Nutritionist Bronwen King has great ideas to get us out of that sandwich rut, making the most of combinations of 10 ingredients for 20 easy, healthy work lunches.
Are you bored with the ‘same ol’ same ol’ lunch? While packing lunch to take to work saves money, too often we get stuck in a rut of monotony with the same foods eaten the same way, each day.
So we took a minimal list of simple ingredients and looked at how many different ways these could be put together. From 10 ingredients we have created an array of easy-to-assemble lunches to satisfy even the most discerning appetite. Watch your workmates turn green with envy as you sit down to a different gourmet lunch each day!
Our 10 ingredients
- Canned tuna in spring water (or salmon or sardines)
- Edam or reduced-fat cheddar cheese.
- Baby spinach or rocket
- Wholemeal pita bread
- Canned chilli beans (or baked beans)
- Spring onions
Basic pantry items to add
- Salad dressings
- Seasonings – salt and pepper
- Trim milk
Lunches you can easily assemble at work
1. Chilli bean baked potato
Cook 1 scrubbed potato in the microwave for about 4 minutes or until cooked. Score the top and squeeze to open. Top with chopped spring onion, 1/2 x 400g can chilli beans and 1-2 tablespoons grated cheese. Pop in microwave for 2 more minutes to heat beans and melt cheese.Serve with baby spinach and chopped avocado or leftover vegetables.
2. Pita pocket with tuna, baby spinach, tomato and avocado
Mix 1 small can tuna in spring water (drained) with a handful of baby spinach, 1 chopped tomato, 1/4 avocado and a little chopped spring onion. Add 1 teaspoon reduced-fat mayonnaise or salad dressing to flavour. Toast 1 wholemeal pita bread and split to open. Fill with tuna mixture.
3. Chilli beans, cheese and baby spinach quesadillas
Split 1 wholemeal pita bread horizontally. Spread the base with chilli beans then top with baby spinach and 1-2 tablespoons grated edam cheese. Grind some black pepper on top, place lid on top then place in a toasted sandwich grill. Toast until crispy and filling is hot. Remove then cut in quarters to serve.
4. Tuna, spinach, avocado and egg salad with toasted pita bread
Pile 1 generous cup baby spinach on a plate. Top with 1 small can tuna in spring water (drained), sliced hard-boiled egg, sliced avocado and any other leftover vegetables you may have brought from home. Drizzle with salad dressing of your choice and serve with toasted wholemeal pita bread.
5. Chilli bean and cheese mini pizzas with baby spinach salad
Toast pita bread lightly. Spread thickly with chilli beans then top with 2 tablespoons grated edam cheese. Grill or microwave to melt then serve on a plate with a pile of baby spinach topped with cubed avocado, 1 medium sliced tomato and sliced spring onion.
6. Grilled cheese and tomato pita toasties
Toast pita bread, top with grated cheese, sliced tomato and chopped spring onion. Place under grill or in microwave to melt cheese. Serve with a generous handful of baby spinach and a little sliced avocado piled on top. Eat like an open sandwich with a knife and fork.
7. Savoury potato and tuna stack with spinach and avocado salad
Microwave 1 large potato until cooked (for about 5 minutes). Cut into about 5 thick slices, place on a plate and top with 1 small can tuna in spring water (drained), 1 medium sliced tomato and 1 sliced spring onion. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons grated edam cheese on top, finish with a little freshly ground black pepper and microwave for 1-2 minutes to heat through and melt cheese. Serve with a pile of baby spinach and a little sliced avocado.
8. Pita pocket with chilli beans, avocado and tomato
Mix 1/2 x 400g can chilli beans with 1/4 avocado cut in cubes and 2 chopped spring onions. Toast 1 pita bread, open it up and stuff bean mixture inside with a small handful of baby spinach. A blob of thick low-fat plain yoghurt or reduced-fat sour cream complements this dish well.
9. Tuna and potato salad
Microwave 1 medium-sized potato until cooked (for about 4 minutes). Chop roughly. Mix with 1 small can tuna in spring water (drained), a generous handful of baby spinach, 1 sliced tomato, 1/4 avocado (sliced) and 1 tablespoon chopped spring onion. Mix well with a little reduced-fat mayonnaise or other dressing of your choice.
