My workday lunchbox blueprint

Ever wondered how to quickly get a lunchtime salad blueprint together? Click through for an easy pattern to follow & the recipe for this bacon, lentil and feta saladLook: I’m not making any claims that this is revolutionary food blogging here, but sticking to this my lunchbox blueprint this summer has made my life so much easier. And since sticking to this formula helped me, I figured it might help you too.

I now throw together a salad mainly consisting off  protein + carb + actually interesting dressing (all very variable), mixed up with some leaves and tomatoes or peppers for a bit of an extra helping hand in the veg department most evenings. This gives a surprising number of combinations – favourites listed down below – and it’s easy enough to siphon off a little extra leftover meat from dinner to go in the lunchboxes each day.

It’s quick to put together since I figure I’m doing some chopping anyway while chopping dinner, and if the carb-y element can’t easily be kept from dinner, then I’m using the pre mixed and cooked bags of grains you get back pick up in the supermarket as the element. Cheaper admittedly to make it yourself, but I figure this is still a better solution for my wallet overall than buying a full lunch from the high street instead (looking at you Pret, Eat, Vital….).

Listed below are some of my favourite combinations I’ve been going back to over the last couple of months, but if you have any other ideas that would work, let me know!

  • Falafel + torn pitta bread + tahini-yoghurt dressing
  • Bacon + grains + miso/ rice vinegar dressing
  • Cold roast chicken + leftover smashed roast potatoes + lemon/ oil dressing
  • Chicken thighs + couscous + harrisa mayo
  • Smoked mackerel + croutons + horseradish mayo
  • Hard boiled eggs + croutons + mustard/ caper dressing

Bacon, lentil & feta salad with a miso dressing

Bacon, lentil & feta salad with a miso dressing

Ingredients

  • 120g bacon lardons
  • 30g feta
  • 125g pre cooked grains (lentil, quinoa, bulghur wheat are all good to use)
  • 1 roasted pepper, finely sliced
  • Handful spinach leaves
  • Teaspoon white miso
  • Teaspoon rice vinegar

Instructions

  • Fry the bacon lardons until cooked through and taking on some colour around the edges. Set aside and let cool. In your lunch box, toss together the spinach, pepper, grains and feta until well combined, before adding in the bacon. Separately, mix together the miso and vinegar before pouring over. I tend not to worry about mixing this is as generally by the time I have gone from home to work, the box has been thrown around in my bag so much that everything is very well coated already!
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    Thai green chicken curry

    Updates from our corner of the world: our oven is broken, and we don’t quite know when it will be fixed because the best the engineer could give us was “maybe I can come on Monday evening, I’ll let you know”. So until that’s done, it’s looking like we’ll be eating a lot of salads and things that can be done on a hob only. Not necessarily a bad thing, and given the temperature seems to be climbing (*please, please last*) I think we’ll survive.

    Which is all a very roundabout way of saying: I think this thai green chicken curry will probably be popping up once again as a dinner this week. I know the internet probably doesn’t need another recipe, and this is really not an authentic version at all, but it’s quick to make after work, easy to load up with vegetables, and one of my favourite dinners whatever the weather outside. So here you go.

    Thai green chicken curry

    Serving Size: Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • Thai green curry paste
    • 600g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
    • 200ml coconut milk
    • 100ml chicken or vegetable stock
    • Handful of green beans (frozen is fine)
    • Handful of spinach

    Instructions

  • Start by heating a large frying pan, and cooking the chilli paste over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes until it is fragrant and the onions have cooked off. You'll need to keep stirring it as it goes so it doesn't catch and burn, and if it gets too dry, add a little extra oil. Once the paste is cooked, turn up the temperature and add in the chicken thighs. Let them colour all over, then turn the heat back down and add the coconut milk and stock. Let everything simmer away until the chicken is cooked through (about 20 minutes). Five mintues before the end, chuck in the green beans and spinach so they can cook as well, and before serving, season with soy sauce and fish sauce, then dish up with plenty of rice.
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    Miso Blondies

    If you like salted caramel, try these addictive miso blondies, for a savoury umami twist beneath the sweetness. 

    How to make these addictive miso blondies at home

    I’m lucky enough to work very near the Japan Centre just by Piccadilly Circus in London. Handy for a mid-week sushi craving, but it does occasionally mean I pop in for lunch and come out with a selection of ingredients that originally I had no intention of purchasing.

    Last week I ended up with a large container of white miso, which has suddenly become my new favourite ingredient (could it replace cardamom? maybe not, but I’ll keep you updated). Having only cooked with the miso soup powder, suddenly having thick miso paste to blitz into dressings and marinades has been a great upgrade to what I’ve been usually cooking with. And things took a weirder turn when I couldn’t get the thought of miso blondies out of my head.

    You’re into salted caramel right? I’m arguing this is just an extension of that, in blondie form. You get the salty layer from the miso, with an extra hit of umami to counteract the sweetness. Which in turn, means you can eat three on the row and still not feel too sick. Go on, you know you want to try them now…

    Miso Blondies

    Miso Blondies

    Ingredients

    • 125g salted butter, melted
    • 180g light brown sugar
    • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
    • 1 tbsp white miso
    • 160g plain flour
    • 120g white chocolate, roughly chopped

    Instructions

  • Start by putting the butter and miso on to melt gently, lining a square pan and preheating the oven to 180C. In a large bowl beat together the sugar and eggs until lightly frothy. Once the butter is fully melted, whisk into until you have a very glossy and well combined mixture.
  • Stir in the flour and baking powder and then stir the white chocolate through. Pour into the pan, give it a tap on a worksurface to even everything out and then bake for 30 minutes until set and glossy on top. Leave to cool for 20 minutes or so before turning out of the pan, and let cool completely before cutting into squares.
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