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Whether you’re packing school lunches for a child, or trying to be frugal during the work-week along with our spouse or other loved one, making gourmet weekday lunches for 2 is much easier and more satisfying than you may think.

Who isn’t tired of the typical ham sandwich or PBJ with fruit and chips thrown in as an afterthought? No wonder office workers spend so much on junk food and fall into unhealthy habits---most “box” lunches are truly boring and unsatisfying! And their microwavable meal counterparts are both expensive and almost uniformly bland.

When making gourmet weekday lunches for two, you should start out by following the general guidelines and tips for cooking for two, such as thinking ahead for how to re-use extras and using your freezer to help stretch portions out over several days. Conventional weekday lunch premises should also be kept in mind, such as making sure to create a meal that’s portable, that keeps for several hours at least, and that requires minimal fuss to open and/or reheat.

For those traditionalists who equate a packed lunch at school or the office with a sandwich, the best way to go gourmet is to use higher quality products. For example, instead of a processed sliced ham sandwich with mayo, why not opt for a Roast Beef Croissant? The latter packs a wonderful texture and flavour punch due to the flaky croissant bread, plus the addition of Gruyere cheese, your favourite mustard, and peppery red onion slices. Another delicious gourmet sandwich option is the Panini Caprice Sandwich. This hearty dish features baguette bread combined with fresh sliced tomato, Mozzarella, avocado and fresh basil. The use of the crusty baguette allows you to make the sandwich well ahead of time without it getting soggy.

If you’re making lunch for yourself plus a child, consider toning down the spice and eliminating a few of the more exotic ingredients for their sandwich version until their palate becomes more acclimated to sophisticated ingredients. Also, if you’re preparing lunch for two people with different appetite levels (e.g. siblings with a significant age gap or a dieter and a non-dieter), you can make two sandwiches and give, for example, one and a half sandwiches to the heartier eater and the half to the lighter diner.


For those who wish to steer completely clear of the lunchtime sandwich stereotype, there are many fantastic options. Why not try the easy to make and absolutely scrumptious Lettuce Wraps? Selecting small portions from the lettuce head allows you to easily plan for two, and the filling that you choose (e.g. spicy ground beef, coleslaw, sliced tomatoes and green onions) can be made in bulk and frozen for later use. Another great main course idea is a personal pizza, such as the Prosciutto Arugula Pizza. More ambitious gourmands will be able to make their own dough, which can also be conveniently frozen to prepare future meals for two. Those less ambitious or more strapped for time can buy a quality, pre-made crust, and then top it with mozzarella, prosciutto and fresh arugula. After baking, all that’s needed for a delectable lunchtime treat is the use of a microwave (or even better, a toaster oven) to warm up the pizza.

As we all know, one dish does not usually a complete lunch make, especially for an active older child or professional whose job involves physical labour. Thus, it’s important to include at least one side item, such as a gourmet salad or pasta dish. My Orecchiette Pasta with Sundried Tomato and Arugula and Beet Salad with Orange Dressing and Grilled Vegetables are both excellent suggestions as they can be easily assembled using recommended cooking for two tools and can be successfully refrigerated or frozen to be enjoyed again at a later date.

Finally, since many doctors recommend and individuals prefer eating several small meals throughout the day, it’s important to pack lunches that provide healthy snacking options. Since workday lunches are almost always eaten away from home, you won’t have access to the many healthy food options available in your kitchen and will thus face the temptation to buy expensive and unhealthy snacks from local vending machines or convenience stores.

Instead, pack raw broccoli, cauliflower and grapes in individual sandwich bags. These healthy treats can be enjoyed even more when accompanied by cubed hard cheeses like Emmental or Fol Epi. In the summertime, berries make for an ideal snack. A creamy ricotta or brie cheese can be served alongside ripe blueberries and raspberries for a fantastic treat. Best of all, these snacking ideas are perfect when cooking for two, as they lend themselves quite well to individual portioning and packaging.

 

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