Best Budget Lunch Ideas | mean leeks
As more and more of us return to the office, not having your kitchen on hand to whip up a quick lunch can mean a return to old habits – and lunch deals on a budget.
The mainstay of many working days, grabbing a meal is seen as the cheapest option, with supermarket deals starting at £3.00 for a sandwich, crisps or something sweet, and a drink .
It might seem like good value for money, but take a closer look and they’re not that appealing. First of all, you are charged pounds for what you could earn much less, and you are more likely to eat fatty and sugary supplements like soft drinks or chocolate, when you have just had a sandwich, because it is a good deal.
Although there are a growing number of plant-based options, they are highly processed, and in any case, meat sandwiches like BLT and chicken and bacon sandwich remain. the most popular.
Cheap meat means the price is paid somewhere, whether through lower welfare or grain imports for animal feed that cause deforestation, and recent studies have shown that we need to drastically reduce the factory-farmed pork and chicken for a more sustainable diet.
All meal deals have another major problem: plastic. Even if you try to take the healthier option, a bottle of water is one-time use. Before the pandemic, the UK consumed seven million cheap lunches every dayspending £20m a year and generating 11 billion packaging waste per year.
The lunch offerings are also oddly unseasonal – you know it’s Christmas when a turkey and stuffing sandwich is on the shelves, but other than that it’s the same stuffing day after day. Not exciting at all. The industrial breads used can be difficult to digest and are not filling, so you are often very hungry by mid-afternoon and are more likely to have caffeine or sugary snacks.
Try to eat your own lunch at work one or two days a week to start with, and if you can get to a green space to enjoy it, great.
Try these budget DIY and healthy lunch ideas to cut costs, eat well, and ditch single-use plastic:
Equip yourself with a water bottle, a leak-proof sandwich box and a wide-mouth thermos bottle. Excellent additions can be reusable sandwich wraps, bamboo cutlery and an insulated hot drink bottle. There’s a lot to buy all at once, so start with the key items and scale up; when it comes to birthdays or Christmas and people ask you what you would like, point them in that direction.
Flavored waters are easy to make and refreshing – just add an ice cube and a sprig of herbs, a few slices of fruit or berries and other natural flavors when you fill your water bottle in the morning. Try lemon, turmeric and ginger, or strawberry, mint and cucumber, tangy raspberry and lime or cinnamon stick and apple – play around to find your favourite.
With people often preferring a late brunch and light snacks to a hearty lunch, “breakfast on the go” is a big seller. It’s so easy to make oatmeal overnight in a jar before bed, store it in the fridge, and grab it on the way out in the morning instead. For a good recipe, with peanut, chocolate and banana or fig, honey and almond variants, Click here.
Soups and stews are your best friends at lunchtime – cook them in batches and freeze them in portions, microwave them in the morning and put them in your thermos. They use more affordable seasonal vegetables, are full of flavor and free of preservatives. Try a versatile minestrone soup – legumes provide lots of protein and it’s very cheap to make. For the recipe, Click here.
Savory flapjack is an ever-popular recipe – perfect with soups or salad, it costs pennies to make and you can add all the flavors you love the most, from herbs to chili. Click here to try it.
Prepare extra rice or quinoa for dinner the night before, let cool and refrigerate, then add extra salad greens, chunks of feta cheese, olives, nuts or fruit and dressing for a filling salad to go – try this fennel, tomato, olive and orange salad for inspiration: Click here for the recipe.