I spend a little bit of time most weekends sorting out our lunches for the week. The main reason being that it’s so much cheaper to make your own lunch.
I’ve heard some people justify buying lunch by saying they wouldn’t save anything by taking their own, but I’d be really surprised if that was true.
The cheapest lunch option (in my opinion) is soup. My split pea soup only costs me 12p per portion and even with reduced bread and sandwich meat you’d struggle to get sandwiches so cheap. I take lots of different soups in – normally I make one pot each weekend and freeze.
I also take a couple of slices of homemade brown bread (about 10p – even cheaper if you like white bread), a banana (12p) and an apple (35p)(sometimes I get plums, pears or grapes instead of the apple), At a cost of 68p a day or £160 a year. Compare this to the cafe near my work, where you’ll pay £4 for soup and a sandwich, which is £960 over the year. Of course sometimes I have more expensive soups, or sandwiches or salad, but you’re still saving money, even if you spend £1.50 on a really fancy packed lunch.
I cooked up another gammon joint for Dave’s sandwiches this week and kept the cooking liquid to use as the stock in a lentil soup for me – I was amazed as it was just ridiculously tasty and completely free stock. If you have any scraps of ham left, you can add them in to the soup as well, though I didn’t do this.
As a bonus, I’ve included the recipe for soft rolls I made at the weekend, which I used for the ham sandwiches but would also be lovely with the soup.
Lentil & ham soup (serves 7)
- 200g red lentils
- 4 carrots, peeled & chopped
- 3 small onions, peeled & chopped
- 4 potatoes, cut into small dice
- Bay leaf (optional)
- Ham stock, to cover
- 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
Gently heat the vegetable oil in a large pot. Add the carrots and onion and sweat off for a few minutes until the onion is soft.
Add all the other ingredients and simmer until everything is cooked (I think I left it for about an hour). Season to taste – the ham stock is salty so you may not need salt.
Soft bread rolls (makes 6)
- 200g strong brown flour
- 250g strong white flour
- 2 tsp easy blend yeast
- 3 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 100ml milk
- Around 2-300ml warm water
Weigh the flours in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast, sugar and salt and mix in.
Pour in the milk and mix with a wooden spoon, then start pouring in the warm water. Use the spoon to start with then change to your hands. When the dough mostly sticks in a ball (without being wet or sticky), tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for ten minutes.
Pop into a clean bowl and cover. Leave to rise, preferably in a warm spot, until doubled in size – usually 1-2 hours.
When the dough has doubled in size, remove from the bowl and gently knock out the excess air. Cut into six equal pieces and pull the top round and over each piece to make a ball with a smooth, stretched over top and a bunched up bottom. Flatten slightly an strange slightly spaced out on a baking tray. Leave to rest, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour, when doubled in size again.
Preheat the oven to 220C. Pour a little water into a baking dish and put this in the bottom of the oven. Put the rolls in above the water and bake for 15-20 minutes until the rolls are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Do you take your own lunch in to work, or do you prefer to buy it? Share your favourite lunch recipes in the comments!
PS I haven’t costed these recipes because I ran out of time, but I will try and come back to edit them tomorrow!