Cheap + Chic Food + Drink Recipes Vegan Vegetarian

Five Minute Packed Lunches

October 3, 2016
Puttanesca Panzanella salad from

Previous posts may have alerted you to the fact that I am a profligate woman and in no way in control of my personal finances, and am also pretty terrible at getting up in time to get to work. This means that I am regularly (daily) running hilariously late, and am once more destitute, so here are a few of my go-to ‘scheisse I was meant to be at work half an hour ago and I one hundred percent can’t afford to go to itsu. Again.’ lunches. None of them take more than about 5 minutes to assemble, and make a fine and hearty lunch for your good self.

Note: these are all salads. It’s just the quickest thing to make that isn’t a sandwich, and is easily transportable to work, and to the PARK if it’s sunny. I find that by far the easiest way to transport a salad for lunch is to make sure you’ve always got a selection of small jam jars to hand to take your dressing in. The jars from Lidl’s capers are particularly good for this, and also the plastic pots that you get mint sauce in with your curry. You should probably never throw away jam jars because it’s WASTEFUL and they are really useful for transporting things like soup to work without worrying about it leaking, they are great for making impromptu pickles, and if you ever make jam or marmalade you’ll need to have some jars. They are also ESSENTIAL for making salad dressing. It’s really hard to properly emulsify a dressing without a jam jar to shake it in and it’s also way more fun than whisking it like buggery only for it to separate again seconds later.


  • 2 Large tomatoes, sliced
  • Handful cherry tomatoes (different colours are good if you have them) halved
  • 2 tbsp black, or ideally kalamata, olives
  • 1 tbsp capers & a bit of their brine
  • 2 anchovy fillets (leave out, or swap for sun-dried toms for a vegan lunch)
  • ½ small shallot, v finely sliced (if you can be bothered – fine to leave out)
  • A few slices of pickled chilli
  • A few basil leaves
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • A splash of red wine vinegar
  • Little pinch of sugar
  • Crusty bread to serve

This is one of my favourite favourite things to eat. I love all the salty things – olives, capers & anchovies – and the combo with fresh tomatoes is just a delight. I could eat just tomatoes and bread for every meal of every day. If you’ve got some good tomatoes it is just heaven – so fresh and delicious. Anyway: chop up the tomatoes into rough chunks – I like a variety of sizes for a bit of texture – and combine with everything else in a tupperware. Eat with some good crusty bread to mop up all the juices.


  • 1 courgette, grated
  • 1 handful rocket, finely chopped
  • A good crumbling of feta, or some chunks of mozzarella
  • A tbsp mixed seeds, any will do. Poppy seeds and pine nuts are nice
  • 1 tbsp pesto
  • 3 or 4 radishes, chopped or grated *pls don’t grate your fingers*
  • A few basil leaves, if you have some around
  • 1 crusty roll – buy this at lunchtime if you haven’t got one. They usually cost about 30p, and it gets you out of the office which is A GOOD THING.

Grate the courgette and radishes into a ziploc bag. Add a few pinches of salt, and shake well. Combine everything else except the roll in a tupperware with a whack of salt and pepper. Come lunchtime, simply cut a corner off the ziploc to drain the courgette. Give it a good squeeze, too, while you’re at it. Mix it into the tupperware with everything else, buy a crusty roll, pile the salad into said crusty roll, and eat. Also good on some toasted rye bread. The scritchy german kind. Nutritious and delicious.

Morroccan Carrot Salad with houmous by


  • 2 largeish carrots, grated (peeling not necessary if they’re clean)
  • 1 tbsp sultanas, or dried cranberries if you have them
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley (I always chop coriander & parsley up stems & all as it’s quicker and there’s probably more fibre in them, right?)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp each ground cumin & coriander
  • Couple pinches ground cinnamon
  • Plenty of salt and pepper

Combine all the above in a tupperware and top with a little feta and some nigella seeds if you like. Very good with a toasted pitta bread and any hummus you might have lying around.


  • Large handful spinach leaves, washed (or other salad – rocket is nice)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 bulb of fennel, shaved into strips or grated
  • 1 tin of mackerel packed in oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley/dill
  • ½ teaspoon grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp white wine vinegar

Add the spinach, fennel and drained mackerel to a tupperware. Don’t be tempted to drain mackerel fillets in the sink at work – no one will thank you for it. You want a little bit of the oil still left on the mackerel. Top with the chopped herbs, and a good helping of freshly ground black pepper. Make your dressing in a small jar and take to work, with the unpeeled orange. At lunchtime, peel the orange and loosely add about half of the segments and a good squeeze of juice to the salad, dress well and eat. Any leftover orange is for pudding.

White bean and avocado salad by


Makes enough for two days (or two people)

  • 1 tin of white beans – cannellini or butter beans work well
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (swap these for sun-dried tomatoes if you’re a better vegetarian than me)
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • A large handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • A few basil leaves, or a bit of chopped parsley – whichever you’ve got
  • 1 little gem lettuce

Drain and rinse the beans. Chop up the avocado (I usually do this in the skin and then scoop out the chunks with a spoon), halve the tomatoes. Add the beans, avo, tomatoes, lemon, olive oil and basil to a bowl with the anchovies. Mix well. Separate into two tupperwares, take one to work with half of a little gem lettuce. At lunchtime, tear up the lettuce and mix it into the salad.

Beetroot feta walnut mint salad from, MINT, BEETROOT & WALNUT SALAD

  • Large handful washed spinach leaves
  • 1-2 vac-packed beetroot
  • A small handful walnut halves
  • 3 large sprigs of mint
  • ⅕ block of feta
  • ½ tsp grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Chop up the salad ingredients and put directly into a tupperware. Add all of the dressing ingredients + salt & pepper to a jam jar. Combine at lunchtime so your leaves don’t get sad.

Five minute packed lunches – how do you do yours?


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  • Reply Edel Kelly October 3, 2016 at 11:59 am

    This is a super helpful post & a very tasty alternative to daily sandwiches. (And just what me & my bloated belly I have been wanting to come across. Nice work ladies!

  • Reply Kateb October 3, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Hi inside + out, great 5 minute lunches. I am particularly lazy and get fed up with same old, same old every day. Love the ‘cutting the corner off’ trick and also great idea for cutting avocados! How can I make sure that my avocado doesn’t go black if I make that salad to last two days?

    • Reply Cecily Maude October 17, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Hi Kate! Glad you like it 🙂
      I find that if you’ve dressed the avocado well enough, it shouldn’t go too black. It only goes really miserable if it’s left open to the air and not covered in anything…

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