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Packed lunch hacks to help have a stress free week

Thinking of healthy and exciting meals can be tricky at the best of times, but as we head back to the office and prepare the kids for school in the 'new normal', many of us will be looking for some lunchbox inspiration.

From filling salads and speedy snacks to a frozen sarnie that doesn’t go soggy, Justine Pattison is here with some savvy packed lunch hacks to help us have a stress free week.

SANDWICHES, ROLLS AND WRAPS

The easiest way to keep meals interesting throughout the week - frozen lunches! There are some rules to keeping them fresh and the flavoursome: 

DO

  • Always use good quality bread (preferably sliced). It stays drier, so is less likely to go soggy as it thaws.

  • Always spread both slices thinly with butter to help create a barrier to prevent the filling seeping through to the bread

  • Cut the sandwiches into quarters, so they thaw more quickly, and wrap in foil

  • When you take it out, unwrap the foil and rewrap in a piece of kitchen paper before putting in the lunch box. This will help prevent any sogginess.

DON’T 

  • Freeze any salad ingredients with your sandwich – so, no lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber etc. The water content means they will go very soggy as they thaw. Serve salad and veg sticks alongside instead.

  • Keep for more than a week in the freezer. The less time they are in there the better the results.

FROZEN FILLING

If you don’t want to make lots of sandwiches (or don’t have the space) you can freeze seasoned and cooked chicken fillets as a filling.

They can then be taken directly from the freezer in the morning and put into a wrap with salad. By lunchtime they will be defrosted and ready to eat!

PREP AHEAD VEGETABLES

A section of crunchy vegetable sticks that can be prepared ahead and kept in a lidded container in the fridge for up 2-3 days. 

  • Carrot sticks, celery sticks, whole cherry tomatoes – put in a lidded container with damp kitchen paper to help prevent them drying out

  • Pepper sticks and cucumber – put in a lidded container with dry kitchen paper. Scoop out the cucumber seeds to make them last longer!

  • Make shop-bought dips healthier and go further – add a couple of tablespoons of Greek yogurt

FROZEN CHOCOLATE CRISPY CAKES

A mid morning snack or afternoon treat. They are cheap to make – half the price of the supermarket ones - and far fewer added ingredients than the ones you get in tubs from the supermarket. 

FROZEN FRUIT

A really nice change from your go-to apples and bananas. You can put frozen fruit into the lunch box or buy in packs from the supermarket. By lunchtime, they are thawed and ready to eat.

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Weekdays 10am-12:30pm ITV