Hats off to anyone who regularly takes packed lunches into work. After all, in between commuting, cooking dinner and dealing with housework, there isn't a whole lot of time to organise lunch for the following day.
From supper leftovers to tasty sarnies, here are our top tips on avoiding packed-lunch-pitfalls and keeping your food fresh and tasty...
Think about your sandwich ingredients
Those high-water-content ingredients are terrible for making your sandwich soggy. Egg or tuna salads, mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and cucumber are all culprits. However, you need not go without! With these tips you can still rustle up a delicious BLT...
- Use butter, rather than margarine – it serves as a better 'break barrier'.
- A crusty roll will fare better than sliced white, when it comes to those soggy fillings.
- Likewise, sandwich your slices of tomato between a couple of sheets of kitchen roll, to soak up excess moisture before it goes in your sandwich or salad.
- Pack fillings (like tuna or chicken salad) in a separate container, then add to your buttered bread at lunchtime.
- Use (dried) lettuce as a protective layer between the bread and salad. Crunchy.
Not into sarnies? We've got lots of other lovely lunch ideas.
Keep cool foods cool
Lunchboxes are cool - in more ways than one!
- Ideally, invest in one that has separate compartments, and a lid that stays firmly put. On those particularly hot days, add a mini ice pack.
- You could even try freezing yogurts, drinks and bread overnight. Pack them in your lunchbox in the morning and they’ll be nice and chilled and ready to eat by lunchtime.
Keep hot foods hot
If you don’t have access to a microwave at lunchtime, use a good thermos. That way, you should still be able to enjoy hot food up to five hours after you’ve packed it. But remember to follow these tips:
- Ensure that your lunch has been heated on a stove to boiling point or microwaved to a piping hot temperature before decanting.
- Preheat your Thermos before use. Simply fill it with boiling water, keep it closed for about five minutes, and then empty it again. This should help to keep your lunch hot!
This chicken and rice soup would make a hearty supper – and an even heartier lunch the next day!
Protect your fruit
Bruised and damaged fruit is a sad sight at lunchtime.
- Keep your bananas, peaches and other softer fruity choices protected by wrapping in a cloth napkin, tea towels or packing away in tupperware boxes.
- If you're bringing in sliced mango, apple, pineapple or banana, drizzle a generous squeeze of lemon or lime juice over the top to keep it from browning.
Use a jar
Using jars to store salad is one of the food trends of the moment. As well as looking darn pretty, it's practical, too. Here's why:
- Unlike the traditional tupperware box, these taller narrower spaces naturally keep a row of meat, grains and leafs in their separate positions. Layer up!
- A screw cap will keep the food locked in, air tight. Just bring a big bowl along too so you can tip all the lovely ingredients out when you’re ready to tuck in. Then pour your dressing over, and you're good to go.