I’m always bad for buying lunch in the cafeteria because homemade lunches seem too boring or unappealing, but that can really end up being way too expensive. On a student budget lunches that cost £5 each time are just completely unfeasible.
So how did I fix this? Make a lunch that’s appealing and cost-effective? Simple. Put it in a jar and involve lots of pretty colours (I swear my inner child just wants to burst free right now). I bought a few jars for only about £2 each and then created three simple meals.
1. Pasta with spinach, tomato and cheese
I’ve always loved the pre-made pasta salads you can buy at supermarkets, with my favourite being a co-op salad made with spinach, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil. Now, since my convert to a more vegetarian lifestyle, parmesan is now a no-no, and since being a student, pine nuts are just impossible!! The government for sure isn’t giving me enough to fund my pine nut addiction.
So instead I decided to make do with a) what I could afford and b) what would actually be healthy. I cooked pasta and in the last few minutes addedchopped spinach. I drained it and cooled it before mixing it with a small handful of grated cheese and some chopped tomatoes, just for added veg goodness. If I had wanted to be a bit cheeky then i’d add some olive oil but I’m trying to stay as healthy as possible at lunch (so I can gorge on unhealthy food for dinner of course 😉 ). Then I popped the mix into a jar and sealed the lid. I probably wouldn’t leave it for over 3 days in the fridge otherwise it won’t be as nice – I in fact made it the day before I ate it.
2. Thai Curry Ramen
So I found the idea for this somewhere on the internet too long ago to give you a link, but I just remembered about it when planning meals. It is a premade ramen noodle pot that you just add boiling water to, just like a pot noodle, but much, much healthier.
I popped a couple of tablespoons full of thai red curry paste into the bottom of the jar, followed by a portion of cooked broccoli, noodles and prawns. Then I added as some final touches some cubed tofu, sliced carrot, chile and coriander. I freeze my coriander so that I can keep it for a long time.
Then when it came to eating, I just filled it
up with boiling water and mixed. This was probably the most difficult part of the meal, because I’d accidentally overfilled the jar! I just had to eat the top ingredients first then be able to mix. This one would also probably last 3 days in the fridge.
3. Throw-in-Whatever Ramen
With this one I had a much bigger jar so it had a lot more space for mixing. In the bottom I added crumbled veg stock cube and a dash of soy sauce. Then I added fried aubergine, cooked noodles, lettuce, tofu, sliced carrot and then to finish, a boiled egg cut in half.
This was my favourite, as the soy sauce ga
ve a nice umami sort of flavour. Plus the aubergine soaked up some of that lovely soy and tasted so good. Aubergine, when cooked right is so good! I always recommend salting it before cooking, just to bring away the bitter taste.
Overall the whole meal prep took about 30 minutes, so these were so quick and easy to make and I will definitely be repeating again next week!