Ditch the soggy sarnies. January is the perfect time for a lunch box revolution
After all foodie indulgence of Christmas and New Year, a squashed Marmite sarnie in the bottom of your handbag is a particularly sad sight to behold. We think we all need to practise a little more self care on those first, long, slow back-to-work days, and there’s nothing like the knowledge that you have, stashed away, a delicious little something, made with care and attention, to cheer you at lunchtime.
When we put together our January issue, we all ooohed and aaahhed at the delicious ‘winter jewels’ bento recipe on p17 from Bento Power by Sara Kiyo Popowa (Kyle Books). It’s so quick to put together, happens to be super healthy, and is a sight for screen-sore eyes on a mizzly January day back in the office. Find the recipe on p17 of our January issue. (We suspect there might be some kind of The Simple Things bento-off in the offing, in fact… Competitive? Us?)
And it got us to thinking… how else can we make lunches more exciting? One easy way to zhush up a packed lunch simply is to invest in some lunchtime equipment to encourage you… chopsticks to cheer, tubs to tickle our fancy, sandwich wraps to surprise… Once you’ve invested in the raw materials, you feel spurred on to make some time on a Sunday evening to ensure your weekday lunchtimes are an event, not just a quick refuel.
Here are a few items that we’re going to be treating ourselves to this month in our bid to up our packed lunch game in 2019:
The Takenaka Two-tier Bento box takes lunch to a new level. Literally. It has two levels, you see? Obviously it’s great for bento: dollop in a little rice, some veg and a boiled egg or meat/fish, and top with some fancy extras like crunchy radishes and crispy fried onions (available in a tub at Waitrose ) and then add a little soy sauce or sweet chilli dressing. But you could just as easily use one tier for a nice salad, maybe a few cold potatoes, watercress and leftover salmon, and the other tier for a fresh fruit salad.
If you’re a fan of a good old-fashioned sandwich, don’t be ashamed, embrace it! But it’s easy to increase the fancy lunch factor with a homemade roll or two filled with some delicious deli items. Pickle yourself some cucumber and carrot strips on a Sunday and they’ll last a few days to add bite to any sandwich. Pop them in a crusty baguette with with beansprouts, a handful of salad and a few chillies and you have a Vietnamese-style banh mi roll. Or simply jazz up your sauces and add a little fresh tarragon to mayonnaise to give a leftover roast chicken sandwich a new lease of life. And any sandwich worth its (Himalayan rock) salt needs a fancy and reusable wrapping. We are big fans of BeeBee wraps - beautiful organic cotton beeswax sandwich wraps that make you feel just a little bit special (and ecofriendly, too) as you unwrap your lunch.
From £14, BeeBee.
If the January weather takes a turn for the baltic, never will you feel more smug than when you open a flask of steaming homemade soup, still warm. Make a batch on a weekend, heat your soup while you drink your tea in the morning on Monday, pour it into this lovely Orla Kiely food flask, and you will thank your past self a thousand times by 2pm. It has a wide mouth (don’t we all?) so you can eat directly from it with a decent-sized spoon.
£25, John Lewis.
Is it a fork? Is it a spoon? It is both. Every lunchbox needs one of these sporks. Super for soup, and very useful for anything more solid, too.
£3, Steamer Trading Cookshop.
(Steamer also does some rather fetching reusable chopsticks to go with your Bento box, too. We like the Typhoon Rookie Stix, £3.)
Now, go forth, and love your lunches!
More food-to-go inspiration…
More from the January issue…
RECIPE FROM BENTO POWER (KYLE BOOKS). RECIPE & PHOTOGRAPHY: SARA KIYO POPOWA