Advice

The Packed Lunches Guide

Cheap and cheerful

Apart from sandwiches clearly being superior to any other form of meal in the entire world, they can help you save money. Instead of that £20 coffee shop panini, why not go for a healthier, cheaper and sometimes tastier option that you can make yourself at home? I know it can be tedious to do it on your own without having it pre-made in front of you, but it can really be worth it in the long run.

So where do you start? What type of meal do you actually want to make? You’ve got a few options. Let’s start with the basics: pasta or rice. It’s potentially expensive to be forking out on chicken and the like to fill up that lunchbox, but by being clever with meals like this, you can keep yourself full on a budget:

Mix a tin of tuna, sweetcorn, pasta, a bit of low-fat mayonnaise and throw a bit of pepper or herbs on top. Bish bash bosh.

Or there’s rice:

Take a chicken breast, chop it up, stir in some brown rice and a bit of tomato pasta sauce. You’ve got your protein, and your blood-sugar levelling carbohydrates and you should be full for a while. Bone apple teeth.

Then we move onto sandwiches. Where possible, try not to use white bread. Often it has been bleached and stripped of its nutrients, making it as healthy as nibbling on a piece of cardboard, if not worse. Try to stick with brown bread, but make sure it’s not just been dyed brown with chemicals, and is genuinely loaded with the fibre and healthy stuff you need. If you can stomach it, rye bread is particularly good for managing blood sugar levels, and helping you stay on top of your weight, also keeping you full for a while.

What about fillings? It depends on whether you want to be healthy or not. If not, the options are endless. If you do want to be healthy, I’d suggest something along these lines:

Low fat hummus, chopped cherry tomatoes, spinach/ lettuce, cucumber and ham. It tastes good and it does good for your waistline.

If that sounds a little bit nightmarish, there’s scope for playing about with it. If you need a lot of food to stop you snacking like me, try to aim for protein-rich fillings to stop those cravings. Chicken is fairly cheap, as is turkey, particularly from supermarkets like Lidl.

Surprisingly, numerous studies have revealed that the enemy to a healthy lunch isn’t the actual calorie content, but more the fat content. mayonnaise is deadly for this. Egg or tuna mayo can be great for protein, but if you aren’t careful it can really be costly.

Try to find ways around this. Maybe try pesto and the like as a base (or hummus). Whatever you decide, make sure you fill up on greens. Besides the health benefits, the water content in cucumber and other similar foods can help you keep fuller for longer, and keep you hydrated.

Try this recipe on for size:

Take a wholemeal wrap, a bit of tzatziki (sort of like yoghurt), cucumber, and chicken (packeted is ok), and maybe try warming it up in the microwave.

It’s pretty healthy, not very expensive to make, and it tastes good. What more can you want?

Making lunches is much easier than you think. It can seem like the last thing you feel like doing in the morning while you’re dreading that 9 am, but it can do you good to have a supply of food on demand to help you get through those heavy days at uni, and not feel guilty about eating poorly or spending money.

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