It can be difficult to bring lunch to school when it’s so convenient to grab food on campus. But the fact is, not many students have the budget to purchase lunch at school on a regular basis. Here are some simple, customizable recipes that might give you the inspiration to assemble your own lunch box — and leave you with enough leftover ingredients to pack lunches for the whole week.
Pronounced (shahr-coot-uh-ree), a charcuterie platter is an assortment of cured meats and fresh cheeses, pâtés, dried or fresh fruits, nuts, and sometimes pickled vegetables. Charcuterie stems from the French words chair meaning flesh, and cuit meaning cooked. It’s common to lay out a variety of meats and cheeses onto a large slab of wood or a fancy marble platter; however, a charcuterie-style lunch can also be made by using simple ingredients from the grocery store and a lunch container.
Ingredients used for charcuterie platters range from salami to bacon, to goat cheese or smoked cheddar. You can even use cold cuts, as they are typically cheaper than butcher shop cured meats. The idea is to create different textures and mixtures of tastes – so as long as you have a few types of cheeses, meats, fruits, and vegetables, the rest is up to you.
Italian salami slices, sliced ham, or turkey
Smoked or aged cheddar, brie, swiss cheese
Fresh grapes, dried cranberries, apple slices
Almonds, walnuts or cashews
Pickles or olives
Sliced baguette, table crackers
Roll out about eight meat slices. Add into a medium-sized container with all other ingredients, dispersing the variety of cheeses, fruits, nuts, and vegetables evenly into a beautiful spread.
This is a healthy lunch box that gets just the right amount of protein in to keep you going throughout the day. Tofu, eggs, nuts, chicken, or pork — you can switch out the protein source for this recipe with just about anything depending on your diet.
1 block of extra firm tofu
¼ cup of uncooked rice
¼ cup roasted nuts
½ cup of broccoli (or your favorite vegetable to steam)
Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, chop up vegetables to steam. Steam vegetables by simply placing them in a microwavable bowl with 1 tbsp. of water and microwaving for about one minute.
Preheat oven to 350F. Before slicing the tofu, absorb as much liquid from it as possible using a paper towel to ensure it will become firm and crispy when cooked. Press paper towel into the block of tofu on each side and compress between two heavy plates or pans. Leave the tofu like this for about 10 minutes. Once the liquid is mostly drained, slice the tofu into medium-sized strips and lay out flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Take the tofu out, flipping over each individual piece, and bake again for another 15 minutes.
Once rice is cooked, layer into a lunch container with steamed vegetables and tofu. Place the cheese slices and nuts to the side, or mix with rice and tofu. You can add condiments like soy sauce or hoisin sauce.
For all the vegetarians, this lunch box is probably the easiest to make. All you will need is lettuce to wrap. Every other ingredient can be customized depending on whatever vegetables you prefer or have at home.
1 quarter English cucumber
½ cup baby carrots
8 slices of red, yellow, or orange pepper
½ cup alfalfa sprouts
2 leaves of romaine or iceberg lettuce
½ cup of hummus (or your favourite vegetable dip)
¼ cup nuts
6 slices of any cheese
Rinse all vegetables and both leaves of lettuce. Place the lettuce flat on a clean surface. Thinly slice tomato. Spread half of the hummus onto each piece of lettuce and portion out alfalfa on top. Add pepper and tomato, then roll the lettuce into a small wrap.
Slice the cucumber and cheese into small pieces and slide onto toothpick in layers. Make as much or as little of these as you like. Assemble the mini skewers and lettuce wraps into your lunch container, along with the baby carrots and nuts.
Photography by Sydney Upright.