My favourite way to get workday lunches sorted for the week ahead is to cook a big pot of soup over the weekend (usually on Sunday, hence ‘Soup Sunday’ being a regular post around here) and freeze the extra serves in individual containers. If you find yourself falling into the buying lunch out everyday trap, setting aside some time on the weekend to get ahead can be an easy way to feel more in control during the week. You’ll know exactly what is going into your food, you’ll probably eat a lot healthier and you’ll save yourself a heap of money too!
If you want to give this a go, remember to stick some labels on the front so that you know what’s in the container and you don’t end up with UFOs (unidentified frozen objects - most soups look pretty similar when they are frozen!) because there’s nothing worse than your cooking efforts going to waste when you finally do that once a year freezer cleanout and have to throw out containers of food that you can’t quite figure out the contents of. To save your efforts getting poured down the drain, add the date to your labels so you can eat the meals while they’re at their best. Most soups will last 2-3 months in the freezer, so you can add a use by or just put the date of cooking, whatever works best for you. We go through our freezer meals pretty quickly, so I just put the date of cooking.
Whenever I make soup I tend to make a double batch so there are lots of extra serves to stash in the freezer, therefore the recipe below is already doubled – feel free to make half a batch if you just want a smaller pot, but I highly recommend making the full batch so that you can stash some lunches for later as well. There’s something satisfying about having healthy, home-cooked meals that are easy to grab as you walk out the door on the way to work!
Vegetable, risoni & bacon soup
2Tbsp olive oil
250g shortcut lean bacon, diced
2 onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
4 carrots, diced
2 parsnips, diced (or 400g potatoes)
8 sticks celery, diced
4 medium zucchini, diced
4 salt reduced beef stock cubes
2.5L boiling water
800g tin diced tomatoes
2/3C risoni pasta (uncooked)
2/3C chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add bacon, onion and garlic and fry for 5 minutes until softened. Add carrots, parsnip, celery and zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes.
2. Add stock cubes, water and tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil and lower heat to a simmer. Leave soup to simmer for 30-40 minutes, until vegetables are almost cooked.
3. Add risoni and cook for another 12 minutes, stirring a few times to stop risoni sticking to the bottom of the pot.
4. Serve in bowls topped with parsley. Split any uneaten serves into plastic containers, label and date, freeze and enjoy for lunches within 2-3 months.
Nutrition info (per serve) - 1026kJ, 7.1g fat (1.5g saturated), 12.7g protein, 28.1g carbohydrates (13.1g sugars), 887mg sodium, 8.3g fibre, 3.9 vegetable serves. Cost = $2.53.
Why should you eat this? It’s high in fibre, low in kilojoules & fat, budget & freezer friendly and packed with a rainbow of vegetables to give you lots of nutritional bang for your buck. Oh, and you don’t need to settle for overpriced, greasy takeaway for lunches later in the week!
How do you like to get a start on workday lunches over the weekend? Share your tips in the comments below.