Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lunch Ideas!

One of the best things I started doing this year was regularly preparing my lunches on a Sunday for the week ahead, packing them up and bringing them all into work on the Monday so they are there for the week. I was never really one for heading to the shop for a sambo daily (not sure how people afford this), but I used to do a bit of a shop on my lunch break on a Monday and have enough soups/sandwich fillings to try and keep me going for the week. The is still my backup if for any reason my meal prep does not happen, but I find I enjoy my lunches a lot more when they are homemade.

A few people on my instagram and facebook have asked me to put together a post on my regular lunches Apart from my soup or fritata recipes, I tend to not use set recipes and work on a throw together basis depending on what I can get in the super market. There are a few variations of the same general idea's that I want to start with.

Vegetables & Grains:

The base I start with tend to be one of 3 grains; Quinoa, Bulgar Wheat or Cous Cous.

Quinoa is my favourite one and I use this most often. It is really tasty and it is a great source of protein, so tends to keep you fuller for longer when compared to a grain that has less protein. There are so many benefits to quinoa; some great info on it can be found here: 
If you haven't already tried it I suggest you pick some up and give it a go. I generally cook around 150g of dry quinoa to last for the 5 day work week. All you need to do is rinse it well, add water or stock (about double the volume of the quinoa) and cook on the hob for about 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. When its cooked fluff it up with a fork and leave to sit for 5 minutes with the lid on. It can be quite easy to overcook and go a little stodgy, so check it regularly after 10 minutes. When divided into 5 portions this will work out at 3 SmartPoints each.

Bulgar Wheat is next on my list and I adore this too. While quinoa is my preference for the protein content, I do think the Bulgar has the edge slightly on taste/texture. It is also easier to cook than the quinoa - no need to measure the water, cook and drain like pasta/rice. Its pretty fool proof, takes about 5-7 minutes in a pan of boiling water. It has a little more bite to it and a slightly nutty flavour. With the bulgar I cook 175g for 5 portions, and each portion works out at 3 SmartPoints, so you also get slightly more weight for your SmartPoints than with Quinoa. 

CousCous is my third option, and I tend to only go for this if I have no Quinoa or Bulgar Wheat. Not that I don't love CousCous, its just a bit more processed than the other options, and I prefer it with a saucy dish rather than the way I have it for my lunches. With the CousCous I cook 150g for 5 portions and it again works out at 3 SmartPoints per portion.

Now the veg that goes with it. I tend to go for roasted mixed veggies or cold salad veggies. Either way its always dependent on what is available in the shops that week and I tend to just keep chopping until I have what looks like enough for 5 portions. 

Roast Vegetables

So depending on what is available I would use a mixture of the following:
Butternut Squash
Red or White Onion
Mixed Colour Peppers

If using Aubergine, make sure to salt it first. After chopping,  sprinkle with salt and leave sit for 10-15 minutes while you chop the other veg to allow the bitter juices to be drawn out. Then rinse and dry with a clean tea towel or paper towels. For the roast veg, I chop it all to bitesize pieces, mix it up with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for 40-50 minutes at 200C. 10 minutes before the end of cooking, I stir through 1-2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar for a little sweetness. With the oil, 5 servings of this will work out at 1 SmartPoint each. 

After its mixed with the grain and divided into lunchboxes I sometimes top this with some Franks hot sauce and it is good to go. I tend to serve this with some mixed leaves and some chicken or prawns for an extra SmartPoint. If you keep the leaves separate, the rest can be heated and served along side the leaves. If I have some extra points, I will also add a little WW Feta or a Babybel light for another SmartPoint per serving. 

Salad Veg

The roasted veg are my favourite but I have to say sometimes its nice to have some raw veg for a change. Again I mix it up depending on whats available, but its always a selection of the following:
Red Onion

Once this is all chopped up and mixed well, I season it to taste and add either lemon or lime juice. Like with the Roasted Veg, I tend to serve this with which ever grain I have cooked, mixed leaves and either chicken, prawn, tuna or occasionally smoked salmon for 1-2 SmartPoints per serving. I also add in some WW Feta or Babybel and top it all with some low fat Thousand Island dressing (or whichever low fat dressing you prefer) for 2 extra SmartPoints.

These tend to be my main go to lunches and I try to mix them up as much as possible. With my added extra I usually end up spending 5-7 SmartPoints on these lunches and they are really filling. I do my batch cooking/prep on a Sunday and they will keep in the fridge until the Friday. You can adjust the quantities if you want to mix things up a bit more and have this only a few days in the week. 

If I am feeling really lazy or had a busy weekend, I will go to the Dunnes local to work on a monday, pick up a loaf of calorie controlled bread, some ham, low fat cheese & salad and stick to sandwiches for the week but I really don't think these are as filling. Or I buy some chilled soup (my favourite brand is the Glorious range) and some slimsters. Leftovers also work really well, half portions of the previous nights dinner are a good option if you are stuck. 

Check out some other recipes I have posted previously for soups or fritata that make for great meal prep lunches:

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