Welcome to the TWC Lunch Box Club. We believe that no one should have to spend seven pounds in Pret because of a lack of lunchbox inspiration.
We've decided to make your life easier (and cheaper) with a practical guide on how to get the most out of healthy ingredients, quickly and easily. You'll soon have a lunchbox to make everyone in the office jealous, even if it is a little shaken up after your commute.
Chicken is one of the most glorious, versatile meats available. All too often demoted to dinosaur shapes and 3am beer-fuelled takeouts – chicken has had a hard time of it. But now it's time to reclaim it for your delicious lunchbox. Here’s how.
Sunday Night Prep
Firstly, you’ll need one large chicken. Cut off the drumsticks and put them in the freezer - you’ll cook them later in the week. Stuff the chicken with 2 lemons (halved), 2 red onions, a few sprigs of rosemary and practically a whole bulb of garlic, then drench the skin in olive oil and half a can of beer. Cook at 190C for 1hr 45mins. Carve it up and make a broth by simmering the bones, lemons, rosemary and garlic in hot water for 2 hours, then discard the bones and put the broth in the fridge for later in the week.
Now here’s how to have some fun with that big bird, in 20 minutes or under. Make these the night before and enjoy 'al desko', while colleagues give you evil eyes as they dart out in the rain to grab a sandwich.
Monday: Quinoa party mix
Put on about ½ cup of quinoa to boil in vegetable or chicken stock (quinoa is nothing without stock). Chop carrots, parsnips, butternut squash and red onions and put on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and salt, then roast for 20mins at 200C. When it’s done, put in a bowl with the cooked quinoa and some chopped chicken breast. Throw in some pomegranate seeds and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Tuesday: Chicken, avocado and potato salad
If you’re making this the night before, you’ll want to keep the dressing in a small tupperware or jar and add when you eat. If you’re making it in the morning, it should stay crunchy until lunchtime as long as you use a robust lettuce like romaine.
Put on some baby new potatoes to boil in a pan of water. In a large bowl, mix a dash of olive oil, a generous slosh of apple cider vinegar, a forkful of Dijon mustard, crushed garlic, juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper. Set aside. Top and tail a handful of green beans. Halve, then add to the boiling potatoes. Chop chicken, cucumber, avocado and lettuce and add to the dressing with a generous sprinkle of pumpkin seeds. When the potatoes and green beans are done, chop the potatoes into slices and add both to the salad, tossing generously to mix.
Wednesday: Thai green chicken curry
Put half a can of coconut milk in a pan and add about half a cup of rice, cover and boil. Pour the rest of the milk into another pan on medium heat and stir in green curry paste (the quantity depends on how spicy you like it), green beans, half a courgette and chopped onion. Once the green beans are cooked, add shredded chicken and stir. Once the rice is cooked, add desiccated coconut. Add the rice to your lunchbox, then sit the chicken on top.
Thursday: Chicken noodle soup
Take out your chicken drumsticks from the freezer this morning - you’ll need them tonight to cook tomorrow’s lunch.
Put your pre-made broth on to heat up. Add some seasoning if you like - tamarind paste is delicious, as is smoked paprika, ginger, or turmeric. Equally, the broth by itself is pretty great. Add vegetables - anything works, but sugar snap peas, beansprouts, edamame and thinly sliced carrots are good. Shred chicken and add. Once it’s all heated up, add in your favourite noodles and stir until they’re cooked through.
Friday: The Big Wrap
Fridays need comfort food and come Thursday night you’re exhausted, so this 10-minute wonder hits the spot perfectly.
Get yourself some tortilla wraps and lay down some lettuce (thinly sliced iceberg is best). Top with thinly sliced peppers, chicken, and mashed avocado. Drizzle with a dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and salt. Wrap up tight and wrap with foil to secure. Put in your lunchbox with crudites, crisps, crackers, or anything else that you can think of beginning with the letter C.
Like this? Try some of our other recipes!