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Packed Lunches: get excited about autumn flavours

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As the days get shorter and we start settling back into our daily routines this autumn, look for ways to keep things fun.

Instead of the same old sandwich, we’re reinventing packed lunches with a monthly feature filled with easy, cost-effective lunchtime solutions to keep you full and feeling fine. Before the daily grind gets you down, save some pennies on the way to school or work with cheap train tickets and spice up your lunch hour with the best of autumn flavours. Read on for our best recipes this autumn…

Hummus Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Wrap

Say goodbye to the ham and cheese sandwich and switch things up with a delicious wrap, packed full of the energy you need to sail through the afternoon. Particularly when you’re tight for time, this is a great way to prepare a flavourful lunch without all the prep work.

You’ll need:

• 1 large whole wheat tortilla wrap
• 2 tablespoons roasted garlic hummus
• 1 roasted red pepper
• 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
• 1 cup baby spinach

Preparing your wrap:

1. Start by laying down a piece of cling film or parchment paper and placing your wrap directly on top so it lays flat – this will make wrapping easier when you’re done.
2. Spread an even layer of roasted garlic hummus around the centre of the wrap. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and use different flavours of hummus, or if you’d prefer, tzatziki will work too.
3. Cut your roasted red pepper into thin slices and lay side by side in a strip down the centre of the wrap, and be sure to leave enough room around the perimeter so you can close it when you’re finished. You can buy pre-roasted peppers in a jar, or, if you’re feeling inspired, roast them yourself ahead of time. To do this, all spread some olive oil on the skin of the pepper and cook on high heat for 30 – 40 minutes, until the skin is completely wrinkles and the peppers are charred. Cover with aluminium foil and let cool – this makes it easier to peel and slice the peppers.
4. Add crumbled feta cheese evenly over peppers and then layer with spinach leaves.
5. Fold the right and left hand edges of the wrap over, then roll slowly from the bottom, tucking in any ingredients that try and sneak out as you go. Wrap in cling film or parchment paper, and you’re done!

Butternut squash salad

This super flavourful salad is inexpensive and easy to make ahead of time, so all you need to do in the morning is grab your Tupperware and go. And even better, this packed lunch sneaks in 4 of your 5-a-day.

You’ll need:

• 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
• 2 cloves garlic, diced
• 2 tsp olive oil
• 50g wild or brown rice
• 50g Puy lentils
• 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
• 50g dried cranberries
• 25g pumpkin seeds
• Juice 1 lemon
• Salt and pepper to taste

Preparing your salad:

1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Spread the squash over a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and garlic. Pop it in the oven and back for roughly 30 minutes or until tender.
2. While the squash is in the oven, cook the rice and lentils in a medium sized bowl of salted boiling water for roughly 20 minutes.
3. In the last 4 minutes, add the broccoli to the same pot and let your ingredients finish cooking. Edamame beans are also a great substitute for the broccoli, and cook for roughly the same amount of time. Drain well.
4. Stir in the cranberries and pumpkin seeds. These ingredients add a flavourful new dimension to your dish, but if you can’t find pumpkin seeds, you could substitute with sunflower seeds or leave this out entirely. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Once out from the oven, add roast squash and stir in gently until ingredients are combined. Pour over lemon juice and serve.

What are your favourite meals and snacks to bring on the daily commute? Are you going to try any of our easy packed lunch recipes? Leave us a comment and let us know…

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