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Your favourite low calorie packed lunches (cold as no heating facilities)

(25 Posts)
RockingMyFiftiesNot Sun 06-Jan-19 09:51:53

I need to avoid canteen lunches as they are highly calorific with no healthy options. I often take salads, including pasta, potato and rice salads. I prefer to avoid sandwiches as I eat them a lot when I travel but open to new ideas.
We can't reheat stuff at work. What are your favourite low-calorie lunches?

OP’s posts: |
Bubba1234 Sun 06-Jan-19 09:58:23

Homemade quiche
You change up the fillings so it’s like a diff meal each time
Eg salmon then ham and cheese
Veggie stir fry though I’m not sure how nice it would be cold
Check the laws in your country as far as I know workplace should provide a microwave to be able to heat lunch. Or mention to boss

MagentaRocks Sun 06-Jan-19 10:01:34

Salad, frittata, wraps.

LordProfFekkoThePenguinPhD Sun 06-Jan-19 10:03:39

Laws to provide a microwave? Where??

RockingMyFiftiesNot Sun 06-Jan-19 10:26:55

Thank you. There is a microwave but it's only available to people working out of hours ie when the canteen is closed. I work for a large organisation and most locations don't have microwaves available where there is a canteen. Makes me doubt that there is a law as company pretty hit on that stuff - but if you can link me to it I can use that as ammunition to be able to use the microwave during canteen hours which would open up so many more lunch options! Thanks

OP’s posts: |
BikeRunSki Sun 06-Jan-19 11:06:40

Thermos of soup
If you get a wide neck thermos, then all sorts of other options of up - stew, rissotto, chunky soup, warm pasta, jacket spud and beans.

RockingMyFiftiesNot Sun 06-Jan-19 11:15:48

Yes I was going to buy a wide necked thermos a while ago then there was a thread on here which suggested none of them kept food warm as long as they said. Would welcome recommendations for those tried and tested and keep food hot for at least 4-5 hours,

OP’s posts: |
JennyHolzersGhost Sun 06-Jan-19 11:18:44

Yes a wide necked thermos will make it possible for you to take all sorts of food in ! Even curry/stew.

The best tip for making sure they perform well is to fill it with boiling water before you put your soup/stew/whatever in, and leave it for a few minutes to heat through. Then pour the water away and refill with your hot food. That means you get max heating into the thermos beforehand so the heat isn’t lost from the food.

BikeRunSki Sun 06-Jan-19 11:46:08

I have an old Stanley wide neck flask I git from Aldi when DS was a baby - he’s 10 now!

My colleague uses one of these Alladin bento box. It’s big enough for a baked potato.

BikeRunSki Sun 06-Jan-19 11:49:40

YY to warning them up first!

RockingMyFiftiesNot Sun 06-Jan-19 12:01:45

Yes would always warm any kind of flask first. Was put off by a thread on here a while back but sounds like you're saying they are ok

OP’s posts: |
gingercat02 Sun 06-Jan-19 12:02:12

Chilly food pots say they keep food boiling hot for up to 4 hours. I don't have one but their bottles are fab

JennyHolzersGhost Sun 06-Jan-19 12:10:04

I have the Thermos brand of wide mouthed flask and yes it’s fine for four hours and more if well warmed before use.

RavenLG Sun 06-Jan-19 12:24:29

I got a wide flask from Aldi maybe 2 years ago, was less than £10 and keeps food warm for at least 5/6hrs. Heated up in the morning around 730 and I usually have lunch at 230 and it's been fine.

Ricekrispie22 Sun 06-Jan-19 12:25:16

Prawn noodle salad
Lentil salad
Rice cakes and a little tub of fat free cream cheese to spread on them
Frittata muffins
Veg sticks, bread sticks and dip
Falafel burgers
Courgette slice
Couscous salad
Lentil slice

LordProfFekkoThePenguinPhD Sun 06-Jan-19 14:05:49

Sainsbury has a sale on fat thermos flasks - £13 vutbysually £20. They are really good.

onlyhereforthefood Sun 06-Jan-19 17:22:22

Another vote for thermos food flask, £20 outlay but I've saved so much on lunches since. I take leftover chilli/soups/stews- make sure it's piping hot when you put it in, and fill flask with boiling water for 10 mins first. I make mine at 7am and still steaming at 1pm.

