While we're pretty good at making lunch to cover off the beginning of the week, by Wednesday we're lacking in both appropriate fridge-fodder and combos that keep our interest. Cue your adeptly balanced shopping list and menu for the week, courtesy of dietician and food-worshipper, Deirdre Fagan. Here's how our editor, Laurie Prescott, got on when she spent a working week following Deirdre's meal plan. In summary, if you like feeling good, probably give it a go.
Feta cheese, avocados, salmon, wholegrain wraps, sweet potatoes, lemons, kale, broccoli, hummus, spinach, beetroot, carrots and frozen peas (they'll have defrosted by lunchtime).
Save time by doing some Sunday prep
1. Cook one cup of quinoa in four cups of vegetable stock. Cooking quinoa in stock makes it taste SO much better.
2. If using dried lentils, cook one cup of lentils as per the packet instructions.
3. Cut your sweet potatoes into cubes. Add half a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes at 200℃.
For filling but nutritious lunching, include a combination of starchy carbohydrates, vegetables and protein. For each meal aim roughly for:
● ½ plate of veg/salad (fresh, frozen, tinned or dried - eat the rainbow!)
● ¼ plate starchy carbs (quinoa, couscous, potatoes, bread, rice)
● ¼ plate protein (chicken, fish, lentils, peas, beans, nuts, falafel, hummus)
● A small amount of fat (cheese, avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil)
Monday: Roasted sweet potatoes, cooked lentils, broccoli, leaves, kale and/or spinach with tahini dressing
I have something of a sweet tooth, so I’m suitably excited about the sweet potatoes in this combo. Also including a handful of lentils, I get the carbs I need to keep me going without my usual mid-afternoon grab for something desserty.
Tuesday: Quinoa, beetroot, peas, kale, feta cheese, vinaigrette
On Tuesday I’m still feeling pretty smug. I assembled today’s lunch yesterday evening, earning myself an extra snooze button in bed. The addition of feta lifts this textured dish into treat territory, rather than strict dietary regime.
Wednesday: Roasted sweet potatoes, feta, grated carrot, spinach and kale wrap with tahini dressing
This was the easiest meal to prepare — it was literally a case of throwing all the prepped ingredients into a wrap. It was also the lightest, meaning I found myself slightly hungry by 3pm. But rather than my usual Twirl, I snacked on granola (recipe below), so still felt great.
Thursday: Cooked salmon fillet, quinoa, peas, broccoli, vinaigrette
I’m normally guilty of not using everything in the fridge before it's past its best, but this week I notice the entirety of the shopping list is getting used. My new found cost-efficiency makes today’s salmon, cooked at 200℃ for 15 minutes, taste even better. Coat in wholegrain mustard for added chutzpah.
Friday: Hummus, beetroot, grated carrot and spinach wrap
A colourful and surprisingly substantial end to the week, wholegrain wraps weren't available when I completed my shop at the weekend. But rather than fixating on what I couldn't easily get, Deirdre encourages substitutions for items that you're not keen on or don't have, so I’m using a white wrap. Easy.
No more hangry
To avoid reaching for sweets or chocolate, or chocolatey sweets, it's a good idea to have a snack on hand. I made a batch of oat granola on Sunday and added yoghurt and berries throughout the week.