Lockdown has some of us feeling like a 1950s housewife - only with a full-time job and without the valium - with all the relentless food prep for a pretty ungrateful bunch. For others, it’s a harsh reality check at the realisation of how much money you throw into a financial black hole from buying your lunch most days...
With many cupboards falling on reserves and inspiration at an all-time low, it can be hard to see your way past a bowl of porridge (which is, tbh, also a great option). If you’re losing the plot at having to make a decent lunch each day, we're here to help with these lockdown ideas for every day of the week.
MONDAY: Cookbook author Ashia Ismail-Singer’s masala baked beans
“A perfect meal, quick and easy and a great way to add a little spice to your baked beans. Once you have tried this recipe you won’t want to eat baked beans any other way.”
Prep time 10 mins | Cooking time 10 mins
1 onion, diced
400g can baked beans
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp chilli powder
1⁄2 tsp ground coriander
1⁄4 tsp ground cumin
1⁄2 clove garlic, crushed ground black pepper
Fry the onion until soft but not browned, and add the baked beans.
Stir, then add salt and all the spices and cook over a low heat.
Serve with fried eggs and toasted bread of your choice, but also roti (I love using the Malaysian toaster roti that you can pop in the toaster from frozen - available in supermarkets).
This recipe is from Ashia's book My Indian Kitchen, published by Potton & Burton and available to buy here.
TUESDAY: Braveface founder Katherine Douglas’ mood-enhancing salad
“I’ve loved throwing this salad together for lunch during lockdown as it contains three mood enhancing foods recommended by our resident naturopath, Stephanie Gobbo. Turmeric supports both serotonin and dopamine release which improves mental wellbeing, spinach is rich in magnesium which helps to reduce anxiety and supports restorative sleep, and walnuts are rich in essential fatty acids which can have anti-inflammatory effects on the brain during times of stress. Many things are out of our control right now so making food choices that can impact how I feel is something I am trying to focus on during these uncertain times.”
4 cups chopped golden kūmara
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons maple syrup
¾ cup toasted walnuts
120g baby spinach, chopped
½ cup olives
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped basil
Juice of one lemon
A good splash of extra virgin olive oil
Thinly sliced red chilli for garnish
Heat the oven to 190 °C
Slice the kūmara into 1cm thick rounds then into quarters. Drizzle with olive oil and mix well with the turmeric. Bake around 35 mins until soft then allow to cool slightly.
Thinly slice the shallot and mix in a small bowl with the vinegar and maple syrup; put in the fridge and leave to pickle.
On a serving platter mix the spinach with half the basil and parsley, then top with the kūmara, olives, avocado, toasted walnuts and pickle.
Squeeze the lemon over the top and a drizzle of olive oil, the remaining herbs and some sliced red chilli.
WEDNESDAY: Rebecca Wadey’s frittata
“I lived in a tiny town in the Coromandel last year and got really good at making meals that appeared to be fresh but were mostly just canned foods and vegetables that lasted a long time or were fine to eat when limp.
Amongst my repertoire were a heavily bastardised version of Nadia Lim’s Turkish eggs that Stacy Gregg had made a large group of us over the 2019/2020 summer holidaying on Motutapu Island (a great pre-lockdown cooking warmup) and Alison Roman’s bean stew that we ate often once we realised GoodFor store could deliver anywhere (both dishes always served with Jamie Oliver’s flatbread).
But my general lunch staple was a green frittata that uses any wilted greens lying in the fridge that are generally ignored in any vege box delivery (I’m talking silverbeet, chard, spinach, collard greens, kale). I saute onion and garlic in a decent amount of olive oil, maybe add some cumin or coriander seeds to be real fancy, then thinly slice the greens and add to the pan with a good pinch of salt. Meanwhile, fry some halloumi slices in a separate pan and set aside (if you don’t have halloumi any type of cheese, including a mouldy edge of parmesan also works fine).
Once the greens and onion are nicely soft, stir them through a bowl of whisked eggs (maybe 1-2 per person you’re feeding) and then add back to the hot pan (add a glug of oil to the bottom first).
Top with the cheese and put the lid on until the bottom is well cooked and the top is just set. I like to eat mine with a yummy relish or hot sauce. My kids slather it in tomato sauce, ugh.”
THURSDAY: Unna Burch of The Forest Cantina’s honey-dipped bagels
“One of my most favourite things to eat is a freshly baked chewy bagel. To get that classic chewiness, the bagel dough is dropped into boiling water before baking – and I have to tell you, the addition of honey to the water makes all the difference. The honey not only adds to the chewiness, but gives the bagels a slight sweetness and beautiful aroma. But if you can’t bring yourself to use the honey, just leave it out. These bagels are best eaten the day they are made, but are great the next day toasted. They also freeze well, if you're making a double batch.”
