The lunch crunch
With food and petrol prices rising, utility bills rocketing, and salaries stagnating, many of us are feeling the pinch. With this in mind, we conducted a survey of over 2000 people to find out how the credit crunch has affected the way we lunch.
Time to get packing
Buying lunch every weekday from sandwich joints or canteens easily adds up - you're lucky if you get change from a fiver. Add a drink and a mid-afternoon snack, and your purse will be feeling distinctly light. Times that by five days a week, over the course of a year, and your sandwich becomes hard to swallow. Even more so if you read the ingredients list - often they're packed with salt and additives.
One of the most striking findings of our survey was the growing trend for taking packed lunches into work. 74% of those surveyed who work said they take their own lunches to work at least once a week. A third of them are taking their lunch in more regularly now than six months ago, and the majority (71%) of these people said the reason for this was the current economic climate. No wonder Sainsbury's is selling out of sandwich bags!
74% take their lunches to work at least once a week... and the majority say it's because of the economic climate.
So now it's en vogue to pack yourself a lunchbox while you're doing one for the kids, you'll need some inspiration to avoid the depressing prospect of soggy sandwiches and limp salads awaiting you as your stomach rumbles. That's where we come in - we've put together a collection of lunchbox recipes that are quick to prepare, healthy and relatively cheap - and most importantly, they're tasty and satisfying enough to avoid you dashing to the corner shop to buy crisps and cake afterwards.
Waste not, want not
It's not always easy to find the time to whip up a gourmet lunch, and in fact buying ingredients especially to make fancy salads can end up costing as much as a ready-made lunch would. Often the best idea is to make an extra portion of what you're having for dinner and save some in an airtight container for the next day - 24% of those we surveyed who take a packed lunch to work said that a main reason for doing so was to use up leftovers.
If you have a microwave at work, reheated soups, curries and stews work particularly well, and can even improve with being left for the flavours to mingle in the fridge overnight. Pasta, omelettes and frittatas are good hot or cold (try frittata sandwiches). Lovefoodhatewaste.com has some good ideas for 'rescue recipes' for ingredients that are past their prime, or have a look at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's formula for three meals from one chicken. Use the freezer to save wraps and pittas from going stale, or cook in bulk and freeze neat little portions. Then you can wake up with the smug feeling that lunch just needs to be grabbed from the freezer, thawed out on the journey to work and heated through in your lunch hour.