Cooking three meals a day can be a real time drain, especially during the week. You have work, family, hobbies, friends and a whole lot of other commitments, and the last thing you want to be doing is cooking and cleaning three times every day. One way to save time cooking and cleaning is to take your recipes for dinner and adapt them slightly so that you can eat them for lunch too. Here are our top tips for making dinner into lunch:
Cook In Bulk
You’re probably used to only cooking enough for you and your family to eat at that one meal. Generally, buying food in bulk is cheaper, and cooking it in bulk saves you time and money. You’re already chopping, washing and cooking anyway, so to do it with double or triple the ingredients takes less time than if you were to cook that same meal three nights in a row.
There are two ways to go about cooking in bulk. The first is to choose one or two simple recipes that you love and cook enough for, say, three or four meals of each. Some can be eaten at dinner, the rest can be taken as lunch. If you want to, you can even freeze them to eat later in the week when you’re too lazy to make your sandwiches for work the night before!
The second option is to cook something like chicken or beef in bulk. Roast it, braise it or fry it, but keep the seasoning pretty simple and straightforward. You can then reuse the meat in loads of quick and easy recipes for lunch and dinner. For example, you can make roast chicken for dinner one night, and cook three. The next day you can make a chicken sandwich, then the following day you could make a chicken wrap or chicken salad. Any leftovers could go in a chicken pie for another dinner, and the remaining bones and leftover meat can be put to good use making stock or chicken soup.
If you plan meals in advance, it becomes easy to make two in one meals. Think of your menu for the week, building it around recipes for dinner, lunch and breakfast and only buy enough ingredients for that week.
Consider prepping all your vegetables, salads etc on a Sunday – or doing half the week on Sunday and half on Wednesday. This is easy if you already know what you’re eating for the rest of the week. The most effective way to do this is to decide to base your meals around certain veg and salads.
Chop up a variety of salad ingredients and store them in small containers, then each day you can use a different base and dressing. This way, you have loads of quick and easy recipes for dinner and lunch with minimal effort. One day you might choose cous cous with a balsamic dressing, the next could be a garden salad with a creamy dressing, and the next a pasta salad with honey mustard. All you have to do is choose your base and add a container of your ready-prepped salad ingredients. Make enough of your base for dinner and lunch the next day. Pasta can easily be made for your dinner in a pesto or tomato sauce. Just leave some aside and turn it into a salad for lunch.
Remember, you can always add a tin of tuna or a hard-boiled egg for extra protein to the leftovers. This has the added benefit of making it taste like a different meal!
The same principle goes for vegetables. Chop up and cook more than you need for dinner. A great way to do this is to roast enough vegetables for three days or so. You can eat some at dinner and because they retain their flavour and texture better than boiled or steamed veggies, they’re great reused at lunch. Find some simple recipes that use roasted vegetables – again, they go very well in salads, especially grain-based ones.