Ask Hilary

Is bringing a lunchbox to the office naff?

Definitely Not! says Sunday Times Food editor Hilary Biller. She shares tips for putting a scrumptious packed lunch together

21 January 2018 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
Avocado and cauli-rice bowl; a happy box is the office equivalent of a trendy 'bowl'.
Avocado and cauli-rice bowl; a happy box is the office equivalent of a trendy 'bowl'.
Image: SA Avocado Growers Association

A homemade lunchbox is right on the button, in fact if you aren't doing it, you aren't on trend.

Making your own lunch will save you loads of moola and is way more wholesome than take-outs.

It requires some planning, but by following a couple of easy guidelines you are certain to be the envy of your colleagues:

• NEVER eat out of the plastic container in which you bring lunch to the office. It's so much nicer on a plate or in a bowl. Keep a couple in your desk drawer - it then feels like sitting down to a proper lunch. Plastic knives and forks are passé, for fun try chopsticks - they're cheap and environmentally friendly too.

• Make your own office pantry and stock it with things like a salt and pepper grinder, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, some hot sauce and serviettes - double ply of course.

• A great way in planning a lunchbox is to make a happy box, mixing the ingredients for variety. Start with greens as the base - lettuce, rocket, spinach, kale - and top with grains or pulses such as couscous, quinoa, brown rice or canned barley, lentils or chickpeas. Add some veg and your favourite protein like fish, cheese, boiled egg or leftover chicken. Top with a handful of seeds or nuts for crunch. How about a whole avo? Or go French - a big hunk of cheese, slices of salami, ham, chorizo or cold beef, olives and some good bread, and a piece of fruit.

• Stewing over a recipe? Baffled by an ingredient? Short on meal ideas? Hilary Biller answers your food questions. Send your queries to