LordProfFekkoThePenguinPhD Sun 06-Jan-19 18:35:42

Get thee to Sainsbury’s!

kateandme Sun 06-Jan-19 19:06:58

pearl barley salad
roasted veg couscous

RockingMyFiftiesNot Sun 06-Jan-19 21:19:44

Thank you . I will get a flask! I don't need ideas for hot flask lunches as that's a lot easier. , but please keep the cold suggestions coming fir variety. Looking forward to trying those lovely ideas suggested already thanks.

OP’s posts: |
maxelly Mon 07-Jan-19 13:55:21

At the start of the week I often make up a batch of what my family call my 'weird' salad (weird because it doesn't ever contain lettuce/salad leaves or really resemble a traditional British salad).... it's a bit improvised and doesn't always work but you can make a huge batch for very few calories (I calorie counted this week's and it came to 395 cals for a huge plate)...

I start with roasting whatever vegetables we have around from our veg box or leftover from other recipes. Mediterreanean veg (tomatos, peppers, aubergines, courgette) work really well, but you can do pretty much anything, this week I have broccoli and cauliflower from the veg box which are nice chopped into florets and roasted, or squash or kale work too. Roast onion is a must for me!

Then I add some protein, usually canned lentils, beans or chickpeas but if you eat meat you could have cold roast chicken or ham.

Then some complex carb, I like quinoa or bulgar wheat but sometimes throw some sweet potato cubes in with the veg. You could also do couscous, pearl barley or ready made pouches of wholegrains?

Finally I dress it with a small amount of strong cheese (feta is my favourite but goats cheese would be good too, anything that adds plenty of flavour relative to the amount you include) - about 20g per portion is plenty, a small amount of extra virgin olive oil (half a tablespoon per portion), sometimes some chopped fresh herbs, lots of lemon juice/vinegar and I sometimes add a little chopped apple or pear too which gives it some crunch/freshness. If we have any olives or jarred peppers or sundried tomatos those are nice too!

Basically a bit of a melange but 9 times out of 10 tastes good, feels generous/filling yet healthy and is made from veg we already have and store-cupboard ingredients so good for the pocket too!

RockingMyFiftiesNot Mon 07-Jan-19 14:51:22

That's a great idea, thank you

OP’s posts: |
Bloomcounty Mon 07-Jan-19 14:57:59

I used to do pretty much what Maxelly does, and never got bored as it changes every single time.

I'm also a big fan of the fritatta and will happily eat it cold for lunch. I stuff mine full of veggies so it's very filling. One normal frying pan sized portion (6 eggs) would do me at least four meals, or six, if I served it with a bowl of salad as above.

I also make homemade veggie samosas - I bake them in the oven so they're fairly low calorie. Spanakoppita is also good cold, and one swiss roll sized tin version works out at six portions with salad.

Do you have access to a kettle? Hugh F-W did a homemade pot noodle type dish that you just add boiling water to for lunches on one of his shows. I think he used rice noodle so they cooked quickly, and just had the veggies etc chopped small. That would be good for your thermos, as you could keep the "need to keep cold" ingredients cool until you pour over the water.

RockingMyFiftiesNot Mon 07-Jan-19 18:26:33

Thank you, more great ideas. I don't have access to a kettle, not sure if the hot water from the vending machine will be hot enough but could give it a go.

OP’s posts: |
kateandme Mon 07-Jan-19 18:48:52

butternut squash red onion roasted.with pine nuts with a tahini lemon juice dressing and sprinkled zaa'taar fab
farro dish.
•3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil PLUS 1/2 cup for the dressing
•1/2 cup diced onion
•1 tablespoon thyme leaves (optional)
•2 cups farro (rinsed)
•2 bunches flat-leaf parsley
•1 cup mint leaves or basil leaves (optional)
•1 clove garlic
•1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.In a large saucepan, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil until hot and add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook on medium heat until the onion is translucent, then add your farro (if you rinse it first, make sure to shake off all the liquid).
2.Toast the farro in the hot oil for a minute, stirring all the while, and then add 10 cups of water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the farro is tender and just cooked through. Strain the farro and transfer to a baking sheet to cool.
3.To make the dressing, place the parsley, mint or basil (optional), garlic, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, some black pepper, and 1/4 cup olive oil in a blender. Start to blend on low, then quickly turn up to high, and pour in the rest of the oil. Taste for balance and seasoning (I found mine needed more acid and salt).
4.To finish, scoop the cooled farro into a large bowl and dress with the parsley dressing, stirring well to distribute. Now you can add your favorite spring or summer vegetables. Let your imagination run wild! Well, not too wild.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

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