Packed lunch ideas for busy students
One of the main things that took time to get used to when I moved off campus was not being able to pop back to my halls for lunch or a snack. It sounds stupid, but often it’s the little adjustments that take the most time to make! Because I like to work on campus and am definitely not prepared to make multiple U1 journeys a day, I’ve become a bit of a packed lunch maestro if I do say so myself. I try to do my meal plan each week so I have a ‘traditional’ packed lunch Monday-Wednesday, leftovers from Wednesday night’s tea (or dinner to all you southerners) and then treat myself to lunch on campus on a Friday. I’m slightly concerned that my recent blogs on budgeting and now planning lunches are making me sound super controlling, but with exams coming up being organised is relieving a whole load of stress. I’m sure I’ll embody the typical student stereotype in term three when I’m not stressed over exams!
Packed lunch ideas
While smoked salmon seems excessive for a student budget, three homemade salmon and cream cheese bagels still work out much cheaper than three lunches bought on campus! This takes literally two minutes to prepare as well – spread Philadelphia (other brands are available) on a bagel, top with your salmon, black pepper and some lemon juice. I add some spinach in too if I have some lying around, just to get some greens in. Bagels are my go to for packed lunches, and while my attempts don’t quite match up to the levels of the Steamhouse (one of the best lunch place in Leam – if you haven’t been already you need to go!), they’re really simple and versatile. Pastrami and cream cheese, pesto, mozzarella and tomato, and hummus and roasted veg (if you have any left over from tea the night before) are all really tasty.
Salads don’t need to be boring, and again, I tend to reach for them because they’re something I can whip up quickly in the morning if I forget to prepare the night before. Just get in a load of ingredients with your weekly shop and use them up throughout the week. Spinach, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, radishes, and even avocado if you’re feeling fancy, along with some cheese, and cooked meat (or alternative) are all good bets. I also buy a bottle of dressing in each week and bring some in a mini Tupperware pour onto the salad just before I eat it.
This is one of my favourite lunches, because it’s simple and tastes really good. This is probably one to make the night before as it takes a bit more time, but is still really easy to make. Boil your egg noodles, and chop a third of a red pepper (use the rest for the other days), some spring onions, some mangetout and drain a third of a can of sweetcorn. Tip around a quarter of a can of coconut milk into a bowl with a generous spoonful of peanut butter along with some soy sauce, honey, pepper, and garlic granules before microwaving for a few seconds to make it easier to mix it all together. Once you’ve combined this to a smooth consistency, mix this into your drained noodles and top with your veg. If you’re feeling fancy you can finish it off with peanuts and some lime.
Snacks are vital for a long day on campus, and while I often give into the temptation of lib café cake, I try to have a few healthy-ish snacks with me. You can’t go wrong with fruit and nuts (especially when it’s of the chocolate variety) cereal bars, and carby snacks like pretzels and rice cakes are also great. Even if you just want a chocolate biscuit, it’s much cheaper to buy a multipack in supermarkets rather than buy one on campus each day.