As a university student, I often find myself trying to tighten my purse strings as, notoriously, being a student is expensive business. One of the most effective ways to save money is as easy as this: make a packed lunch for yourself.
The cost of buying lunch out, even if it’s just a meal deal, really adds up. Let’s say you buy lunch out every day you’re at university (36 weeks a year), and you opt for a sandwich and a drink. If you’re lucky that’s going to add up to £5 a go, which results in a whopping £1260 a year. A standard sandwich and drink is simply not deserving of that horrifying stat. You could go on holiday for that money.
The other great thing about taking in your own packed lunch is that you can be conscious about the food you’re putting in to your body. You can plan a personalised portion size, as well think about how much your meal is going to sustain you throughout your day. You want your meal to promote productivity and leave you feeling satisfied and satiated, rather than bloated and lethargic.
You can pack your Tupperware with slow releasing carbs (pasta, cous cous, rice, sweet potato etc.), protein (chicken, fish, chickpeas etc.) and fats (avocado, olive oil dressing, cheese etc.) to provide you with essential vitamins and minerals as well as hitting your macro goals.
In contrast, in many restaurants and cafes, the food options are loaded with saturated fat, sugar and salt. And it’s all too tempting when these unhealthy choices are staring in to your soul, trying to lure you in. Do you need that dairy milk snack?
Probably not, but at the time you absolutely do. Not only that, but how often do you feel genuinely satisfied after finishing your Tesco meal deal? I’d be surprised if people feel their productivity was boosted noticeably after you’ve eaten.
Whether you are tracking your macros down to a T, are wanting to maintain control over your diet to live healthily, or you simply are trying to cut your expenditure, meal prepping your lunches is a fantastic way of doing so.
So, I’m going to write a selection of recipes, every week, of the perfect packed lunches that I make for myself. I hope it will inspire you to prep a few meals so you can save those pennies for something worthwhile.
Lemony Garlic Baked Chicken with Giant Cous Cous Salad
Makes 6 – you can make this with a housemate if you want!
For the dressing:
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the salad:
- 200g giant cous cous (ordinary serving size states 100g per person so tailor this to you!)
- A punnet (approx. 280g) cherry tomatoes
- Handful of spinach leaves, sliced
- ½ cucumber, diced
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper
- Handful of flat leaf parsley
For the chicken:
- 6 chicken breasts
- 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200c. Whilst it’s heating up, place each chicken breast on a small piece of baking parchment. Drizzle over olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder, then squeeze the lemon over each fillet.
- Fold the parchment over the chicken fillet so it forms a ‘parcel’. (This method is called dry poaching, which allows the chicken to cook in its own juices meaning the fillet is deliciously moist). Put in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Whilst the chicken is cooking, put the giant cous cous in a pan of cold water on the stove. Bring the water to the boil and leave for 8 minutes. Allow the cous cous to cool slightly when it is cooked.
- Next, in a large bowl, mix all of the salad ingredients together, along with the cous cous.
- In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients together and whisk together. You may now pour your salad dressing over the giant cous cous salad.
- When the chicken breasts are done, take them out and leave them to rest for approx. 5 minutes.
- You’re all set. Simply distribute the salad between 6 Tupperware containers, and place 1 chicken breast in each box (I like to slice the chicken, but its up to you). Enjoy!