One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to take my lunch to work a lot more. I had lots of reasons for this – it’s a LOT cheaper, it meant I could control ingredients and portion sizes, it can often be healthier and there’s much less wastage both in food and packaging. There’s no real downside.
Except. The monotony. By about mid February I felt like I was cornering the market in tins of tuna – tuna green salad, tuna pasta salad, tuna potato salad, tuna and couscous had become my go to and frankly it was becoming a bit of a bore. I was maxxed out on the tuna and feeling my motivation starting to wane.
Enter “Bring Your Lunch” by Califia Suntree.
And can I just say…awesome name, Califia Suntree.
And awesome book.
In the interests of full disclosure and all the blah blah, I did not pay for this book, I got it free off net galley but I would hope that you all know me well enough by now to know that if I truly dislike something, I’ll let you know.
The first few chapters of the book are the facts, man. Why you should take your lunch, what you need, planning tips etc. This section is very thorough. Or so I assume from the number of pages devoted to it.
To be honest, I didn’t actually read all of them because I wanted to get my hands on the recipes. Plus, I felt I was already motivated to bring my own lunch didn’t need to be pitched on the reasons why. However, it is very nicely illustrated and if you need to be convinced, or feel your motivation flagging at any time, take the time to read these pages.
My favourite picture in this section was the lunch horoscope. It really helped to refine what recipes would best fit your lifestyle,not just your tastebuds! Which is so important, I’m not the person who is going to be spending any time in the morning making lunch so it’s important for me to know which are the good “night owl” recipes.
This could have been carried even further by attaching the relevant symbols to recipe. That would have been amazing!!!
The food sections of the book are broken down into various sections, starting with
Last Minute Lunches – Salads
The Kale Agrodolce is not only just a good idea for lunches but it has pretty much become my go to salad at the moment. I’m loving the sweet – sour of the agrodolce. Having said that, that name made me giggle though. Anyone of a certain age in Australia would like me probably associate an Agrodolce as the mutant lovechild between a foul mouthed puppet host of a children’s cartoon show from the ’80’s….
And Joe Dolce, a singer who made his fortune by playing to the casual racism of the average Australian;
Thankfully, it’s actually a lovely sweet-sour blend of sultanas soaked in balsamic vinegar. Add some toasted pine nuts, some kale et voila. Here it is with some of the Potato and Mushroom Tarts from Valli Little’s Slow. This was one of the best lunches I have had in ages!!!
Another super salad from this section was the Fennel and Spinach Salad with Figs and Blue Cheese. I don’t have a photo of this . Largely because every time I made it I was far too busy shoving all that tasty goodness into my mouth to take photos. Just believe me when I say it is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. But don’t take my word for it. I feel bad I didn’t have a photo for you, so here is the recipe:
Fennel and Spinach Salad with Figs and Blue Cheese
Make this today, you will not be disappointed!
Last Minute Lunches – Sandwiches
I made the Prawn and Tarragon Egg Salad.
Who knew egg and prawns would go together do well? And tarragon pretty much makes everything taste good. I had this both as a traditional sandwich and wrapped in a lettuce leaf and it was delicious both ways.
Waste not, want not. Make all your food count by creatively using leftovers to make delicious bring your own lunch meals. I made:
Great way to use random veg – I had cabbage, mushrooms, onion, carrot, corn, spring onions, snow peas, broccoli….I think that was all and some chicken breast. I also threw in some prawns. So tasty!!!
And who doesn’t love Chicken Noodle Soup? The Parmesan Cheese and Lemon in this Lemony Chicken Noodle Soup makes it particularly tasty.
Other delicious sounding recipes in this section include:
- Chinese Chicken Salad
- Pork Tacos with Pinepapple Salsa
- Beef Stroganoff
- Ceviche with Mango and Basil
The Freezer Is Your Friend
Mini Lasagnas are my friend. Bake these vegetarian delights in muffin trays and pop in the freezer for future use.
And how gorgeous do these look, particularly when topped with a lovely cherry tomato compote?
Hardy Green Mini Lasagnas With Cherry Tomato Compote
Ditch The Vending Machine
Delicious to snack on. So simple to make.
You can indulge your sweet tooth with
- Chilli & Cherry Brownie Bites
- Gingery Pecan Cranberry Granola Bars
Califia even provides advice on how to Tart Up Your Tuna, so there is absolutely never any reason to get stuck in a rut even with this staple lunch ingredient.
I really liked this book and can see it becoming a go to for lunch (and more).
My only criticism, is that whilst I love the drawings as featured above, I would have liked some photos of the food, sometimes it is just nice to see if you have “got it right”. But that is probably more about my insecurities than any fault of the book.
At the time of writing Bring Your Lunch is selling at around $4 which is absolute bargain. I would pay that just for the salad recipes let alone all the rest. Why don’t you buy it and start bringing it too?
And tell me, what’s your go to work lunch?