Monday, October 25, 2021
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    10 Easy-To-Cook Work Lunches You Can Prep The Night Before

    Remember when ma used to cut all the vegetables for the week in one sitting? Just as the ration came in, she would wash the veggies and cut and store them in the bartan, all ready for use when she was going to make food for the whole family.

    Well, it’s time to take a cue. With the pandemic, many of us are juggling multiple roles. We’re working from home or the office, cleaning up because many of us haven’t called the maid back, preparing our food, washing the dishes, the clothes—it can all get overwhelming.

    But, it’s never been more important to eat well and eat healthily. The focus on immunity-boosting food that’s home-cooked has been the mandate, right through the pandemic. So, it’s time you think ahead and work smartly—just like mom!

    Here are 10 easy-to-cook work lunches that you can prepare for the night before, and simply assemble in the morning. Most of these dishes will take 10 minutes or less before you can get on with your day.

    10 Make-Ahead Lunch Recipes That Are Super Healthy & Easy To Cook

    Items on the list are prepared the night before and hence some would need to be heated/reheated before consuming. 

    1. Mexican Salad 

    A desi salad with a Mexican touch. 

    Prep Time:  10 mins 
    Cooking Time: 0 mins 

    Ingredients
    For Dressing:

    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • Fresh coriander leaves (dhaniya) – roughly chopped
    • 3 cloves of garlic – finely minced
    • 2 tsp dried oregano
    • 3 tbsp lemon juice
    • 3/4th tsp cumin powder (jeera)
    • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes

    For Salad:

    • 200 gms lettuce
    • ½ cup tomatoes – chopped
    • Corn
    • 1/2 cup kidney beans (rajma) – boiled
    • 1 avocado
    • Spring onion

    Method
    To make the dressing:

    1. In a small glass, add the extra virgin olive oil, fresh coriander leaves, minced garlic, dried oregano, lemon juice, cumin powder and chilli flakes and whisk all the ingredients well.

    To make the salad:

    1. Roughly chop the lettuce into bite-sized pieces.
    2. In a bowl, add the lettuce, chopped tomatoes, corn, boiled kidney beans, avocado, spring onion and little dressing and toss the ingredients.
    3. Keep adding the dressing as you toss the salad through.
    4. The delicious Mexican salad is ready to be served. 

    2. Chicken Salad 

    A super easy and healthy chicken salad, made even more delicious with its beautiful taste and colourful textures. 

    Prep Time: 10 mins 
    Cooking Time: 10 mins 

    Ingredients
    For Dressing:

    • Olive oil
    • Honey
    • Mustard
    • Curry powder
    • Lemon juice
    • Salt
    • Black pepper

    For Salad:

    • Spinach, roughly chopped
    • 1 lettuce, roughly chopped
    • 1 carrot, julienned
    • 1 onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 tomato deseeded and thinly sliced
    • Chicken, boiled in salt water for 8-10 minutes

    Method

    1. Add all the vegetables and chicken to a bowl.
    2. In another bowl mix all the dressing ingredients well and make a dressing.
    3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and the chicken and toss well.

    3. Crunchy Onion Tomato Toast 

    One of the most simplest recipes with ingredients found in your everyday kitchen essentials. The crunchy onion tomato toast is surely to be  your new favourite sandwich. 

    Prep Time: 10 mins
    Cooking Time: 3 mins 

    Ingredients

    • 6 bread slices 
    • 2 tomato 
    • 1 onion 
    • Coriander leaves (dhaniya) – chopped
    • 1 green chilli 
    • 1 tsp salt 
    • ½ tsp red chilli powder 
    • Clarified butter (Ghee)– to toast

    Method

    1. Finely chop the onions, tomatoes, chillies and coriander. 
    2. In a bowl, add the chopped vegetables and the spices. Mix well. 
    3. Add the tomato mixture on the bread slice and fry for 1 minute on each side.
    4. Enjoy the crunchy tomato sandwich. 

    4. Grilled Egg Mayo Sandwich 

    Egg and mayonnaise may be an unheard combination but it surely is an underrated one. Try out this quick and easy egg-mayo sandwich. 

    Prep Time: 15 mins
    Cooking Time: 10 mins 

    Ingredients

    • 4 slices bread
    • 2 eggs
    • Mayonnaise 
    • Butter
    • Salt and pepper, as per taste 

    Method

    1. Soft boil the eggs for 6 mins and peel them
    2. Spread a generous amount of mayonnaise on the bread slices.
    3. Cut the soft boiled egg on the bread slice and spread it evenly.
    4. Sprinkle salt and pepper as per your liking. 
    5. Add a thin layer of butter on top of the sandwich and toast 
    6. Enjoy your grilled egg-mayo sandwich. 

