Open up the Green Lunch Box this January

Some of the sandwich ideas from Becky Alexander's The Green Lunch Box.

Some of the sandwich ideas from Becky Alexander's The Green Lunch Box. - Credit: Issy Croker

There is a lot of noise in January about what to eat and not eat – go vegan, stop drinking alcohol, lose weight… I prefer to think about all the delicious things that we can eat!

As well as being your food columnist here, I write food books. My new publication, The Green Lunch Box, is out next week and I have, very kindly, been allowed to tell you about it here.

The idea behind it came from my own life. I used to spend a lot of time and money buying lunch from take-out places – but I got bored of the same choices on rotation, the queuing and the single-use packaging. I was also annoyed by the cost – they charge so much for boring soup and baguettes that you can make yourself for less.

So I started to make my own lunches, at least a few times a week. I now work mostly at home, like so many of us, and lunch needs to be a highlight of the day and fuel you for the afternoon ahead. The Green Lunch Box contains 60 ideas for lunches you can take to work or eat at home. So if you tend to eat the same sandwich, or buy the same plastic pot salad from M&S all the time, here are some new ideas for you.

Everything in the book is vegetarian and/or vegan so if you are one of the millions in the UK cutting back on your meat eating, but are stuck eating falafel, cheese and hummus at lunch, you will find loads of inspiration here. You might be not sure about cutting out meat for all your evening meals, but lunchtime might seem easier. You only have to suit yourself for a start! It’s easy to reduce the amount of plastic packets of chicken bits and processed ham you buy if you have delicious alternatives.

The Green Lunch Box by Becky Alexander.

The Green Lunch Box by Becky Alexander. - Credit: Issy Croker

The Green Lunch Box has soups, salads, hotpots, sandwiches and snacks. Some are very quick to prep in the morning, others take a bit more time, like the soups and hotpots. To give you a taste, soups include tomato, pepper and butterbean and spicy black bean with dark chocolate. Sandwich filings include ‘chuna’ with sweetcorn, No-sesame hummus and beetroot, crumbly cheese and lime bagels. Or how about broad bean and pea ‘guacamole’ for an alternative to avo on toast?

Hotpots take a bit more prep at the weekend but you can freeze them all for future lunches. How about a black lentil dahl, easy aubergine caponata, red bean and sweetcorn chilli or a versatile veg box bake that you can add to salads, sandwiches or eat on its own? Every lunch has plant protein in it, so you won’t feel starving in the afternoon.

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There are also lots of ideas for using leftovers (or planning for more leftovers!) such as Monday leftovers lunch. I’ve used lots of ingredients you will get in cans, so you can plan ahead and buy cheaply, and also refill shops – we have Eat Wholefoods and Refill Pantry here in St Albans, which are great if you want small quantities of something to see if you like it. I have a page of ideas for Mix and Match Sandwiches and Build your own Salad, so you can work with what you have or try something new.

The snacks chapter includes spicy nuts and seeds to use up those slightly soft nuts you might have in the cupboard. Blackberry, banana and lemon buns use up bananas and you can swap blackberries for any other berry or dried fruit. Sweet and salty popcorn is very easy to make and much much cheaper than the bags of ready-made you can buy.

I am sure you will find lots of new ideas for lunch in here, so why not make a few easy changes this January?

The Green Lunch Box is for sale in Books on the Hill and Waterstones, and online at Amazon, Waterstones, Blackwell’s and Hive. Illustrations Sally Caulwell. Photography Issy Croker. Published by Laurence King/Orion Books. £14.99. Go to for free recipes from the book.