Most of us can’t afford to splash out €10 on a fancy lunch at the end of the month, so we’ve put together our top cheap packed lunch ideas to keep even the most hardened of lunch buyers happy during this frugal time.
Chunky Roast Veg With Feta
Once a week, buy the vegetables that are on offer in your local supermarket, cut into the same sizes and roast until softened and burnished around the edges, with the help of a drizzle of olive oil. Throw in a few cloves of garlic and some rosemary and thyme for herby pungency. If you don’t have fresh herbs, try scattering some dried Herbes de Provence over your veg, or some paprika if you want a spicy hit. We enjoy our roast veg throughout the week as packed lunch; either topped with crumbled cheese, or leftover meat from dinner the night before, or mixed with rice or quinoa and a tablespoon or two of homemade vinaigrette. Roasted veg tastes great at room temperature, and will stand up to a sweaty lunchbox for a few hours without compromising on taste.
Mexican Bean Burgers
The bean burger is a versatile beast. Make a batch, and store in the fridge between sheets of greaseproof paper for up to a week. Eat, stuffed into pitta with some leaves and tomatoes, or over a rice salad, or crumbled into a wrap with a smear of hummus and a few roast peppers from a jar.
Pasta With Homemade Pesto
Leftover pasta can be a beautiful thing, when treated with care. Simple pasta drizzled with pesto comes into its own when sprinkled with breadcrumbs dry fried with Parmesan and thyme, or when ripe cherry tomatoes are squished through it. Bring an extra tub for your dry toppings like crispy bacon bits or extra pine nuts, and sprinkle through with a generous glug of olive oil before eating.
Quinoa Salad with Mint, Orange and Beetroot
Quinoa is high in protein, super filling and relatively cheap to throw together. It absorbs flavour like couscous, so be generous with your salad additions, and remember that the success of any salad lunch is on achieving the following taste sensations: crunch, smooth, salty, sweet and sour.
Potato & Chorizo Fritatta
On the most broke of days, embrace the egg. A fritatta can be whipped up in minutes, baked in the oven and sliced into individual portions for use throughout the week. Wrap them in greaseproof paper in the fridge to make sure that they stay in good nick, and fill them with anything you have in the store cupboard or fridge. If you want individual portions straight out of the oven, try cooking baby fritattas in a muffin tin for about 12 minutes each.