For the past month, I’ve been work-experiencing, first at Marie Claire and then at Harper’s Bazaar, where I’m now in my fourth and final week. Being out of the house for lunch every day has posed some very challenging packed lunch questions, as how on earth can you find five weeks’ worth of interesting food that can be packed into tupperware? This is difficult for anyone, however I don’t eat a lot of things that would be considered easy lunch fare – bread, pasta, white rice, refined sugar, crisps, pastry and pie are things I don’t eat on a daily basis. Of course I have the occasional sausage roll (Ginger Pig) or egg naan sandwich (Dishoom), but normally I stay away.
Being creative with my food has become top priority – as if it wasn’t already – as I struggle to fit my normal lunch into a tupperware box. This week I’ll be charting what I’m eating for lunch and how I fit it into my handbag.
Monday – chicken, chickpea and avocado salad, quinoa bar and fruit
In the salad: two oven-baked chicken thighs with herb rub; grilled carrots, courgettes, red peppers and red onions; steamed broccoli; cos lettuce; oven-roasted chick peas; home-made guacamole; tahini dressing; raisins; seed mix.
Oven-roasted chick peas: drain from the tin and put into a small bowl. Add a bit of olive oil, enough to cover, then sprinkle over cumin and paprika, as well as salt/pepper. Toss onto a lined baking tray and cook on 180C for about 20 minutes, tossing halfway through.
Home-made guacamole: Mash up two avocadoes. Add one clove of garlic and a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. If you like zesting, throw in the zest too. Pepper it up. This will keep in the fridge and won’t go black as long as you cover tightly with cling film and put a slice of baking paper on top – yes, this works!
Tahini dressing: olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar.
Seed mix: I buy bulk packs of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds and toss them in/on pretty everything.
In the fruit box: half a pink grapefruit and half a conference pear
Quinoa bar: I made these beauties from this recipe. Being allergic to nuts, I omitted the almonds and threw in a handful of oats instead. I also substituted the fruit juice for cold raspberry/echinacea tea. They’re tasty, sweet and crunchy and keep me going during the occasional afternoon slump or on the train home if I’m peckish.
Usually this is a pretty hefty lunch and keeps me going nicely until dinner at home, which is about five or six hours after I eat lunch. There’s a lot packed into that salad, as you may have noticed, and I don’t always eat the quinoa bar. I just think it’s really important to have food to hand in case of emergencies, for example if train issues mean you get home two hours late.