Benefits abound in bringing a packed lunch to work - it's the most thrifty option plus you know exactly what you're getting in your body to fuel it for the afternoon slog. However, we know it can be hard to find the time to prep it all the night before. Sophie Kaiser has come up with four meals you can make at work - even in that small - sometimes smelly - communal kitchen. All you need is a quick raid of the fridge at home before you race out the door.

1. Masala omelette
Prep: 5 minutes
Cooking: 2-3 minutes


A versatile and filling lunch. Photo / Thinkstock

Especially good if you're after something that packs a spicy punch. In a microwave safe bowl beat two eggs. Add a dash of milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. The beauty of an omelet is its versatility, so you can throw in any veges you've got. In this case I suggest chopping about a ¼ red onion, ½ chopped tomato, ½ green chilli and a handful of finely chopped coriander leaves. Cover the bowl and microwave for 45 seconds. Give it a check. If it's not set, give it 10 more seconds and continue checking till you're happy with the consistency. Slide it onto a plate and add some salad. Another awesome variation is nutmeg, spinach and feta or cheese, ham and parsley.

2. Noodle or rice soup
Prep: 3 minutes
Cook: 2-3 minutes

Perfect if you've made a stir-fry for dinner the night before. Take to work: some leftover noodles or rice, a stock cube (I prefer good quality, organic), a handful of baby spinach, a couple of mushrooms and ½ spring onion. When you're hungry boil the kettle and chop your vegetables. Put them all in a bowl, add the noodles. Dissolve the cube in a cup or 2 of boiling water - depending on your flavour preference. Pour the stock over the noodle/veg mix and put a plate on top for about 3 minutes, till it's all warm and soft. Frozen vegetables could also be used and for more flavour try chopped chilli, ginger or garlic.

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A hearty soup can help you get through the rest of the day. Photo / Thinkstock
3. Quesadillas
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes

This is is my personal favourite. Any combo works - but my favourite is (all chopped up): 3 mushrooms, 1 spring onion, half a tomato, a handful of spinach and some cheese. Pop your flat bread or tortilla on a heated sandwich press. Toss all your ingredients on one half, add cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper and any herbs you want to. Fold the empty side over on top. Flip over and cook until both halves are crispy and golden brown. I also really love plain cheese quesadillas with some ceviche or guacamole.


Cheesy and delicious quesadillas. Photo / Thinkstock
4. Ceviche
Prep: 5- 25minutes
Cook: None

Ceviche is considered an appetizer, but it's also a great light lunch. I'll let you in on a recipe I picked up in Mexico: Dice one fish fillet (I use trevally here as it stays together nicely and it's affordable). Squeeze over the juice of one lemon or lime, sprinkle some salt, cover and and marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. When you're ready to eat finely chop ½ red onion, 2 tomatoes, 1 capsicum, 1 chilli and a handful cilantro or coriander. Toss the ceviche in the mix. If you don't fancy raw fish you could use shrimp or crab meat with the same flavours. A raw fish salad the island way is another option - follow the same steps as you would with the ceviche but add some cucumber and swap onion with spring onion. Top it all with 400ml of coconut milk at the end and mix. Be warned: the coconut milk blows the calorie count.


A light lunch with lots of flavour. Photo / Thinkstock

- nzherald.co.nz