Packed lunches that pack a punch


FIND A PULSE Heart healthy, beans and peas provide protein and fibre, as well as a significant source of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, folate and magnesium.

The Cabots

Making your own lunch means you’ll have greater control over two important issues: cost and quality. In today’s high-cost world, it makes sense to prepare a lunch at home to take into work. And it doesn’t have to be a boring old hang sandwich – why not try something a little different and take your lunchtime feed to a new level. Take pride in it. Set trends. People are often scared of trying something new… until they do! (I know, it’s like that for me too.)
Here are two tasty meal lunches you can prepare quickly and pack for delicious, nutritious work or school lunches – and with all their plant-based protein, they’ll keep whoever eats them going ’til their evening meal. Go on, give them a go –  think of them as small, confidence-building footsteps towards taking in more than a limp cheese roll or an overpriced shop-bought sandwich full of additives and unnecessary calories.
Spicy chickpeas
Makes two lunches

This recipe uses harissa, a flavoursome red-chilli-pepper spice mix from North Africa, and wholesome and nutritious chickpeas. This dish is really good for you, and really filling. Tasty and fresh, everyone will want a bite. The following can be eaten warm immediately, or let cool and popped into a reusable lunch container.

What you need
>  1 400g tin chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
>  2 tbsp harissa paste
>  ½ red onion thinly sliced
>  1 courgette, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
>  10 cherry tomatoes
>  2 tbsp good olive oil
>  Juice of half a lemon
>  Some chopped parsley or coriander
>  Seasoning
>  Yoghurt, to serve

What you do
Fry the onion and courgette in the olive oil for five minutes, stirring and softening (slowly does it!). Add in the chickpeas, harissa and tomatoes, stir-cook for four minutes until the tomatoes are soft but not broken or smashed. You may need to add a splash of water. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, season and sprinkle your herb of choice on top. Serve with or pack some natural yoghurt as an accompaniment.

Black bean bowl
Makes two lunches
Bean bowls are readily available nowadays in every trendy café and hipster haunt – and for a reason. They use good, natural ingredients, they are relatively simple to produce and they taste great. This Californian style of cooking is relatively new to us here in Ireland, but isn’t that even more reason to give it a go?
This recipe uses black beans, which are ‘on trend’ now, but you can substitute for whatever beans you find in the cupboards – red kidney beans, borlotti beans, whatever you have. Meat lovers can simply add some shredded leftovers to this dish.

What you need
>  1 400g tin black beans (drained, rinsed)
>  ¾ white onion (finely chopped)
>  1 large garlic clove (peeled, finely chopped)
>  1 tbsp good olive oil
>  ¼ tsp each of cumin
>  Smoked paprika
>  Cayenne pepper
>  1 tbsp tomato purée
>  Seasoning

What you do
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, then fry the onion with a pinch of salt for five minutes or until soft and just turning brown. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add the spices, stir cook for a minute or so, then add the tomato purée and stir cook for one minute. Add your beans and a good splash of water, bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened up a bit. Taste and season to your liking.
Serve with rice, grated cheese, sour cream and avocado. Tomato salsa also goes great with this – simply mix up 150g cherry tomatoes (quartered), a quarter of a white onion (finely chopped) and a tablespoon of fresh coriander, chopped. If you fancy some crunch, serve with some shredded lettuce too. Like the earlier recipe, this can be eaten warm immediately, or packed into reusable containers for a lunch on the go.


The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.