36-Packed-lunches

Packed lunches with punch!

If one of your new year resolutions is to save money, taking a packed lunch to work is an easy way to save some pennies. Here are some ideas to ensure you don’t get stuck in a ham sandwich rut…

Like most people I always start the new year with high hopes for boosting my budget. And also like most people, I usually set myself unrealistic goals that I’ve got no chance of achieving.

This year, though, I’m going to do away with drastic changes and instead commit to making small changes that will make a big difference over time. And one of those small changes is to take a packed lunch to work every day – I dread to think how much money I’ve spent over the years. I’ve invested in some clever containers so I won’t have to deal with squashed sandwiches, soggy salads or leaky soups, and am thinking outside the box when it comes to deciding what to put inside the box.

Soup

What’s great about soup is that it’s cheap, easy and filling and you can make it from pretty much anything you have to hand. I never run out of ideas – there are so many recipes to try that I never get bored and tend to experiment with seasonal produce.

This winter, I’ll spend a Sunday making a batch of this parsnip and apple soup and freeze it in individual portions to take to work. I use an airtight container that goes from freezer to microwave, with a steam vent in the lid to allow hot steam to escape when I’m reheating.

Sandwiches

Waldorf sandwich

It’s all too easy to stuck in a sandwich rut. While there’s nothing wrong with a classic, I tend to go for fillings that have a bit of an unexpected twist, like this chicken Waldorf sandwich. When it comes to transporting it from home to the office, I swap cling film for a sandwich cube, which holds it together perfectly.

Salads

Mixed bean antipasti salad

It’s easy to think that salads are just for summer but there are so many things to make with seasonal winter vegetables. If I have time the night before, I’ll toss cubes of pumpkin or squash in a little olive oil and a sprinkling of warming spices such as cumin, chilli and cayenne pepper, then roast in a hot oven until tender and caramelised. In the morning, I’ll mix it with spinach leaves or kale, olives and feta cheese and take along a red wine vinaigrette to dress it with.

On days when I’m pushed for time, I keep it really simple with an assembly salad made with ingredients I always have knocking about in the storecupboard or fridge, like this mixed bean antipasti salad. It’s worth invest in an airtight container that has a separate pot to store dressing in so you can add it just before you’re ready to eat.

I save even more money when I take my own breakfast into work with me. I not only avoid those early morning coffee shop pit stops on the way in to the office, but it fills me up so I steer clear of the vending machine come mid-morning. Cereal pots are great – they have separate sections to store the milk and come with a spoon, too.

Three key pieces:

Klip Lock to go salad box Cereal pot sandwich cube box

Klip Lock to go salad box, £5.50; sandwich cube, £4; cereal pot, £3.