There are times I wonder about the speed – or lack thereof – with which ideas actually take root in my brain.
The paucity of the lunch situation where I work has been mentioned more than once on this blog, along with my efforts to improve the situation by bringing in lunch.
But those efforts are erratic. And that’s largely because I get myself fenced in to a lack of variety – doing the same thing over and over again – and then don’t make a habit of prepping something quick and easy the night before.
The other week, I bought Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s latest book, River Cottage Everyday, precisely because it promised a chapter on lunches – including the packed variety.
So far, I haven’t actually prepared any of the specific ideas that he mentions, but it made me think the really rather obvious: ‘this doesn’t have to be difficult’.
Leftovers are a good starting point. After roasting a chicken on Sunday, I popped some meat into a tub yesterday morning, added a few olives, stuffed with garlic, quickly chopped a couple of sticks of celery and chucked in some sultanas. Then dressed it with a little plain yogurt, thinned with cider vinegar.
I made today’s lunch last night – a sliced apple, some walnut halves, more sultanas and celery, plus olives stuffed with anchovies, and then the same sort of dressing.
It can’t have taken even 10 minutes, and it works out as healthy, tasty – and far cheaper than anything I could buy near the office.
And there are so many other ingredients that would be just as easy to combine: cheese and pulses spring to mind for starters. The latter is one area where I go for convenience – life is too short to have to soak and boil beans for hours, as I found when I had a macrobiotic phase more than a decade ago.
Adapting one of Hugh’s recipes, I’ll get some little German Nürnberger grilling sausages when I can and cook them in advance. Then, chopped a little, they can go in a pot with some new potatoes, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a dressing of mustard and yogurt for a slightly more substantial lunch.
I make no promises on keeping up this trend (been there before and not carried on), but when it’s this easy, you wonder why you haven’t made the effort consistently before.