With the start of the new year comes, for many, the return back to work. And, with that, in turn, comes the chance to develop new habits that work to increase our productivity – one of them being meal prepping. Having a homemade meal ready at lunch can not only help you keep a structured day, boosting your work output, but help you to eat healthier and save money.
And if the idea of a homemade lunch doesn’t sound appealing to you, know that they don’t necessarily have to be boring, says Calfas. “Forget the days of plain ham and cheese sandwiches, and look outside the bento box,” she says.
“The rule when it comes to meal prep and lunch is that, honestly, there are no rules. Lunch is literally what you make it, and the best thing to do is to plan ahead and know what your week is like so you can prepare accordingly for it.
“There is no point bringing in some of last night’s lamb roast if you are going to be in meetings all day and have no access to a microwave or cutlery. Meal prep gets easier the more you do it and remember the only person you have to please is yourself, so don’t overthink it.”
Ahead, Calfas shares four of her favourite things to make for a delicious, yet healthy and affordable homemade lunch.
Green Chicken Curry
“One of the easiest ways to meal prep is to plan your meals ahead for the week and ensure when you’re cooking that you always double your quantities. If you’re making yourself an awesome green chicken curry for dinner, make sure you cook enough to at least have another serve the next day for lunch.
“Roasting a chicken is a great way to get several lunches out of it and it doesn’t always have to be the same thing. The versatility of a roast chook is often underestimated. Certainly, you can shred it up and serve it on a fresh sourdough roll with some provolone, rocket, fresh tomato and basil, but you can also add it to some shredded cabbage with mint, fish sauce, sesame seeds, red onion, shredded cabbage and topped with some coriander for an Asian-inspired lunch.”
Chickpeas with Cucumber and Tomato
“One of my absolute fave lunches to prep is chickpeas with cucumber and tomato. I throw in some smoked sea salt, cumin and paprika, throw a bit of chilli, some coriander and mint in there are well, and I have a super-fast and super easy, high protein lunch.
“You can make the easiest of salad dressings by mixing extra virgin olive oil with some balsamic vinegar, crushed garlic, mustard of your choice (wholegrain and Dijon add a wonderful flavour) along with some lemon juice and shake it all together. Some days I will add a little splash of this to my chickpeas just to mix it up a bit.”
“One of the easiest meals that I prep for my kids is pesto pasta. it takes literally no time to cook some pasta, and then stir through a pesto sauce. While it’s warm put it into a thermos so it stays nice and warm, and I’ll often add an extra small container with some fresh Parmesan in it.
“It’s fast and easy, and it tastes delicious. Likewise, the nights that I make butter chicken, I will double the quantity of both the butter chicken and the rice, warm it up and serve the next day.”
Mini Antipasto Box
“Making a mini antipasto box is great for those days when you want something that’s no muss, no fuss. Olives, cheese (or cheeses if you’re like me!) of your choice, a small tub of hummus or beetroot dip, some carrot and celery sticks (these can be cut and prepped in advance, then just grab what you need), and a handful of Brazilian nuts to hit your daily selenium requirements and you have a healthy, nutritious meal that you can graze on as you have your meetings or work to hit your deadline.”