Batch cooking for lunchboxes

Fancy some great home-cooked ideas for packed lunches?
Pasta salad in a lunchbox

As well as being more cost effective than buying lunch, packing up your own keeps you in complete control of your lunchtime ProPoints® values - though how do you keep things interesting?


Variety is the key
Varying the contents of your lunchbox will help keep you satisfied, so having ready-made options in the freezer and fridge will help provide that variety. If you plan some batch cooking, maybe just one day a month, you can stash away goodies to keep you going for lots of delicious lunches.

Before you start, make sure you have all the gear for freezing and storing individual portions - suitable containers, freezer wrap and freezer bags.

Hatching a plan for batching
Browse the recipes on this site, and flick through Weight Watchers magazines and cook books. Select recipes that are suitable for freezing, easy to separate into portions and relatively non-fuss to eat for lunch.

Make double quantities of soups, cook a couple of fritattas, and bake sweet or savoury muffins for a treat. Wrap each portion individually and label with a description and the ProPoints value. Any fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, fresh sandwiches or rolls can be added to your lunchbox in the morning.

Pasta and vegetable fritatta
1. Cook 100g dried pasta shapes in boiling, salted water for 10-12 minutes or until just tender.
2. Meanwhile, spray a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and stir-fry 1 finely chopped onion, 1 chopped red capsicum and 1 chopped zucchini for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the drained pasta.
3. Beat together 4 medium eggs and 100g quark (low-fat soft cheese) flavoured with garlic & herbs. Add 2 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs, the vegetables and pasta. Season.
4. Spray a 23cm (9 inch) round baking dish with cooking spray. Add the pasta mixture. Bake in the oven at 190°C for 20-25 minutes, until set and golden. Cool, slice into 6 wedges, then wrap and freeze.
6 serves = 3 ProPoints values per serve
4 serves = 5 ProPoints values per serve

Soups
Try some of these soups that are suitable to freeze:

Spicy chicken salad
1. Mix 150g low-fat plain yoghurt, 1½ tbs curry powder and 1 tbs chopped coriander together in a glass or plastic bowl. Add 8 skinless chicken breast fillets, stirring to coat. Cover, chill and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook 300g basmati rice in lightly salted boiling water with 1 vegetable stock cube until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool quickly. Add 1 large grated carrot, 2 chopped capsicum (1 red, 1 yellow) and 1 finely chopped green chilli.
3. Grill the chicken breasts for about 6 minutes on each side, until thoroughly cooked. Cool, then pack 1 chicken breast and 1 portion of salad in separate containers. Freeze.
Serves 8.
9 ProPoints values per serve

Muffins
For scrumptious muffins, here’s three delicious recipe that’s perfect for a packed lunch treat.

Bulk it out
Remember, Filling & Healthy Foods are the key to successful weight loss - they will keep you feeling satisfied so that you don’t feel hungry or deprived. All these ideas focus on Filling & Healthy foods, though do pack out your lunch box with extra fresh fruit and vegetables to fill up the gaps.