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I find cooking really relaxing. In fact, I’m rarely happier than when I’m in the kitchen cooking for friends. But what I love is the fun social event that results from my hard work (and hopefully a compliment or two). I just don’t get the same satisfaction from cooking as ‘meal prep’. I find it boring.
I have a strict Friday-only rule when it comes to buying lunch so most other days I end up with the same fairly dull homemade sandwich or underwhelming salad. I enjoy leftovers from homecooked meals, but my busy work and social schedule means I’m not necessarily in for dinner every evening, and I’m definitely not in the mood to make a complicated from-scratch meal for the next day.
What I want to find are exciting and varied but quick and easy lunches I can prepare at home and mix up during the week. So I’ve challenged myself to find new lunch recipes each week. I already use Pinterest to save recipes I find around the internet, but often they’re complicated dinner recipes I won’t try until I’m having a dinner party. So I created a new board for my lunch recipes, researching on Pinterest itself. I love that when I started typing ‘lunch box’ it gave me suggestions like ‘lunch box ideas for adults’ to get me started.
Pinterest gave me so many really simple ideas of things I’d never thought of, like using blackberries and blueberries in salads. Once I’d saved a few things I liked the look of, my Pinterest home page was full of new ideas – it didn’t take long for my board to fill up. Two recipes that immediately appealed were noodle pots and frittatas with quinoa and feta salads.
The noodles had the feel of being an after dinner leftover, but you can make a huge batch ahead of time and store it in pre-prepared jars (which also look pretty cool). Frittatas take literally minutes to cook, and the quinoa salads were easy to make a batch and add in fresh bits each morning.
Both had loads of saves and likes on Pinterest, and the delicious-looking pictures made me really keen to try them, so I set aside some time on Sunday for lunch prep. Both recipes have a few ingredients but I had most in the fridge already, and a quick dash to the shop took care of the rest.
I got a few batches of noodles ready and mixed up my quinoa before frying my fritatta. Then I keep them in the fridge, ready to eat or assemble at work, saving loads of time during the week. I chose recipes that weren’t too complicated so I could multi-task, preparing quinoa while chopping vegetables to put into my salad pots. Both were so tasty – much more so than I was expecting. I’ve got such a low expectation for homemade lunch that I didn’t realise quite how far a little effort would go. I smugly looked at colleagues leaving the office and coming back £6 lighter with a lunch than in no way outdid mine in the taste or presentation departments.
As well as new recipes, I found a lot of fun infographics - like the formula for the perfect salad
Learning new things
As well as new recipes, I found a lot of fun infographics on Pinterest, like the formula for the perfect salad – turns out mine were so boring because I should be adding different textures of food (mixing crunchy vegetables with ‘soft’ foods makes it a lot more fun to eat) – and even some inspiration for obvious lunches, like great sandwiches. I’d never really thought of sandwiches being exciting before, their only appeal previously having been how cheap and easy they are to prepare.
I also found myself planning ahead for soups to make for winter, as I’m always in the mood for a hot meal when it’s cold outside – that’s when I find myself breaking my own rule and heading out most days to buy lunch at one of the cafes near my office. Pinterest has really transformed my lunch habits, and I’m constantly discovering new ideas to try. I must admit, I’m feeling pretty confident I won’t be tucking back into my old boring midday meals anytime soon.