Quick fixes for lunch

When hunger strikes, a tasty and nutritious meal can be a lifesaver, which is why planning ahead makes sense

 Carrot and sweet potato fritters. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Carrot and sweet potato fritters. Photograph: Aidan Crawley


Lunch is a tricky customer. Whether we work in or outside the home, most of us are under pressure at lunchtime, and it can be almost impossible to find something quick and nutritious to eat if you’re on the run. Even making a sandwich can seem like a chore when you have a zillion other things to do.

The solution? Well, the answer, really, is to think – and do – ahead. I’m the first to admit that this isn’t always easy. But a little bit of advance work

pays dividends in terms of time and energy, especially if you’re on the road.

You will have more energy because the food you eat will give it back to you in spades, and you will also waste less time shopping and spend more time chilling over lunch. Win-win? I think so.

So, what are the best strategies to help plan ahead? My number one solution is cooking in bulk, so there are plenty of “bits” that can be upcycled into leftovers for lunches and snacks.

There are some who might be churlish about getting the same thing to eat for lunch a couple of days in a row, but I have two answers to this: some dishes are nicer the next day; and be proud of yourself for cooking from scratch. My aim is to get people to cook. And if I have to highlight every trick and shortcut to get them to do so, then so be it.

The two recipes this week are stellar examples of dishes that are easily portable. They’re simple and fast to make, and vegetarian and nutritious to boot. They’re also filling – so you won’t need that afternoon bar of chocolate to boost your energy.

The coconut soup is full of body and flavour. It’s a sort of Asian gazpacho that can also be served warm if you prefer. It can be a little over the top in terms of coconut flavour, so feel free to increase the amount of tomatoes and lime juice.

The vegetarian fritters are surprisingly tasty for something with so few ingredients, perhaps because of the fresh herbs, which gently complement the potato and carrot.

Just out of the oven, these are lovely on their own, but they would also be very tasty cold and accompanied by a tomato chutney or relish, or even some guacamole. They can also be kept overnight and served the next day, unfolded from some tin foil. They make a great accompaniment to soup. Either way, this is lunch made easy.

dkemp@irishtimes.com Food cooked and styled by Domini Kemp and Gillian Fallon

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