I recently read an article stating that the average Londoner spends £2,500 a year on work lunches (!!!!!) That is an awful lot of money spent largely on fairly boring sandwiches from Pret and overpriced sushi boxes from Itsu, which are also not particularly nutritious. I, personally, think this is a criminal amount of money spent on lunches, and pride myself on making tasty and cheap lunches for work that work out at no more than £1 a day (A total of £250 a year – so that’s a whopping £2250 saving annually. To put that into perspective, that could probably get you TWO two week holidays to Bali, Thailand or New York).
Apparently the top reasons most people don’t bring their own packed lunches to work is because 1. they don’t have enough time to cook and 2. they don’t know what to make. So I’m on a quest to help people eat tastier, home-cooked lunches and save money.
The idea behind this is batch cooking. Yes, eating the same meal 5 days in a row can get a bit boring, that’s why I’ve come up with 5 different recipes with pesto pasta as the base, to reduce repetitiveness. If you still can’t stand eating pasta for 5 days, you can make 5 meals, and freeze each portion for another day, or just give some to your other half to take to work. The process of making these 5 meals should only take 30 minutes. (Highlighted in bold, because, I’m sure even the busiest of people can find 30 minutes a week). So these can be made on Sunday afternoon and stored in the fridge during the week.
Ingredients for 5 meals = £5
- 1 jar (190g) of pesto (98p from Asda – this brand is really tasty and good value)
- 500g pasta (50p from most supermarkets)
- A handful of spinach (approximately 10p worth of spinach)
- 10 washed cherry tomatoes (5p worth of tomatoes)
- 6 cloves of garlic (5p worth of garlic)
- 50g smoked salmon (£1 worth of salmon)
- 1 mackerel fillet (70p worth of mackerel)
- 1 chicken breast (80p)
- 5 slices of salami (50p worth of salami)
- 100g grated cheddar cheese (30p worth of cheese)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Top tip: if you need to buy larger amounts of the ingredients listed, you can freeze extras so they don’t go to waste (always check the storage instructions first).
- Start by boiling your pasta in a saucepan according to the instructions. Whilst this is cooking, finely chop your garlic cloves and pan fry in the olive oil for 1 to 2 minutes until golden.
- Once your pasta has cooked, drain and stir in your pesto and garlic. This will act as your base for the rest of your dishes. Separate your pasta mixture into 5 tupperware boxes (I like Lock and Lock because they’re totally leakproof).
1. The Veggie
- Panfry your cherry tomatoes and spinach for 2-3 minutes and add to box one.
- You could also add leeks, onions, mushrooms or peppers according to taste.
2. The Chicken
- Next, panfry your chopped chicken breast until cooked through and add into the second box.
- Make sure you stir in thoroughly so the chicken breast is covered in pesto too.
3. The Salami
4. The Salmon
5. The Mackerel
- The next three dishes are as simple as slicing up your salami, salmon and mackerel into small pieces and stirring through your pasta. (Note: if you are going to freeze these dishes, freeze without the salami as most can’t be frozen)
- Grate your cheese and sprinkle on top of each portion. You could also add some black pepper.
- Store in the fridge and take to work each morning!
So, it’s really as simple as that. 30 minutes, 5 meals, £1 each. You’ll save money, and eat better…. and then you can go ahead and book that trip to Thailand!