Time: 20 minutes preparation; 2¼ hours proving; 20 minutes cooking | Serves: 6 large bagels
1¼ cups lukewarm water
4-4½ cups strong bread flour*
3 tablespoons fair trade sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (I use the Edmonds brand)
3 litres (12 cups) water
¾ cup honey
Flaky sea salt
2 tablespoons each of sesame seeds and poppy seeds
To serve (optional)
Wood-smoked salmon (I use Regal Salmon)
Sliced red onions
To begin, combine the water and 4 cups of the flour, sugar, canola oil and yeast in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. I like to mix on low speed using the dough hook until the mixture has come together nicely. This takes about 4 minutes (or you can do this step by hand), adding the extra ½ cup flour little by little if the dough is still really sticky (every flour is slightly different). Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and finish kneading by hand for a full 10-12 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a damp clean tea towel, and let it rise for 2 hours in a warm spot or until it has doubled in size.
Punch the dough down, and then to get even-sized bagels, weigh the dough. Divide that total amount by 6 and then weigh each portion to the correct size (mine were around 73g/2.6oz each). Or if you do not own scales, you can eyeball 6 even portions. Roll each piece of dough into a sausage shape about 14cm (5.5") long. Join the ends to form a circle. I do this by rolling the two ends back and forth on the workbench. Repeat with the remaining dough, and let the bagels prove again on a lightly floured surface for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Bring 3 litres of water (12 cups) to the boil in a large pot with the honey (if using). Boil the bagels 3 at a time for 1 minute per side. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and place them on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle tops of the wet bagels with flaky sea salt and the sesame and poppy seeds. Bake in the preheated oven until the bagels begin to brown, which takes 15-20 minutes.
Cool, split and toast if desired. I top mine with a spread of cream cheese, salmon, fried capers, sliced red onions and dill.
*The packaging information on the flour should indicate if it is suitable for bread making.
**To fry capers, pat dry on a paper towel to remove excess liquid. Fry over a medium/high heat in olive oil until they pop and start to crisp up. Drain on paper towels.
This recipe is from Unna’s book The Forest Cantina Home cookbook - buy a PDF of the cookbook for more ideas, here.
FRIDAY: Zoe’s TikTok wrap
“At some point last year, the “magic wrap” took over my TikTok feed as yet another helpful trend to try at home. This time, I actually did. I mean, a wrap is a wrap - you put random ingredients in it and you wrap it up; it’s simple enough even for me - but this version offered up a ‘new’ way to create one. It’s not hugely inventive, but it does help with the experimentation when you’re fresh out of ideas. It’s easy and it’s yum! There are thousands of wrap ‘recipe’ ideas on TikTok, but Cooking with Ayeh has some tasty options worth trying (and lots of other helpful recipe ideas too!)."
SATURDAY: Jess Daniell of Jess’ Underground Kitchen's beetroot, lentil and feta salad
“This yummy salad is quick to prepare and you can make enough for the whole household to eat when their zoom schedules allow. Plus, many of the ingredients have a long fridge or cupboard life.”
Makes 4-6 serves | Takes 50 minutes
Gluten-free | Dairy-free
800g small - medium beetroots
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup green Puy lentils
1 orange, juiced
¼ red cabbage, finely sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
Handful Italian parsley leaves
Handful purple basil leaves
100g feta, crumbled
Salt & pepper
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
Peel beetroot and cut into quarters. Drizzle over vinegar, honey and half the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, or until tender.
Cook lentils according to packet instructions. Drain and allow to cool slightly. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining oil and the orange juice. Toss well to coat.
To the dressed lentils, add the cooked beetroot, red cabbage, radishes and red onion. Top with parsley, basil and crumbled feta.
Tip: Your lentils will cook faster if you don’t add salt to the water. Season the lentils after cooking instead.
SUNDAY: Katherine Lowe’s 2-ingredient flatbreads
“I like to make lockdown meals feel special so I don't feel too dejected about not being able to grab takeout or a nice meal out. Usually I like to opt for something simple, but with nice ingredients - a fresh sourdough baguette is delicious split open, slathered in butter and filled with serrano and swiss cheese, or maybe a bit of egg salad and rocket.
That being said, I think a hot lunch feels like the ultimate fancy treat - even just pasta tossed in EVOO, garlic, chilli, lemon, parmesan and parsley seems like a bit of luxury. Fried rice with last night's leftover rice is also great. One other thing I have been doing a lot this lockdown is making super easy 2-ingredient flatbreads.
Mix/knead 2 cups of self-raising flour (you can make this with plain flour: just add 2 tsp of baking powder to every cup of plain flour), and 1 cup of plain yoghurt into a ball. (I think it would even work with sour cream if you don't have yoghurt).
Rest under a tea towel for 20 mins. Then divide into 8 portions and roll into flatbreads. Heat olive oil/ghee/some kind of fat in a pan to high, fry each flatbread individually - flip when bubbles appear/use your intuition.
They freeze well, and are so handy - make them into wraps, use as pizza bases, dip into hummus, mop up sauces... Happy cheffing!"