Last week, the Evening Standard reported that more than half of Londoners admit to eating at their desk at lunchtime, the highest number of any region in the UK. The research, commissioned by Deliveroo, also revealed that Londoners take an average of just 33 minutes for lunch. Taking a proper break is proven to make you healthier and more productive, so to inspire you to get away from your desk, here are nine ways to live the foodie life on your lunch break.
Seek out street food – If you usually pack yourself a healthy lunch, why not reward yourself with a street food feast? Try Manchester’s Piccadilly street food market or one of the excellent KERB markets in London.
Pack a picnic – On those rare sunny days, find a park or a bench and soak up the rays while you have lunch. Jamie Oliver has some great ideas for picnic lunches, from spring onion tart to spiced beef empanadas. You can invite your office bestie to join you, or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
Try a top restaurant for half the price – It’s no secret that many of the UK’s top restaurants offer great value set lunch menus. It’s a good way to try somewhere special without blowing the budget or committing to a lengthy tasting menu. Hot Dinners has a handy round-up of restaurants offering prix fixe lunches, including restaurants like Fera at Claridge’s, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Murano, and Frenchie.
Make a meal plan – It’s easy to start the week with good intentions and then descend into grab-and-go lunches and unplanned takeaways. If you take a few minutes on your Monday lunch break to plan meals for the week ahead, you could save cash, eat healthier and cut down on your shopping trips. If you’re stuck for inspiration, treat yourself to a copy of Delicious magazine or browse for recipes on BBC Good Food and Buzzfeed.
Organise a pot luck lunch – Challenge some foodie colleagues to cook and bring in a dish each and host an office ‘pot luck’ lunch. It’s a great way to bond with your team and show off your cooking skills!
Learn something new – Some UK cookery schools offer lunchtime classes, so why not brush up on your knife skills or tackle a new cuisine? At London’s L’Atelier des Chefs, they run speedy 30-minute classes where you can master the perfect flat iron steak or pad Thai, and then eat what you’ve cooked before heading back to the office.
Plan a cookbook cook-off – We’ve all got them, those beautiful cookbooks that we love but never actually use. You don’t have to go full on Julie & Julia and cook your way through the whole book, but why not use your lunch hour to bookmark some recipes you’d love to try? Better yet, pick three courses and plan a proper, grown-up dinner party.
Make reservations – If you know you’ve got a birthday or an anniversary coming up, use your lunch hour to find and book somewhere special. It sounds like common sense but top restaurants book up months in advance so it’s worth getting organised. No special occasion? No problem. Surprise your other half with a mid-week dinner date or bag a table at a local gastropub for Sunday lunch with friends. Your social life sorted in under 60 minutes!
Visit food shops for recipe ideas – If you’ve got a great deli near your office, or perhaps a good butcher or Asian supermarket, have a look around and get inspiration for new recipes. Nowhere ‘foodie’ nearby? Hit the World Foods aisle of your nearest supermarket and get creative – that curry paste or jar of pickles could be the base for your new favourite dish.
Have you got any top tips for making the most of your lunch break? Let us know in the comments or via twitter.