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When most people think of lunches, they think of boring old sandwiches, and cold pasta salads. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but occasionally you may want something a little bit different – a hot, healthy and filling meal. And seeing as most offices now have some kind of heating facilities, I’m thinking a microwave here, it’s made the choices of food you can eat for lunch so much more varied. So, why not prepare these dishes at home the night before, use them for your main meal and then take the leftovers to work the next day for lunch. Just make sure you invest in some tubs with leak-proof lids – you don’t want to plunge your hands into Shepherd’s pie, when you’re only after your phone!

This week we’ll look at two classic recipes that make perfect leftovers: Shepherds pie and chilli.

1. Shepherd’s pie

An oldie, but a goody! Never underestimate the comforting power of mince and mashed potatoes. So simple and quick to make too. If you prefer cottage pie, no probs, swap the lamb for beef.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add 1 large onion 2 medium carrots, chopped into small pieces, cook until soft. Then add 500g of lamb or Quorn mince, draining off any excess fat as it cooks. Once browned, add in a dash of Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons of tomato puree and 500ml of beef stock, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then take off the lid and continue to simmer for a further 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180c or gas 4 and whilst it warms up, put 900g potatoes on to boil – skins on or off, your choice, but on is healthier, as all the goodness is just under the skin – ready to make the mash. Add lots of milk and butter to make the mash creamy and delicious.

Transfer the mince mixture to an ovenproof dish, add the potatoes and mess up the top with a fork to give it a crispy texture. Pop back in the oven for 20-25 mins and about 10 mins before it’s done, add the cheese and bake until melting and golden.

2. Chilli

Always good and even better on days two, three, four… Now, you can just cheat and get a jar of sauce or a packet mix. But, if you make the effort to make your own, you’ll not regret it. The flavour is so superior, and it’s so simple to make, you’re unlikely to ever go back to readymade again.

Heat a tablespoon of oil and add 2 finely chopped onions, cook until soft and just golden brown, then throw in 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Once that’s cooked for a couple of minutes, add 1kg of mince or Quorn and cook for a couple more minutes. Now, mix in 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon, plus 3-4 teaspoons of chilli flakes. If you’re brave, add half a teaspoon of cayenne too. Now add salt and pepper, 3 tablespoons of tomato puree and cook for a minute to activate the spices. Finally, add 800g of chopped tomatoes, a beef stock cube, 800g kidney beans and a couple of squares of chocolate (try it!), mix and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.

Have a go at these, we’re sure you’ll love them and come back tomorrow for more leftover lunches – it’ll be creamy pasta, chicken and vegetables! Sounds good, doesn’t it?

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