Pack Your Lunch!

Annabelle White shares her tips and tricks:

We know it’s right on so many levels. Packing your lunch means you eat well and saves money, but sometimes it’s hard when racing to pack kid’s lunches, take the dog for a walk and face rush hour traffic. It can all be too much and yet you know it’s the sensible and healthy option.

Sometimes it’s just in the “too-hard basket” but I’m here to help and not make your life more complicated, sharing some great tips and advice when it comes to packing delicious and interesting lunches.

Planning and organization is critical

From what to buy and have on hand through to the containers you use, seriously, everything is easier if you have the right vessel to carry your delicious lunch and drink. Nothing is more frustrating than taking the trouble and making the lunch, carrying it to where-ever and finding it has collapsed over your diary or cell phone.

I have recently invested in some very smart and much beloved double stainless steel vessels for cold drinks and to keep soup hot in the winter. So bite the bullet and make the investment. You will have it for years.

Pantry basics

If you have the right condiments and pantry helpers in a jar or bottle you are set to go.

Take for example a simple ham and cheese sandwich. With a smear of mayonnaise instead of butter and a nice addition of Barker’s Spiced Eggplant Chutney you transform something predictable into something amazing.  Seriously an invite to lunch with a bowl of soup and one of those sandwiches appeals far more than fancy catering! 

PS: if your soup is a little lack lustre add a teaspoon of the same chutney and taste the difference. The hint of acidity and complexity of additional flavour really helps.

Eat more raw

We have heard about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, but now the experts say that not only will we be physically better off if we consume more raw fruit and vege, our brains will function more effectively and our moods will be better.  Enough reason to select a cluster of raw vege sticks in your lunch box and use natural unsweetened yoghurt mixed with your favourite Barker’s chutney as the “magic dipping sauce”.

Also, that same natural yoghurt can be the base for a frozen fruit smoothie and a great idea for added sweetness and helping to keep things cool – use your favourite Barker’s fruit syrups mixed with just a little water and freeze in ice cubes – add those frozen blocks to your smoothies and just shake well before drinking – YUM!

Mason Jar GranolaTalking fruit, if you often miss breakfast but by 10 ish feel the need for fruit, make little cereal parfaits with fresh fruit and natural yoghurt and granola.

A little tip is to add a generous slurp of your favourite Barker’s fruit syrup to natural yoghurt (or lemon curd) as a flavouring and added sweetness and it works perfectly with the granola and fresh fruit.

Mason jars

‘Salad in a Jar’ is also a fun way at night to make your lunch while you are serving dinner. It might sound odd, but it works!  Say you have made a rice pilaf or couscous base for roasted chicken and you have bean salad or a great raw vege salad you are about to dress.

Mason Jar saladTake the mason jar and fill a little with the pilaf or couscous, top with the cooked chicken and then the beans or raw vegetable salad. Place in fridge overnight and just hold on the dressing for now. Take that in a separate container to add to the jar when you are about to enjoy your lunch.

It’s really easy if you plan your attack.  In the winter, another option is to make your jar full of noodles and cooked protein add raw vegetables and add chicken stock or chicken soup to it and then enjoy! Don’t forget to add fresh herbs and even a squeeze of lemon juice. Who doesn’t carry a lemon in her bag when traveling around the country (just not coming back from overseas)!
Mason Jar Noodle Soup
I often heat chicken stock, add a teaspoon of my favourite chutney (or Barker’s Not So Sweet Chilli Sauce or Habanero Sauce for a kick) and then pour over the noodles.  The chutney or sauce gives the stock a personality and charm instantly!

Freeze items ahead

Make your favourite cheese puffs or muffins and add a spoonful of chutney to the egg/milk combination – delicious! Cook then freeze. Place the frozen muffin in a lunch box and it will thaw before lunchtime and keep the box cool. The same works for a favourite fruit muffin or bran muffin. Add a little Barker’s Lemon Curd to the centre and it makes a great flavour addition so easily.

Your packed lunch will result in colleague envy – you may need to find a private place to enjoy it all without the feeling you need to share!!

Happy cooking!