Summer is here and I’ve got that feeling from school days of being allowed onto the field at lunchtime.

With summer comes a whole new lunch agenda. Winter for me is soup almost every day, or leftovers from big bowls of stew. In summer, though, I need something fresh and light for my lunch, and it can be a bit of a challenge.

With this in mind, I thought I would share some of my favourite lunch ideas from the past few weeks, in case you too are in need of a little inspiration.

I find the key to good, fresh lunches, unlike soups which I can just pull out of the freezer, is to prepare. I tend to spend my Sunday mornings drinking tea, planning meals and getting ingredients ready – cooking big batches of grains and getting salads chopped.

One of the salads that is nice and easy to prepare ahead is Moroccan spiced carrot salad.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe that I made one Sunday and ate for lunch a couple of times with couscous and a good dollop of yoghurt and coriander.

Moroccan spiced carrot saladMoroccan spiced carrot salad

It’s spicy with chillies and paprika, mellow with cumin and sweet with preserved lemons and the sprinkling of sugar. The couscous can be cooked ahead so it’s easy to pack up each night ready for the day ahead. 

Noodle salad

If you described a noodle salad to me I would think it was a disgusting idea. Cold noodles?! Nope. And yet, with a great dressing and some crunchy vegetables, it’s everything I want in a lunch.

noodle salad

This one has peppers, spinach and edamame beans with a dressing of soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin and sweet chilli, all sprinked with a handful of sesame seeds.

Couscous in all its delicious forms

Couscous is the best – you can cook a load on Sunday and add delicious toppings to it all week. You can see it here with tomatoes, cucumber, spinach, avocado and sunflower seeds. Add salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon to bring it all together. Whilst I’m on dressings, I want to recommend these Sauce to Go bottles. They’re ideal for making salads exciting at lunchtime without ending up with a box full of soggy leaves.

couscous with avocado, tomato and sunflower seeds couscous with roasted peppers and spinach

If you have some more time to spare you can add more prepared elements than simply chopped salads – this one has roasted peppers along with spinach and mint. I love slow roasting pieces of pepper, the flavour and texture is amazing, and because of the way they cook down you can get loads of nutrients into one bowlful!

I hope this has inspired you a little bit! What’s your favourite lunch?

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