    5. Cold Sandwich 

    A sandwich that can be prepped before hand, eaten cold and is simple to make? Cold sandwich is your answer! 

    Prep Time: 10 mins 
    Cooking Time: 0 mins 

    Ingredients

    • 1 Capsicum – chopped
    • 1 Cucumber – deseeded & chopped
    • 1 Onion – chopped
    • 1 Carrot – chopped
    • 2 tbsp Mayonnaise
    • Salt
    • Black Pepper
    • 4 Bread Slices
    • Butter

    Method

    1. Add Capsicum (chopped) in the bowl with Cucumber (deseeded & chopped), Onion (chopped), Carrot (chopped) mix them all together.
    2. Now add Mayonnaise, Salt & Black Pepper mix it again together and let it chill for 10 minutes. In the meantime, let’s prepare the bread for which first slim out the edges (as shown in the video) 
    3. Now butter the inside of the Bread and add the fillings, spread it properly to the side. 
    4. Close your sandwich and cut them into one-third of the portion and your mayo cold sandwich is ready to serve.

    6. Masala Macaroni 

    An international pasta with Indian taste. For all the masala lovers, masala macaroni is the perfect pasta for your hunger pangs. 

    Prep Time: 15 mins 
    Cooking Time: 30 mins 

    Ingredients

    For the macaroni:

    • 1 ½ cups macaroni
    • ½ tsp salt  
    • Water
    • 1 tbsp oil 

    For macaroni masala: 

    • 2 tbsp oil 
    • 1 tsp garlic -finely chopped
    • 1 tsp ginger – finely chopped
    • 2 green chilli – finely chopped
    • 1 large onion -finely chopped
    • 2 tomatoes – finely chopped
    • 1 tsp salt 
    • ½ capsicum – finely chopped
    • 1 carrot – finely chopped
    • Few beans – finely chopped
    • ½ cup water 
    • 1 tsp red chilli flakes  
    • 1 tsp Italian seasoning 
    • 2 tbsp red chilli sauce 
    • ¼ cup tomato ketchup 
    • Mozzarella cheese (Grated) 
    • Coriander leaves 

    Method

    1. Take water in a pot. Add salt and let it boil. Then add macaroni and cook till it becomes soft. Strain the macaroni and keep it aside. Then drizzle oil to prevent macaroni from sticking. 

    2. Heat a kadai with oil. Add onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies. Saute till the onions are transparent. 

    3. Add the tomatoes and saute them 

    4. After the tomatoes are mushy, add salt and mix. Then add capsicum, carrot, beans.

    5. Add water to cook the vegetables.

    6.Close and cook for 10 mins till the veggies are cooked. 

    7.Add the red chili flakes, Italian seasoning, red chili sauce, tomato ketchup and mix them well 

    8. Grate some mozzarella cheese and give it a quick mix.

    9. Add the cooked macaroni. Mix everything well. 

    10. Finally, add coriander leaves, mix well and serve the Masala Macaroni.

    7. One-Pot Methi Rice 

    Literally a hidden treasure, the one-pot methi rice is something quick to whip up and nutritious to lunch on!

    Prep Time: 5 mins
    Cooking Time: 10 mins

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup rice
    • ½ cup methi leaves
    • Whole spices – cloves (laung), cinnamon sticks (dalchini), bay leaf (tej patta)
    • Salt 
    • Oil or Ghee 

    Method

    1. Heat the oil in your vessel and add the whole spices. Saute till fragrant. 
    2. On a low flame, add the methi leaves and saute for 2 mins. 
    3. Add in the washed rice and salt. Cook till well done. 
    4. Serve hot with raita.

    8. Pasta In Makhani Sauce

    Another international and Indian fusion that will blow your mind away! The very famous makhani sauce with pasta is a dish that is a must-have!

    Prep Time: 15 mins
    Cooking Time: 20 mins 

    Ingredients

    • 3 cups water
    • Salt
    • 1 cup pasta

    For Makhani sauce

    • 2 tbsp oil
    • 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
    • 1 inch cinnamon stick (dalchini)
    • 3 cloves (laung)
    • 2 green cardamom pods (elaichi)
    • 1 tsp cumin (jeera)
    • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
    • 1 inch ginger (chopped)
    • 8-10 cashews (kaju)
    • Salt
    • 1 tsp red chilli powder
    • 3 tomatoes (puree)
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 2 tbsp cream
    • 1 tsp oil
    • 1/2 capsicum – chopped
    • 1 tbsp sweet corn
    • Salt
    • 2-3 tbsp water

