I mostly work from home which means that I spend most of the day home alone, sitting by my computer. This, of course, is soon about to change into spending the day (mostly) at home, taking care of a newborn. Although making something to eat can be a nice distraction, I mostly don’t feel like putting much effort into cooking something just for me. And, as I already eat bread for breakfast, I really don’t feel like having another bread meal. Call me spoiled but I’m used to having two warm meals a day!
The easiest solution to this want-warm-lunch-do-not-want-to-cook problem is to make sure that there’s some leftovers from dinner. However, this is not always the case so I have some backup options that I’d like to share with you, my readers! Here’s my top 5 of quick and tasty lunches. The ingredients are given for one person but can be easily doubled or tripled if you wish to cook for several people.
1. Oatmeal porridge
You’ll need: 1 part oatmeal, 1 part milk, 1 part water, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar. Some honey, jam or butter for serving.
Oatmeal porridge is great in many ways: it keeps you sated for a long time, it’s packed with fibre, vitamins & minerals and, above all, it’s delicious!
Mix together equal parts of milk and water (I use one of my smallest glasses to measure, approx. 170 ml) in a small pot and put on medium high heat. Mix in the oatmeal, salt and sugar and stir from time to time until the porridge starts boiling. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes while stirring a bit more often, then remove the pot from heat, cover the pot, and let the porridge rest for 5-10 minutes. Put in a bowl, add some honey, jam or butter (all taste good but honey is my favorite) and enjoy!
2. Semolina porridge
You’ll need: 200 ml water, 300 ml milk, 4 heaped tablespoons semolina, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of sugar. Cinnamon & sugar or some jam for serving.
Although it’s not as filling as oatmeal porridge, semolina porridge is my weakness because it’s what my great granny used to cook for me when I was little. In Germany snack-size packages of ready-made semolina porridge (grießbrei) can be bought in every supermarket but, good as they can be, they can’t compete with the real thing!
Mix together water and milk, add salt and sugar in a cooking pot, then take a whisk (a spoon won’t do!) and slowly mix in the semolina – be careful as it lumps easily and the lumps are almost impossible to get rid of. Then again, I find the occasional lump quite tasty so don’t worry if it’s not perfect! Put on a medium high heat and whisk the porridge from time to time while it brings to a boil. Continue whisking slowly (but non-stop) for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and let the porridge rest for a few minutes. Put in a bowl and add the topping of your choice.
3. Dutch Baby Pancake
You’ll need: 2 eggs, 64 grams of flour (1/2 cup), 120 ml of milk (1/2 cup), a pinch of salt, a pinch of nutmeg, approx. 2 tablespoons butter. Fruit or berries and some confectioner’s sugar for topping.
I love pancakes but I’m often much too lazy to stand by the oven and fry them one by one. So when I saw a dutch baby pancake (also called Bismarck pancake or popover) on a TV show once I immediately looked up the recipe. You can easily double or triple the ingredients to cook a nice weekend breakfast for several people.
Take an oven-proof pan (if you don’t have one a pie or cake form will do just as well), put the butter on it and place the pan in the oven turning the heat up to 220 degrees Celsius. While the oven heats up and the butter melts, prepare the batter: whisk together the eggs, flour, milk, a pinch of salt and nutmeg (optionally you can add some cinnamon as well). Pour batter into the pan over the melted butter and place it back in the oven for approx. 10-15 minutes. The pancake is done when it becomes golden and fluffs up. While the pancake is in the oven, prepare the topping: in the summer you can take fresh berries (e.g., raspberries, blueberries) mixed with a bit of lemon juice, in the winter you can sautee some thinly sliced apples/pears/bananas in a pan until soft. When the pancake is done move it to a large plate, cover with the topping of your choice, sprinkle with some confectioner’s sugar and roll up the sides.
4. Quick soup
You’ll need: 500 ml water, a stock cube, soup noodles, some frozen veggies, preferably in small pieces
I’m a big fan of soups but the instant soups that come in packages are definitely something I don’t enjoy (and they’re not that healthy anyway). Good news is that it doesn’t take much longer to cook a veggie soup yourself and you’ll know exactly what’s in it!
Boil around half a liter of water and add a stock cube of your choice. Throw in the frozen vegetables, cook for around 5 minutes, then add the soup noodles and cook another 5 minutes or until the vegetables and the noodles are done. I do this soup in two ways: German-style with frozen soup vegetables and egg noodles or Asian-style with frozen wok vegetables, rice noodles and some lime leaves or lemongrass.
You’ll need: a ripe banana, a handful of berries, enough milk to cover the fruit & berries (approx. 200 – 300 ml)
Now, this doesn’t strictly qualify as a warm, neither is it a proper meal. But there are times when you’re not that hungry or just feel like a little treat and smoothies are a great option. Here’s the recipe for my current favorite.
Peel the banana, cut it in smaller pieces and place into a blender (or a beaker if you’re using a hand blender as I do). Add around a handful of mixed berries – I use a frozen red berry mix that contains strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and currants. Pour over enough milk to cover the banana and the berries and blend for a minute or two until the ingredients are smooth. Done! Optionally you can replace a part of the milk with Greek yogurt.
P.S. The current runner-up candidate for my favorite smoothie is made from two very ripe bananas, some oatmeal, milk and a dash of cinnamon.
These are my five options, I’d be happy to hear more suggestions and ideas from you in the comments!