10. Tuna Nicoise salad with croutons
Split wholemeal pita bread and toast each half until crispy. Break or chop in small pieces. Pile a generous serve of baby spinach on a plate, top with 1 small can tuna in spring water (drained), 1 hard-boiled egg cut in wedges, 1 medium-sliced tomato and 2 tablespoons chopped spring onion. A few black olives (if you have them) complement this salad nicely. Drizzle with a dressing of your choice and top with crispy pita pieces.
Lunches when you are at home or have a bit more time
11. Mashed potato spinach stack
This is ideal when you have leftover mashed potato and cooked spinach. Pile mashed potato on a plate, top with cooked spinach and microwave to warm. Poach 1 or 2 eggs and serve on top of spinach. Serve with a salsa made from chopped tomato and sliced spring onion. Sprinkle with dried chilli flakes for extra flavour.
12. Tomato and cheese omelette
Beat 2 eggs with 1 tablespoon milk and add 1/4 cup grated edam cheese. Pour into a lightly oiled pan over a high heat. When nearly set add 1 chopped tomato. Fold over to serve, and serve with salad made from 1 cup baby spinach and any other salad veges you have on hand.
13. Poached eggs on toasted pita with grilled tomatoes and spinach
Chop 2 small tomatoes in half, spray with a little oil and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Place under hot grill until cooked. Toast 1 wholemeal pita bread, add 2 tablespoons grated edam cheese and grill till melted. Pile some baby spinach on top. Heat water with 1/4 teaspoon vinegar in a small pan. When simmering add 2 eggs and poach to desired consistency. Serve on top of spinach with grilled tomatoes on the side.
14. Scrambled egg with spinach, avocado, tomato and toasted pita
Toast 1 wholemeal pita. Set aside on a plate. Beat 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons trim milk and a little freshly ground black pepper. Melt 1 teaspoon reduced-fat spread in a small heavy-based pan. Add 1 egg, a handful of spinach and 1 chopped tomato. Stir occasionally until cooked. Serve on top of wholemeal pita with 1/4 avocado, sliced.
15. Pita nachos
Cut pita bread in half horizontally then cut each half in small pieces. Bake at 150°C until dry and crisp. (Tip: prepare a whole packet of pita at one time and store extra crisps in an airtight container for another time.) Pile some pita crisps on a plate. Top with some chilli beans then grated edam cheese. Heat in microwave or under grill until cheese has melted. Serve topped with a little mashed avocado. A dollop of reduced-fat sour cream or low-fat plain yoghurt is a delicious finishing touch.
16. Potato wedges with tuna and tomato salsa
Cut 1 large potato in wedges. Place on a lightly oiled oven tray, spray with a little oil spray and sprinkle with dried herbs or seasoning such as lemon pepper. Bake at 200°C for about 10 minutes or until cooked. Serve on a plate with 1 small can tuna in spring water (drained) and a salsa made from chopped tomato, diced avocado and sliced spring onion. Finish with freshly ground black pepper.
17. Chilli beans with poached egg
Poach 1 egg in simmering water. Meanwhile, toast 1 wholemeal pita and heat 1/2 x 400g can chilli beans. Pile chilli beans on top of toasted pita, top with poached egg and serve with a spinach, avocado, tomato and spring onion salad (other salad vegetables or leftover vegetables can be added here as well).
18. Boiled egg with cheese and tomato pita toasties
Boil 1 egg to desired consistency. Serve with cheese and tomato pita toasties: toast wholemeal pita bread, top with sliced tomato and grated edam cheese. Grill until cheese bubbles.
19. Omelette roll with tuna, tomato and avocado
In a small bowl mix together 1/2 small can tuna in spring water (drained), 1 tablespoon finely chopped tomato, 1 tablespoon diced avocado and a little chopped spring onion. Add seasonings or a little dressing and mix. Whisk 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water. Add a little reduced-fat spread or oil to a small heavy-based pan and cook mixture until set. Transfer to a plate then arrange filling along one edge. Roll up or fold over and serve with a generous handful of baby spinach.