My (almost) free lunch

For the last two months I haven’t bought a ready made lunch – I take it with me to work. Sounds so obvious as a step towards more delicious, sustainable and affordable food, but I am amazed at the difference it has made. Last year, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I took my lunch to work, so it has been a bit of a change to make.

My working lunch pretty much consists of salad from the garden plus a protein – usually tofu (baked with shoyhu), boiled egg, hommus, nuts or cheese (such as Locheilan Fetta, Red Hill Coolart Soft or Mama Lucia milk cherries), depending on what we have, add some homemade dressing on the side and its done. This is today’s very simple version.


The whole thing costs so little that it’s hard to work out just how much each lunch would cost:
– Salad & herb leaves & tomatoes. I am picking rocket, deer tounge lettuce, pretty amaranthus and some young silverbeet leaves, as well as basil and mint varieties, parsley and some chervil just coming up now – all free (except my time, a fraction of seed & some water)
– Other salad vegies we have bought at the farmers’ market – usually some radish, onion, carrot… – would cost less than 20c per lunch
– Protein costs vary from about 65c for tofu, 20-50c for cheese or less than 20c for almonds.

I think its safe to say that these lunches cost less than $1 – compared with buying lunch which probably averages around $10.

In case you might think that sounds less than delicious, I should also mention that I LOVE salads and make lots of variations that add to the garden leaves, like:
– Nashi, walnut & a little blue cheese (balsamic dressing)
– Orange, radish, mint with almonds or walnuts
– Grilled zuchini (prepared while doing a barbie the night before), grated lemon rind, fetta & almonds
– Lots of cherry tomatoes (when we have picked a small bowlful), homemade pesto & boconcini milk cherries
– Grated carrot, beetroot, radish & tofu (orange/soy/chilli dressing)

If you happen to like actual recipes, here’s a really delicious one that came mostly from my garden – the quantities would easily serve two.

Summer garden salad
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/3 cup cooked chickpeas
Large Handful of flat leaved parsley, roughly chopped
Small handful of mint, chopped
1 medium zucchini sliced & grilled (preferably still warm)
1 medium tomato, diced
¼ red onion, diced
1 small cucumber, diced
About 10 olives (I used Mount Zero)
Red Hill Cheese, Coolart Soft
¼ cup Happy Fruit Currants
White wine vinegar
Lemon juice
Milawa Mustard Three Seeds Mustard

Soak the currants in a small bowl or cup and just cover with vinegar while assembling all the salad ingredients – vary the quantities (and vegies) depending on what you like the most. Add lemon juice, mustard and some of the oil from the cheese jar to the currant mix to taste. Pour over the salad and combine thoroughly before serving.

I’d love to hear your favorite summer salad combinations.


2 thoughts on “My (almost) free lunch

  1. tricia

    Pleased to stumble across your blog and challenge. I like the idea of connecting with your ‘food roots’. We skipped Supermarkets, Shopping Malls and Super Chains last year – and I loved how it helped us connect with our community and food. Looking forward to following.


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