As much as I like being able to order in my lunch (from The Fantastic Sandwich Company in case you’re wondering) so it comes straight to my desk, the joys of tax credit screw ups and the constantly rising price of food and other things against my wages means I’m having to look at my budget and be careful with what I spend. One of the obvious candidates for saving money is by making your own lunch for work. Having thought about it, my criteria for home made office lunches were that they should be:
1) Easy and safe to carry in a backpack (nobody wants to have a tomato-infused laptop, right?)
2) Easy to make ahead. I refuse to get out of bed any earlier than I already do, so they have to be able to be prepared at least the night before, though it’s better if they store for a day or so.
3) Easy to eat without looking stupid. I work in an office with a small kitchen, so most of the time lunch is at my desk. This means that my lunch has to be the kind that you can eat with at least a bit of decorum, and not end up with it splattered on keyboard and clothes afterwards.
As well as the above, ideally I wanted to get at least one of my 5-a-day fruit and veg in the lunch.
Lunch 1: Leek and potato soup
This should serve around 4 people – you might get an extra bowl out of it if you have a small appetite. It is ok to freeze, so why not freeze a few portions in microwaveable tubs? Then you can grab from the freezer on the way to work and it should be more or less defrosted by lunchtime.
1/2 an onion
1-2 potatoes per person (I used 6)
1tsp stock powder (I used Marigold)
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
Optional: Parmesan cheese rind*
1) Chop the onion finely and fry in the olive oil until soft.
2) Meanwhile, chop the leeks, making sure to clean off any bits of mud or grit, and not including the really tough dark green parts at the top. Also peel and chop the potatoes and roughly chop the garlic clove.
3) Add the leeks, garlic and potato to the onion and continue to let the mixture sweat for a few minutes. You may need to stir frequently to ensure the potato doesn’t stick. You’ll know this stage is finished when the leeks seem to turn a brighter green.
4) Sprinkle over the stock powder, add the bay leaf and the parmesan rind if you are using it. Then add boiling water to cover the vegetables by about 1-2cm. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer.
5) Depending on how big you cut your potatoes, it should take around 20-30 mins for the soup to be ready – to check, you should be able to easily crush a potato against the side of the pan with your wooden spoon/spatula. Check the seasoning – you will probably want to add a good grinding of pepper, but depending on the stock you use, you might not need to add salt.
6) Once the soup is cooked, take out the parmesan and bay leaf and then either blend, mash or just leave as is for a chunkier soup.
Tip: You can eat this with bread, but it’s also nice with some crunchy seeds scattered on the top, eg pumpkin and sunflower seeds.