It’s taking everything I have not to write another post about sandwiches.
Because, frankly, it took a while for me – approximately 19 days, in fact – to clock on to the fact that lunch on the go does not necessarily equal sandwiches.
Which is funny because for the three years or so that I brought lunch in to work virtually every. single. day. I don’t think I ever brought a sandwich. I guess I am trying to make up for lost time or something!
So, I could talk about those hundreds of lunches I would have lovingly packed – there was absolutely no question at all that on a Sunday afternoon or evening, I was cooking and dishing out into assorted plastic containers: I like to eat a lot so I could never rely on making a big batch of something one night and having leftovers for the next day, I’d have simply eaten too much and been left with half a portion of something. So I would cook up a big batch of something that would last me all week – I’ve never had an issue with eating the same thing every day.
- whole wheat pasta in a tomato sauce, with mince and/or lentils, and some sort of vegetable
- tofu and vegetable curry in a coconut-based sauce, with sweet potato and/or brown rice
- chili with mince and kidney beans, with brown rice or quinoa
When I started working for myself, it was a lot harder to justify cooking in bulk and committing to a certain lunch all week – since most of the time I was at home, I would get up late, have a late breakfast and graze throughout the day rather than have a hot lunch. But as I got busier, I found myself out for longer portions of the day, often with little more than fruit, nuts and snack bars – often, these would see me through, but if not I would have no choice but to buy something.
The problem was that this started to happen increasingly often, and Ben and I soon found ourselves buying a lunch each plus snacks and/or hot drinks more often than not. Which is not a problem in and of itself, but a lot of the time the food was only of average standard, or something we could have easily prepared ourselves, or we found ourselves spending £20-£30 a week on hot water and tea leaves, for the privilege of having some quiet time and some WiFi. So, we made some changes:
- Ben isn’t a big fan of eating hot dishes cold, so we decided to invest in a super-duper insulated container. After some research he went for the Stanley 17oz food jar which has been absolutely brilliant, though it infuriates me that the company have so heavily gendered their products. Do men have different food-insulating requirements? Thought not.
- I am a savage – and space is a premium in my backpack – so I will be eating my food cold. But I am also an avid veggievore so I will be chopping up extra veggies like celery and cucumber and adding them to my portion of whatever has been bulk-cooked for the week. The biggest hurdle for me was accepting that I should be taking a packed lunch (seriously, I get really cranky when my backpack is overly full and/or heavy), but now having scheduled classes to go to for uni has made that easier to get my head around. Oh, and Ben doing the bulk cooking helps too!
- We each bought a big ThermoCafé Thermos for a day’s supply of hot drinks. The ThermoCafé range is cheaper than the original Thermos flasks, and the trade-off is of course that they can’t guarantee the same degree of heat for the same length of time. However, having used an original Thermos, I actually found the drinks remained too hot to consume speedily throughout most of the day, so these are perfect. It has been great being able to pour myself a small, steaming hot cup of coffee to sip in between clients while I clear my head for the next session – or have some hot herbal tea to sip on the way home as the darkness sets in.
Having made all of these resolutions, I of course completely misjudged my day last Monday and wound up very hungry at midday, with clients til 5pm, having already eaten all my snacks (yes, all of them). Ben talked me out of trying to get by until I got home, and we set out in search of food before hanger set in.
Like I said, I guess I must be in sandwich mode these days because as soon as I saw the bread sitting in the bargain bin I knew it was what I was in the mood for – there were a few other promising contenders but I am a sucker for rye bread, and needed something sliced as I don’t tend to carry a breadknife around with me. I am often disappointed by packaged bread, but this organic rye from the Celtic Bakers was surprisingly good – especially given it was nearing the end of its sell-by date!
There are often a few tubs of hummus lurking in the clearance section (I’m not a that much of a cheapskate, I just hate waste and am not fussy about use-by dates which is why I check out the reduced bit so much!) and that day I was in luck! I didn’t quite trust the raw beetroot hummus – beetroot tends to hog the flavour limelight – but the “normal” hummus was looking a bit… bubbly. So I decided to give the Living Food Kitchen hummus a try and I’m so glad I did – it was super tasty!
I know hummus and bread probably isn’t the best way to showcase how vegans can eat well on the go, but maybe we can see this as an example of how even if you struggle to find vegan food when you’re out and about, you can always rely on bread and hummus – just look out for alternative varieties to make it feel a little more special (and increase the nutritional benefits).
I ended up going on to have bread and hummus for the next two breakfasts and lunches (seriously, it was all I wanted, despite our fridge and fruit bowl overflowing with beautiful colourful fresh things to eat) so for a £2.60 investment I’d say I did pretty well!
And if you’re wondering about the plastic knife that I so conveniently had with me despite having no food… it’s part of a Sistema cutlery set that lives in my backpack full-time despite the real estate issues. I love that it includes a set of chopsticks! An absolute must for anyone who eats on the go!