It’s less than a month until the holidays, the John Lewis Christmas advert (and sub- sequent hype) has hit our TV screens and Facebook feeds, the Starbucks red cups are back and you may or may not have bought yourself this year’s Advent calendar. Christmas is coming… but so is end-of-term skint season. With presents to buy and a packed social calendar to enjoy, many of us are look- ing to save a little cash for more exciting things than a shop-bought sandwich. If you’re prone to buying lunch on campus between lectures, meal prepping could save you the equivalent of a night out in one week! (Liver strength de- pending). Not convinced? Read on for a few ideas you could try over the next few weeks:
The best investment you will make as a student, besides your degree itself, is buying a flask. Not only can you use one for hot beverages, but flasks can keep soups, porridge and pasta dishes warm throughout the morning (and keeps chilled foods cold!). If the idea of a sandwich or salad that’s as cold as your essay-worn fingers doesn’t appeal, get yourself a flask and experiment with whatever takes your fancy. Microwave or heat your lunch on the hob before transferring it to your flask and seal fully; it is that simple. The plus side of making a soup is that you can chuck in whatever vegetables are sitting around in your fridge as well as store cupboard staples such as pasta, beans and lentils – ideal when you’ve not had chance to go food shopping.
Chickpeas and love
Houmous, an Exetah student staple, is widely available in various forms, from reduced fat versions to sweet chilli and pesto-topped varieties. It’s versatile and protein-packed, making it a great component to incorporate into your packed lunch. There’s no need to take a whole tub; plastic shot glasses are the perfect portion size to pop in your Tupperware (if you don’t have Tupperware, you can wash and reuse takeaway food containers) along with pitta slices, tortilla chips, vegetable crudites and whatever else takes your fancy.
Tart me up
Ready-to-roll puff pastry is a seriously underrated commodity. Whilst it should be consumed in moderation due to its high butter content, there’s no reason why you can’t use it in your lunch from time to time. Try making a puff-pastry tart by cutting out a hand-sized rectangle of pastry and choose a few toppings before popping into the oven (following the instructions on the packaging) for a meal that’s tasty hot or cold. For a Mediterranean flavour, try spreading with pesto and topping with cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta and basil. If something festive is more up your street, spread with cranberry sauce and top with brie and cooked chicken, turkey or bacon.
That’s a wrap
Wraps and sandwiches are the first things most people think of when they picture a packed lunch. They’re easy to make and don’t require much thought. You can spice things up by choosing a different kind of bread – seeded, crusty, sour-dough, rye, pitta, even croissant, for example – and getting creative with your fillings. Perhaps marinate and cook chicken in peri peri and use the next day in a wrap with natural yoghurt or mayo and mixed peppers. You might try roasted Mediterranean veggies with houmous or halloumi in pitta bread, or go rustic with some of your favourite cheese and a blob of chutney or salad.
With the average meal deal costing upwards of £3, there are serious savings to be made in going DIY on lunch. Who knows, you might even discover a hidden culinary talent.