What to make for lunch day in day out is something I know lots of you are struggling with right now. Whoever you are at home with, or if you are heading out as a key worker, lunchtime is a tricky, but important, meal to get right. I’m getting so many requests for non-sandwich lunch ideas (not that there is anything wrong with a good sarnie) so I’ve pulled them all together for you below.
How our lunches have changed during lockdown
Before lockdown, my husband would get lunch near his office, my boys had a mixture of school dinners and packed lunches and I usually grabbed whatever leftovers I could eat one handed while I worked at the kitchen table. It didn’t take much thought!
We’re struggling, like many people, with managing parents working from home and two children who need us. So we don’t have much time to make lunch as well as everything else. But I still want us to have a balanced, varied diet that gives us a moment of niceness in the middle of the day. So here’s how I’m dealing with all that…
How we manage lunch in our house
I now sit down every week to plan a week of lunches as well as our dinners. That way we all know what’s coming and I don’t have to keep answering questions from everyone at home! It also helps me avoid waste and know exactly what I need to buy on our infrequent trips to the shops.
Over a week we usually have a range of things for lunch like this:
- A batch of soup that lasts 2 days, spread out over the week to avoid groundhog day – get the recipes below
- A BLT or cheese on toast another day.
- Smoked mackerel pate with bread and raw veg or salad.
- Houmous a couple of ways another two days – get the recipes below
- A fish finger sandwich or wrap another day. I am never without fish fingers in the freezer.
- I’ve started doing baked potatoes a lot more too.
- A flatbread pizza – always feels like a big treat even though its basically a cooked wrap
- Then one day at the weekend we just have a pick and mix platter from the leftovers in the fridge.
- I’ve also added this sweet potato and halloumi rosti to our rotation.
- Spanakopita – this pie is so easy to make for dinner and leftovers are fab for lunch the next day.
I’d love to see what lunch looks like at your house so remember to tag me on social media #cookwithgem.
A month of dinner ideas, shopping lists and tips
If you need help with making a plan for dinners and shopping lists so you can limit your trips to the shops and use this time at home to broaden your repertoire, join my meal plan service.
One pot of soup for 2 lunches
Soup is a constant in our house. I make a massive pan of veg soup once a week, using up any odds and ends from the veg drawer. Then we have it that day and again later in the week with bread and cheese.
Having soup in the fridge means that anyone can grab a bowl when they need lunch, and they’re getting at least a couple of servings of vegetables in one go.
Houmous – 2 days, 2 ways
Houmous is a great way to get veggie protein into everyone. Either make your own, or buy it and add bits to it. You can sneak roasted veg into it as you blend it to bulk it out and add more sweetness too.
I make a batch once a week and we’ll have it on sourdough toast with carrot sticks, cucumber wedges and baby tomatoes one day. Another day I’ll make sandwiches or wraps with bought felafels, grated carrot and rocket with the houmous.
It is also a great snack with breadsticks or veg sticks mid afternoon if the crisps are calling.
Loads more lunch ideas and prep tips
I wrote this article a couple of years ago to help people with packed lunches. It includes prep tips and recipes for frittata, spanakopita, banana bread, courgette and cheese muffins and loads more.
Most of us won’t be making lunches to take out of our homes for a while but we can use the same strategies to stock the fridge with grabable meals for everyone. If you are working and children need feeding, you can even leave lunchboxes in the fridge for them to grab if you’re on a zoom call.
Salad for lunch
If you’re more of a salad for lunch person, watch this video where I share my tips to build a perfect salad. This is a great way to clear the fridge and use last night’s leftovers to make an easy salad.
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