7 Ways To Say Goodbye To Sad Desk Lunches

If you're an essential worker out of ideas or working from home and find yourself eating toddler crusts, FW Creative Director and Recipe Maker, Patti Andrews is here for you.

By Patti Andrews


If you're an essential worker out of ideas or working from home and find yourself eating toddler crusts, FW Creative Director and Recipe Maker, Patti Andrews is here for you.

By Patti Andrews

Things have changed and with that, our lunchtime eating habits have too. Some people are making fermented tofu in their spare time while others are homeschooling, working and caring for family members in ways they never have before. My hope is that, below, you find a lunchtime tip or two that resonates— whether you fall into the first or second category, or in somewhere between.


The Late Breakfast

Toast makes a damn fine meal (as long as it’s not from three hours ago, when your toddler discarded it). For extra points, rub the bread with a halved garlic clove prior to toasting and drizzle with olive oil to finish. Here, some ways to drag your toast from breakfast to lunch:

  1. Pan fried mushrooms and labneh.
  2. Fresh tomato, basil and feta.
  3. Sauerkraut, sardines and rocket.
  4. Avocado, fried egg, parsley, lemon juice, chilli jam.

EASY: The View From Great Island’s DIY Labneh
TRICKIER: Overnight Artisan Bread


Ban The Lasagne

In light of Future Women’s Jamila Rizvi calling for a ban on the New Baby Gift of Lasagne, I present to you meals that are freezable, begging to be made in bulk and perfect for gifting:

  1. Dal; just add Rice, a leafy green and hot mango pickle.
  2. Pumpkin Soup; this can be used as a pasta sauce, base for a risotto or added to rice bowls.
  3. Mushroom, Fennel Seed and Lentil Ragu; serve with pasta or polenta.
  4. Pizza dough; just add a decent tomato base, mozzarella, a cured meat and olives.

EASY: Jim Lahey’s Pizza Dough
TRICKIER: Little Veggie Patch Co’s Heirloom Pumpkin Seeds


The Back Up Band

Missing the sandwich at your local? For me it’s all about the accompaniments; the acid, the heat and the condiment. Let’s get started:

  1. The foundation has to be good; seedy, wholemeal or rye will start things heading in the right direction.
  2. Invest in a decent pickle, a local relish or an A+ mustard.
  3. Don’t overdo it. Only a maximum of 5 ingredients allowed. Let them shine.

MAKE: Cornersmith’s Piccalilli 
BUY: Nice Pickles’ Table Pickles


The Crisper Clean Out

Hiding in the bottom of your fridge could be a very decent bunch of ingredients. I am here to help that wilted kale, those wrinkled mushrooms, the forgotten zucchini and last night’s potato bake work for you:

  1. Sautée the vegetables in a little garlic and olive oil.
  2. Add a can of chickpea or butter beans.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add half a raw, grated beetroot.
  5. Garnish with a fried egg and parsley.
  6. Drizzle with dressing of 50:50 lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to olive oil
  7. Serve.

Other add ins: Brown rice, quinoa, pearl barley, last night’s roast chook, dilly beans, seeded mustard, a good old slice of bread with butter, danish feta, pine nuts or sesame seeds. You do you.

EASY: Arthur Street Kitchen’s Potato Puttanesca 
TRICKIER: Anna Jone’s Leftovers Greens Fritters with Crumbled Cheese


School Lunch, Two Ways

If you have school-aged children, the trick is to reconfigure their lunch into something you enjoy eating. It is called ‘self-care’.

  1. Broccoli Toasties. For grown ups: Add hot sauce
  2. Pesto and Ham Frittata. For grown ups: Serve with a rocket and fennel salad
  3. Sushi Sandwiches with edamame. For grown ups: Make chilli tuna poke bowls.

BUY: Ultra Culture’s Tomato Kasoundi
MAKE: Auntie Tessa’s Hot Sauce


The Kale Chip

The humble kale chip, adding nutrients to food since 2005.

I researched the invention of kale chips and found the following (I cannot vouch for its authenticity): “Kale chips were invented sometime around the year 2005 by a New York chef and potato chip addict named Herbert Rindfleisch. Having gained a significant amount of weight as a result of his profession and love for salty fried treats, Rindfleisch was distraught when he met and fell in love with a nutritionist with whom he could not share the full breadth of his passion for food.” states the website Cook, Serve, Delicious. “Jumping right into the deep end, he set about finding a substitute for his potato chip addiction, eventually finding that baking kale into chips was not only more healthy, but delicious and addictive as well.”

So there you go! Add these to salads, poke bowls, eat as a snack or turn it into kale dust and sneak it into your kids’ bolognese. You can thank Herbert for it.

MAKE: Maggie Beer’s Kale Chips
BUY: Extraordinary Foods Kale Chips 45g



Can’t get enough lunch content? Follow these hashtags on Instagram for more midday food moods:

  1. #lunchaldesko
  2. #putaneggonit
  3. #notsosaddesklunch

Sharing is caring, so please tell us your go-to lunch recipes in the Future Women Member-Only Facebook Group. I shall see you there!

Image credits: Instagram @pizza_night_