Before COVID-19 hit, lunchtimes looked very different for most of us. Children ate in school, while adults grabbed a sandwich at their desk or headed out to Pret (or possibly the pub!). However, since lockdown was announced, even after easing some of the restrictions, all that has changed. Families can now spend the entire day at home, coming together for meals, which
means family lunch ideas may be running low now. This probably means you’re trying to serve a “proper” healthy lunch, as well as a sit-down dinner every night. So, if you’re running out of ideas for food that’s nutritious, quick and easy, help is at hand. Our national trainer Jo Underhay has sourced a selection of recipes, to help you dish up daily, family-friendly, mouth-watering meals:
Now I often serve these up on a Monday, if I have any chicken left from the Sunday roast. I’ve always been a stickler for using up leftovers, but I think most of us are now waging a war on food waste. Those empty shelves at the start of the pandemic were certainly scary. But they did inspire a lot of people to be more creative with their cooking. And to appreciate everything that did manage to make its way onto their plate!
If you’re looking for family lunch ideas, this budget-friendly recipe from BBC Good Food takes just ten minutes to prep and six to cook. So, it’s perfect if you’re trying to juggle working from home with your ‘chef’ duties. The quantities suggested serve two, but they are easy enough to increase if lunch needs to be a full-on family affair. You’ll be pleased to hear there aren’t any complicated processes to worry about either. You basically layer your ingredients, make a tortilla “sandwich”, then cook both sides in a non-stick frying pan. I think minimum effort for maximum taste is always a winning combination, especially when time is tight.
All you need to cook this, in terms of appliances, is a hob. I’m a huge fan of induction hobs, and I find our Caple Sense C901i is so simple to use. Its ‘pan move’ function allows you to switch your cooking pan from one zone to another. This hob will automatically pick up the selected settings from the zone the pan has been moved from. So, there’s no need to fuss with any settings or controls! Thanks to functions like a child safety lock, residual heat indicators and automatic safety shut-off, this hob is ideal for family living. I really love the minimalist look, too.
Top tip: This is a very forgiving chicken quesadilla recipe that allows you to successfully adapt with whatever is in your fridge. You can mix and match the cheeses you use, for example, and even substitute the salsa with ketchup and/or mayonnaise.
Soup probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you’re searching for speedy family lunch ideas – unless it comes in a tin! But there are plenty of ‘from scratch’ versions out there that are worth the extra time and effort. I must admit one of my favourites is Jamie Oliver’s Papa Al Pomodoro Soup. It’s a great store-cupboard meal – and a brilliant way to make use of any stale bread hanging around. Sweet tomatoes, basil and olive oil are always a winning combination, I think. This recipe takes just 20 minutes to cook, so it won’t keep you away your desk for too long either! You basically, slice, stir and simmer on your stove top. Serve with finely grated parmesan, if available. Bellissima!
Potatoes baked in their jackets are one of my favourite, easy, go-to family lunch ideas. Top with cheese or beans and you have a filling, budget-friendly option that most people won’t object to. But the appeal of that pretty basic combination is likely to pall after a while.
So why not ring the changes and serve up a baked sweet potato instead? They’re just as versatile, and packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. This recipe from Waitrose features lots of tasty accompaniments, such as avocados and sour cream, but think of these as options.
It’s fast and easy, making this a top choice for family lunch ideas, but it’s still filled with taste.
You can make your version as simple or as complex as you like. I also enjoy mine topped just with mozzarella, a squeeze of lemon and some seasoning.
Sweet potatoes take a while to cook, so you will have to plan ahead. I’d suggest popping them in the oven when mid-morning ‘break-time’ is over. They’ll need at least an hour, but you can be sat at your desk working while they’re cooking. Unlike home-schooled children, they require little supervision! However many potatoes you need to bake, I know our Sense C2402 67-litre
pyrolytic oven is big enough to cope. It has 14 functions, including fan heat and turbo conventional heat. And there’s no need to worry if your sweet potatoes leak their juice everywhere. The pyrolytic self-cleaning function simply carbonises any baked-on grease and grime into fine ash. All you have to do is wipe it away with a damp cloth – then head back to your Zoom meeting!
Top tip: Make sure you wash – and dry – your sweet potatoes thoroughly before baking. Prick lightly with a fork, and turn over halfwaythrough the baking time.
Microwave chocolate cake
I know this is a feature on healthy family lunch ideas, so the chocolate cake suggestion might come as a bit of a surprise. But in these troubled times, self-care is important too. If a slice of this helps to motivate you through a challenging afternoon of budget reports and/or double physics, so be it!
Remember, baking doesn’t have to be time-consuming. This microwave chocolate cake recipe involves just 5 minutes of prep and takes ten minutes to cook. So it’s eminently do-able in a lunch hour. Our Classic CM120 microwave with grill is perfect for serious cooking, quick snacks and express baking recipes!
As you’d expect from the Classic collection, this microwaves combines functionality with affordability. It’s a practical, versatile appliance that incorporates multi-stage cooking, an auto cook menu and speed cooking.
Top tip: Do wait for the cake to cool until you spread the ganache on top. It will keep for up to three days in an airtight tin although it wouldn’t last this long in my house!
For more useful recipe inspiration, click below to read our Healthy Dinner Ideas for Lockdown blog. Or if you’re self-isolating with your significant other, here are some romantic dinner ideas for two.
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