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Recipes: Brown Bag It and Save

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Although there are good lunchtime deals on offer these days, it is still a fact that packing your own lunch will save you money; even my cat knows that.

By spending €2 on a morning coffee and €5 on lunch, you could potentially spend €1,800 a year. That’s €9,000 over five years and a possible €100,000 over a working lifetime. Although a packed lunch isn’t free, your bill could be halved by brown bagging it and these savings could go towards a swanky holiday or loads of pints if you’re that way inclined.

Although this fiscal fact may be true, the reality of making your own lunch can be boring, daunting or just plain disheartening when you pull out a soggy limp sandwich. This week I will be sharing some quick, healthy and very tasty lunchtime options that won’t leave you feeling empty and sad. These two recipes only take 10 minutes to prepare.

Monday: Couscous with beetroot, spinach & goat’s cheese (10 minutes)


  • zest and juice 1 large orange
  • 140g cous cous
  • 25g walnut pieces
  • 85g firm goat’s cheese, crumbled
  • 6 dried apricots , roughly chopped
  • 4 small cooked beetroot, quartered
  • 2 handfuls spinach leaves


  1. Put the orange zest, juice and 100ml water in a small pan and bring to the boil.
  2. Place the couscous in a bowl and pour the hot liquid over. Mix well, then cover and leave to absorb for 5 minutes. Fluff up the grains with a fork, then add the walnuts, cheese, apricots, beetroot and seasoning.
  3. Mix in the oil and lemon juice and toss well.
  4. Pack in two sealed containers; with the spinach placed on top so it doesn’t go soggy. When ready to eat, toss the spinach through.

You can also use bulgar wheat with this recipe which will take 15 minutes longer.

Tuesday: Mixed bean and tarragon soup (10 minutes).


  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g mixed beans
  • 1 cup hot vegetable stock
  • Chopped tarragon
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Place the spring onion, crushed clove of garlic, beans in a saucepan and pour over a cup of hot stock and bring to the boil.
  2. Season generously with salt, black pepper and add the chopped tarragon and lemon juice. Turn the heat down so that the soup simmers for 10 minutes. Leave to cool, then seal. The soup can be eaten cold or heated up the next day.

Check out some more tasty lunchtime options tomorrow.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I’m trying to get organised and bring lunches in with me to save a bit of money but also because I’m getting so bored with the stuff in the local shop, that I end up buying really unhealthy food.

  2. You’re right, it’s much cheaper to bring your own. Too often, it’s much nicer too, especially if you don’t work in town. I tend to be lazy in the morning so when I can, I make bigger quantities of whatever we’re having for dinner and have the leftovers the next day! Thanks for the recipes.

  3. I find making your own tends to be healthier because you know exactly what has gone into it and you don’t have the proverbial sandwich maker who always gives far more than you want even when you specify; I know it’s a bad thing to complain about but it’s annoying! Leftovers are a winner too, especially Sunday roast leftovers.