It's easy to be lured out for a carb heavy lunch every day, a temptation that can leave you feeling sluggish, help you put on weight and easily drain £40 a week on nothing special.
With that in mind, Esquire have got you covered with recipes that you can make at home and take in the next day - packed lunches, if you will - that fit in one Tupperware and won't break the bank or your waistline.
Five meals, one for every weekday. Thank us later.
Refuel after the gym: Chicken, halloumi and roasted vegetables
Chicken is an excellent choice after getting your sweat on and halloumi contains high levels of protein as well as being salty and delicious. If you don't want to buy pre-cooked chicken you can instead marinade in salt, pepper, lemon juice and herbs (paprika, basil or rosemary work well.)
- 180g pre-cooked chicken
- 150g halloumi
- 1 courgette
- 1 red onion
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 bunch of basil, stalks trimmed
Chop the vegetables into small cubes drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 180°C for 30 minutes until crisp on the outside and soft when pressed. Chop or tear the halloumi into 1 inch cubes and scatter over tray with basil, cook for a further 15 mins until halloumi is soft and browned. Chop chicken into strips and scatter over.
Keep yourself awake: Steak with grilled aubergine feta and asparagus
In moderation red meat is a great source of iron which reduces your chances of anemia and feeling tired. This chunky 'salad' is filling and delicious and lasts as leftovers for ages so you can double up and you'll have a dinner and lunch covered.
- 250g sirloin steak
- 100g Greek feta, crumbled
- 1 aubergine
- Juice of half lemon
- 125g asparagus
Rub the steak with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice, leave to marinade for 30 minutes if you have time. Cut the stalk off the aubergine and slice length ways into 1cm strips, discarding the ends where the skin in. Heat a griddle pan with a little olive oil and grill the strips of aubergine until they become charred on the outside and soft. Grill the steak to your preference (1.5 mins on each side for rare, 2 mins on each side for medium rare, 2.5 mins on each side for medium-well done). Boil a pain of water and cook asapargus as per packet instructions. Slice the steak into strips and mix with the aubergine and crumbled feta, and asparagus, season to taste.
Brain food: Chopped vegetable salad with prawns
This Turkish-inspired salad requires no cooking and is a refreshingly light meal. The prawns are a great source of Omega 3 which improves your mood memory and brain function.
- 1 red onion, very finely chopped
- 100g cherry tomatoes
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- Half cucumber, finely chopped
- 1 bunch basil chopped
- 1 bunch parsley chopped
- Juiced lemon
- 200g precooked prawns
Chop all vegetables until diced very small, add herbs, lemon juice, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in pre-cooked prawns and leave to marinade for 20 minutes or overnight if preparing the night prior. Soak up the juices with some crusty wholegrain bread if you're after something more filling.
A treat day salad: Chorizo and potato salad with rocket and Manchego
This is adapted from Australian chef Katie Quinn Davies recipe, the sweet potato is less starchy and better for you than normal potatoes but the cheese and chorizo still make the salad feel smokey, salty and a bit naughty. The flavours all infuse if left for a few days so it can easily be made for dinner and kept to take into work.
- 2 large sweet potatoes, chopped into 2cm cubes
- 200g chorizo, halved lengthways and cut into small slices
- 100g manchego shaved
- 150g rocket
- 65g cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 red onion finely sliced
- Juice of half 1 lemon
Cook the diced sweet potato at 180 for 40 minutes until crisp on the outside. Fry the chorizo on a high heat until skin colours but not burns and remove with a slotted spoon to get rid of excess oil. Mix the rocket, sliced red onion, chorizo, sweet potato and tomatoes. Combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the crushed garlic and lemon juice, pour over the salad and toss. Shave over the manchego using a vegetable peeler.
For a day off the meat: Marinaded lentils with peppers, rocket and avocado
A day off meat can reduce the risk of heart disease and help with weight control. This recipe requires no cooking whatsoever and can be prepared 'al desko'.
- 250g pre-cooked lentils (these by Jamie Oliver are great and available from several supermarkets)
- 3 red pepper
- 200g rocket
- 2 avocado
Microwave lentils as packet instructs, slice ingredients and mix together with lentils, season with salt and pepper and dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Serve with toasted pitta bread.