    Method

    1. Heat up the water in the pot then add salt, pasta and wait till pasta cooks. 
    2. For makhani sauce for which heat up the oil then add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamom pods, jeera, garlic cloves (chopped), ginger (chopped).
    3.  Next, saute it for one minute then add cashew nuts, onion (chopped), salt and mix it all.
    4.  Add red chilli powder, saute this for 20 seconds.
    5.  Next, add tomatoes (puree) and stir it for 5-6 minutes (as shown in the video) then add butter and cream 
    6. Blend all the mixture together. 
    7. Next, heat the oil in the pan then add butter, capsicum (chopped), sweet corn, salt.
    8. Now add the makhani sauce, water then add pasta, let it cook for a while and your makhani pasta is ready to serve.

    9. Vegetable Stir Fry 

    A healthy mix of all the delicious vegetables. Try out this recipe with your own twist and favourite vegetables. 

    Prep Time: 5 mins
    Cooking Time: 5 mins

    Ingredients

    • 6-7 button mushrooms, sliced
    • ½ medium red capsicum, cut into triangles
    • ½ medium yellow capsicum, cut into triangles
    • ½ medium green capsicum, cut into triangles
    • 1 medium carrot, sliced
    • ¼ medium broccoli, separated into florets 
    • 6-8 french beans, diagonally sliced and blanched
    • 1 tablespoon oil 
    • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    • Salt to taste
    • Crushed black peppercorns to taste
    • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
    • 100 grams tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes
    • ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
    • 1½ tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
    • Diagonally sliced spring onion greens for garnishing

    Method

    1. Heat oil in a non-stick wok. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and sauté for 1-2 minutes.

    2. Add red capsicum, yellow capsicum and green capsicum and sauté for 1 minute. Add carrot and broccoli and sauté for 1 minute.

    3. Add french beans and sauté for 30 seconds. Add salt, crushed peppercorns and chilli flakes and sauté for 30 seconds.

    4. Add tofu and sauté for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce and sweet-chilli sauce and sauté for 1 minute.

    5. Serve hot garnished with spring onion greens.

    10. Baked Vegetables With White Sauce

    Bake not just cakes but also delicious savoury meals! Baked vegetables with white sauce is sure to satisfy your creamy-cheesy cravings. 

    Prep Time: 10 mins
    Cooking Time: 20 mins

    Ingredients

    • 3 tbsp butter 
    • 3 tbsp flour (maida)
    • 200ml milk
    • Salt to taste
    • 1 pinch pepper powder 
    • 1 pinch nutmeg powder 
    • 200gms processed cheese 
    • 1 tbsp olive oil 
    • ½ cup carrot – diced and blanched
    • ½ cup mushroom – diced
    • ½ cup green peas -blanched
    • ½ cup sweet corn – blanched
    • ½ cup french beans – diced and blanched
    • ½ cup capsicum – diced
    • ½ cup broccoli florets – blanched
    • Salt to taste
    • 1 tsp oregano 
    • 1 tsp red chilli flakes 

    Method

    1. Heat butter in a pan on medium heat, add flour, stir and cook well ensuring the colour doesn’t change a lot.
    2. Add the milk slowly and gradually and keep whisking to avoid lumps.
    3. Add salt & pepper, nutmeg powder and grated processed cheese, mix well and cook further for 2-3 minutes, make sure the sauce is silky smooth without any lumps.
    4. Set a wok on medium-high heat, add olive oil, add the veggies, salt & pepper, oregano and chilli flakes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, add the freshly prepared white sauce, mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
    5. Pour the veggies with white sauce in a baking dish and grate some processed cheese over it.
    6. Preheat the oven for 10 mins and bake it at 180°C for 10-12 minutes. 
    7. Serve hot with freshly toasted garlic bread. 

    Looking for more easy-to-cook recipes? Watch this video of buttery garlic mushrooms enhanced with Indian spices that add a much-needed desi tadka to this Spanish dish. You will love this lip-smacking recipe!

    Useful Kitchen Tips

    1. Prep the fillings of sandwiches the day before and make the sandwich whenever you want to. This way you’ll have a fresh sandwich which won’t turn soggy. 
    2. Prep the vegetables by cutting them well in advance to help you whip up something quick. 
    3. Play around with ingredients while cooking a dish, as per your tastes.

    Work might be stressful but cooking lunch for work doesn’t have to be. Make these easy-to-go lunches ahead of time and save yourself some energy. Just serve, heat and eat! Recipes as these are just that simple! Try these recipes for your next lunch plan. And enjoy an easy and nutritious meal during these long workdays. 

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