A mightier munch for lunch

Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing. Picture: PA Photo/Handout.
Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing. Picture: PA Photo/Handout.

Bored of over-priced and under-satisfying sarnies? These ladies are hoping to inspire a nation to make lunchtimes more special

Many workers simply grab a boring sandwich at lunchtime, or nip out for a pricey pastie.

But such dull dining does nothing for your health, or your wealth - a bog-standard sandwich, crisps and drink can be full of fat and salt, low on nutrients, and easily set you back around £30 a week.

But Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing insist that, with just a little preparation and effort, every lunch hour can be something to look forward to.

Making tasty and portable grub at home to take to work can be a lot healthier, cheaper and more appetising than buying a buttie from the high street, they promise. And the duo, both keen foodies who work in the publishing industry, have put together The Little Book Of Lunch to inspire people who are stuck in a boring lunch rut.

“There’s no denying that there are overall health and financial benefits to bringing your homemade packed lunch in to work,” says Craig.

“Lunch - especially while you’re at work, working - is one of life’s great pleasures, yet one that is easily overlooked. If you’ve bought a sorry eggy bap from the nearest sandwich shop, we’re not surprised that you want to inhale it, then pretend it never happened.

“But if you have lovingly put together your lunch, chances are you’re going to want to take some time to savour it.”

The book’s filled with simple, quick recipe ideas ranging from the exotic-sounding Faux Pho - a chicken noodle soup - to salads, dishes you’d be happy to eat for your evening meal (Thai fishcakes or aubergine and tomato gratin, anyone?), quiches, and traditional sandwiches, often with a twist to lift them from the realms of dullness.

The recipes can be made either the night before or in the morning before you set off, and they’re accompanied in the book by meal planners and even suggested shopping lists, to ensure the cupboards aren’t bare when you’re inspired to create your own out-of-the-ordinary packed lunch.

With some of the recipes, for example, the tomato pasta dish puttanesca, the idea is to make a big batch for dinner and set some aside for the following day.

Generally, however, the lunches involve a little preparation the night before, and a little more in the morning, plus assembly at lunchtime to avoid sogginess.

“When preparation time is split into manageable proportions like this, then making yourself a nice lunch doesn’t seem like such an extravagant task,” promises Missing.

And she stresses: “A homemade lunch doesn’t have to be a complicated affair; it can simply be some grated carrot and soft cheese on a couple of slices of rye bread, or a mini picnic of bread, cheese and pickles.”

The pair agree that people unaccustomed to creating packed lunches will need to get into new habits to make their lunch revolution a success, ensuring certain key ingredients are always on standby such as pitta, cucumber, mint, avocado.