Now that I have a full-time job I've realised that 1) people will look at you really weirdly if you 'cook' at work 2) you can actually make some pretty damn good food with just a microwave and a freezer.
For some reason I feel pretty adverse to bringing in leftovers for lunch most of the time. I have a hard time remembering anything in the morning and hate the thought of food spilling in my bike bag on the journey to work (not really an excuse, I know I know). I don't like sandwiches very much and hot food for lunch is nice. So I thought to myself, what foods have a long shelf-life or can be stored in the freezer and can be microwaved or 'cooked' in a toaster? Also, what foods are going to take a minimum amount of time (under 5 minutes) to cook? I wanted healthy-ish food (i.e., not Iceland microwave meals) and food that would fill me up. And so the cooking-at-work journey began.
By the way, I use the word 'cooking' very loosely to refer to the preparation of meals by combining and heating ingredients. Yes. I think that's a pretty good definition. There's little if any chopping and very little cleaning up.
Cooking at work is tricky for a bunch of reasons. The kitchen is small. There are no sharp knives. There are no cutting boards. There is one tiny fridge for a bunch of people. There may/may not be a freezer, toaster, or microwave. It's weird to do anything but toast a pancake or reheat leftovers, and people don't know what to think of you. Despite all this though, I think you should give it a go.
I'm going to do a few posts about cooking at work, but, by far, the most versatile ingredient was...
I think I ate couscous every day for lunch for about 6 months before I couldn't take it anymore.
Not just plain couscous though, you jokers. You can put anything on couscous and make a meal.
First though, and this is important, you need a bowl with a lid. In the Centra below my office there was a plastic Asian noodle bowl with instant thai noodle mix inside. I have used that same bowl for the past year and half. It is the perfect thing for couscous. It looks kind of like this (if you're looking for one):
This bowl can be microwaved, dishwashed, fridgerated. Anything. Forever. And who is going to covet or steal it? No one.
So anyway, you can boil the kettle, pour some couscous in your bowl, and pour hot water over it until the couscous is just submerged. Then quickly cover it with the lid again to keep the steam in and run back to your computer to pretend you haven't started your lunch break yet.
Here is one lovely option to have with your couscous:
1. Kidney beans/white beans/black eyed peas with some cheddar cheese and/or Greek yogurt on top. Salt and pepper.
I keep a couple of tins of beans in a cupboard in the kitchen at all times. They are very handy. I eat half a tin for lunch and stick the other half in the fridge for the next day. A tin of kidney beans costs between £0.30 - £0.50. Cheap and healthy. You can get beans in a spicy tomato sauce as well but I don't recommend it. I think they have quite a lot of salt and sugar in there and tend to have that sketchy tinned taste. I also can't recommend chick peas. They are too dry for eating with couscous in this way (unless you were having them in some sort of jarred curry sauce maybe) and seem too hard. Soft beans are best, I've found. I like to top the beans with a tiny bit of bbq sauce/hot sauce or just some cheese (from a block kept in the fridge) or Greek yogurt (a tub in the fridge). A crisp apple or a couple of tangerines on the side makes sure you're filled up and gets in some extra nutrients.
Along with beans, you'll also find in my cupboard: a box of Maldon sea salt (I love the crunch), a black pepper mill, a bottle of lemon juice, and a bottle of bbq sauce. Being weird is worth it. I promise.
Thanks for reading! Do you cook at work? Any thoughts or ideas? I'll be posting more recipes and ideas each week. Stay tuned...
Posted by Sarah. Posted In : Cooking at Work