What the Heck do I Pack for Lunch?: Jacket Potatoes

When it comes to packing lunch for work, my usual policy is to make a TON of whatever I am having for dinner, and then chuck the rest into a tupperware container to be heated up the next day. Minimal effort, maximum deliciousness.

But sometimes, this just isn’t possible. If I’ve gone out to eat, or made something that doesn’t translate well to leftovers, I am stuck with figuring out something quick and easy to bring for lunch the next day. I heavily emphasize the quick and easy part, because after a long and busy day, the last thing I want to be doing is slaving over a meal that’s just going to be scarfed down in about a minute flat anyway (welcome to the life of a teacher).

One of my favourite quick and filling vegan lunch ideas is the jacket potato with beans. For any non-Brit readers, that’s a baked potato (I guess it kind of looks like it’s wearing a jacket…?). It’s extremely simple to make, and can be customized in any number of ways. It’s warm, filling, and the beans ensure that you get a healthy dose of protein that will keep you full and happy.  And you can make a ton of these ahead of time to quickly pop into a tupperware, then into the microwave at work.

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Here is an example of what your potato could be. I’m cheating a bit, as this photo is actually one that I bought at my first Bonfire Night celebration. Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and toasty inside?

So without further ado, here is the basic formula for creating this warm toasty goodness at home!

STEP 1: Bake them taters.  
I like to make a few at a time, as they can then be kept in the fridge ready for future meals. Either wrap them in foil or just poke them a few times with a fork, then bake for 50-60 minutes at 425 degrees F.

STEP 2: Prep the filling
This step might not even be necessary if you’re doing the ‘extremely lazy’ method of opening a can and dumping the contents onto your taters, which is completely acceptable. However, if you’re feeling fancy, you can use this time to make your filling. See below for a few ideas.

STEP 3: Filling + Potato 
Cut the potato open in a cross shape so you can pull it apart a little. I put the potato into my lunch tupperware first. Then, you literally just pour the filling on top. That’s it. You’re done.  I store the extra filling separately from the extra potatoes so there’s no mushiness going on, and then just repeat step 3 when I want to pack my lunch.

It’s really an idiot-proof recipe, but one that I never really thought of making as a packed lunch until I came to England. But you can get creative with it too. Here are some ideas on how to customize your tater.

Some Fillings, In Decreasing Order of Laziness:

  • Canned baked beans — The standard, tomato-sauce kind.
  • Flavoured canned beans — Some grocery stores sell beans in a can that already have some sort of sauce on them. I’ve seen Moroccan style chickpeas, bean chili, and a few others that I can’t remember. Just double check that the ingredients are all vegan.
  • Chickpeas + Jar of Curry Sauce. Heat together in a pan. Stir in spinach if you want.
  • Quick Chili: In a saucepan, sautee your onions and garlic,  add chili powder/whatever seasonings your heart desires, then your veg (peppers work nicely), then chuck in any kind of beans you want, then a can of diced tomato, and simmer it all together until it smells delicious. You can easily throw in whatever veggies you’ve got in the fridge, as long as they’re cut up fairly small.

This list is by no means exhaustive. If you’ve got some pesto sauce in your fridge, why not try some white beans or chickpeas with pesto, perhaps with some vegan creme fraiche? (Praise the vegan gods that this exists). If you’re bored of normal potatoes, I have also done this using sweet potato! I find it goes well with either a curry-flavoured filling, or a chili. Don’t forget to sprinkle on some nutritional yeast if you happen to have some. You can also grate some vegan cheese on top while it’s still hot if you feel like adding some extra ‘pizzazz’ (what a great word). I have never done this, but I probably just haven’t had the foresight to buy vegan cheese when I am making these.

Enjoy  your quick, hearty, and tasty vegan lunch!

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