We’re all used to hearing that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, but lunch is vital too.
Whether you’re at work or at home, a tasty, healthy lunch can give you the extra pep that you need to get through your afternoon of work or errands.
But all too often, we don’t have time for to make ourselves a delicious, nutritional lunch and instead start to rely on shop-bought sandwiches and salads. If that sounds like you, rest assured that there are several simple and quick recipes for a tasty lunch that you can make quickly. Here are five of our favourites…
This is an excellent option for lunch on a busy Monday, if you’ve got some leftover Sunday roast in the fridge. Leftover roast beef is best sliced thin and layered high in a roll or baguette, with a thin scraping of mustard or horseradish to accompany it. Leftover pork or ham is also delicious with mustard, but goes well with a bit of pickle or chutney too. If you’ve got leftover lamb, stick it in a wrap with some hummus for a Middle Eastern twist. And for a quirky leftover roast chicken sandwich, swap mayonnaise for a dollop of peanut butter and – if you’re feeling brave – some hot sauce.
For more ideas on what to do with leftovers, read the great range of leftovers recipes from BBC Good Food.
Tomato and borlotti bean soup
For a quick, warm lunch that’s low on effort but high on taste, try tomato and borlotti been soup. All you need for this is a tin of borlotti beans, a tin of chopped tomatoes, an onion and a few soup-base vegetables like carrots and celery. Chop your onions, carrots and celery finely and sauté until soft – you can also add minced garlic at this stage if you wish. Then, add the tin of chopped tomatoes and some vegetable or chicken stock; simmer for 10 minutes and add the beans.
All this really needs is a little salt and pepper, but you can also add a touch of ground cumin and paprika to give it a bit of a spicy kick. For a meaty edge, fry some lardons or diced chorizo before adding the onions. It’s quick, easy and involves minimal preparation – you can also freeze any leftovers for later.
This tomato and borlotti bean recipe from taste.com.au is good recipe to start with, though this tomato, borlotti bean and spinach soup recipe is another tasty variation.
Couscous is one of the quickest grains to cook, so it’s perfect for an easy lunch. Simply measure out enough couscous (around 100g per serving) into a pan, cover it with freshly boiled water and close tightly with a lid. There’s no lead to turn the hob on – the couscous will absorb the water and cook in around 10 minutes. Now, add your favourite salad ingredients: diced peppers, tomatoes, feta cheese and parsley work particularly well, especially when paired with a lemon and olive oil-based dressing.
This 10-minute couscous salad recipe is a good lunch idea to have up your sleeve.
Experimental cheese toasties
If you’ve got a toastie-maker or Panini press at home or in your office kitchen, there are few more comforting – and easy – lunches than a cheese toastie. All you need is sandwich bread and some good sharp cheddar, though another ingredient can add an extra dimension. Experiment with different accompaniments, like chutney, pickle or chilli sauce. Tomatoes and ham are also delicious.
Want to experiment with toasties for lunch? These 30 creative toastie recipes should be enough to get you started.
Simply baked potatoes
If you’ve got a microwave to hand, you’ll be able to whip up a fluffy baked potato in 10-15 minutes. This guide from WikiHow shows you how to bake a potato in the microwave, without it exploding or going too soft. While it’s cooking, prepare your fillings: a handful of grated cheese is a classic yet delicious topping, and it’s easy to make a tuna-sweetcorn filling by simply opening two cans and mixing them in a bowl. A dollop of sour cream or cottage cheese can go a long way too.
So tell us: what are your favourite easy lunches?