped
- 2 chicken or veggie stock cubes
- 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
- Small pasta shells or macaroni
- Sweat the garlic, thyme and oregano with some oil in a large saucepan.
- Add the carrots, celery and onion.
- Allow them to cook on a low-medium head for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chopped tomatoes (including juices).
- Add two pints of water, or enough to cover everything.
- Crumble in the chicken stock cubes, and allow everything to simmer on a low-medium heat for 30 minutes.
- Add the dry pasta and allow to simmer for a further 15 minutes.