Meal planning and Cooking

Love your lunch

Love your lunch

A dynamic approach to the work lunch is a good way to prevent food waste and enjoy time out during the busy work day.

It’s very tempting to opt for the deli down the road when we’re in a hurry and that’s fine once in a while. However, spending just a fiver on lunch at work each day will cost over €1,000 in a year. Madness! We shop around for car insurance to save a few bob so why not do ourselves the favour and pack a lunch to save a packet? Right now, we’re loving this #foodsavy savings guide from Hubbub.

There are many ways to liven up lunchtime. We’ll probably end up eating more healthily as a result and bringing lunch from home saves on single use packaging too…woohoo!

Here’s what we’ve come up with to ensure a tasty lunch where nothing goes to waste:

Plan ahead. Make a list before shopping and think about the week ahead. You’ll probably have more time the night before. Check the fridge and the cupboards. See what needs eating up.

Love your lunchbox! Many of us have been traumatised since our school days when arriving in to school to a smushed yoghurt in the schoolbag was enough to put us off. If this is true for you, find a lunchbox that you love. Whatever works for you! A stash of lunch boxes and reusable containers at work or at home is super handy. Clear glass jars with lids are also very useful.

Lunch packaging. Many schools now insist that pupils take home any waste generated by their lunch. Maybe we should do likewise? Cutting back on packaging such as tin foil and cling film is easily done with beeswax wraps (not just for hippies!). They are now available in many wholefood shops and with the right ingredients (beeswax and pine resin) and a bit of googling, it’s possible to make them at home.

“Apparently, you can butter frozen bread straight from the freezer and sandwich together your favourite fillings. The sandwich will be defrosted by lunch!”

Use your loaf! Bread that’s growing stale is often perfect once toasted. A toasted sandwich is a good way to use up odds and ends such as meat leftover from a roast dinner, cheese, tomatoes, onions, scallions, etc. Consider freezing sliced bread so it will keep for longer. Apparently, you can butter frozen bread straight from the freezer and sandwich together your favourite fillings. The sandwich will be defrosted by lunch! (*We haven’t tried this. Let us know how you get on!)

Super Soup! Vegetable soup won’t take long to make at home. Incorporate the veggies lying at the bottom of the fridge before they turn. Keep it hot in a flask or heat it up in the microwave. Transport salad dressing separately to salads to ensure that the leaves remain fresh. Whizz up some pesto with herbs or rocket. Pasta pesto is super eaten cold the next day. If it’s easier, tie in the school lunches with your own packed lunch.

Leftovers for lunch. Reuse leftovers from dinner in the lunchbox. Leftover pasta can make a great alternative to a sandwich. Some leftovers are twice as nice cold the following day. Yesssss! For help, download Shiela Kelly’s Meal Plan or the 3 week meal plan from Hubbub.

Start asking! Advocate for canteen additions in your workplace such as an induction hob (fast food at its best), a microwave, or a toaster. This will expand your dining options. If you’re lucky enough to have access to cooking facilities, rustle up an ‘everything omelette’ or some fried rice with leftover rice from the night before. Keep an ‘eat me’ area in the staff fridge/canteen so that food that’s been abandoned can be claimed and eaten before it goes to waste.

Sharing is caring. Foster a culture of sharing across the organisation. Extend this practice to corporate events. Ensure that platters of catering are offered to all staff and visitors, or donated to a local charity that day.

Bon appetite! Relax and enjoy your homemade lunch. Prepared with TLC, this will reduce food waste in your household and save you money. Hopefully, it’s totally delicious to boot.

Banner photograph by Caroline Attwood via Unsplash