For me, the most exciting part of work days, can be food. If I have something for lunch that I’m not looking forward to, it can make a bad day seem so much worse. I really like to be prepared and make things for work week lunches that I will enjoy eating and not make me cave and go buy something I shouldn’t.
This chunky tomato sauce is staple for work week lunch prep for me. I have been making it consistently for the past year, and I am still not sick of it. I love tomatoes, and I have found so many uses for this sauce I never tire of it. For a work week lunch I will pair it with pasta or quinoa, add some extra basil, parmesan cheese and maybe some prosciutto and I have a meal I really look forward to eating. I can prepare a few portions of this in advance, and have it ready in the fridge to take to work in the mornings.
I have also found this sauce is great for:
- Pizza bases, just spread a thin layer over the base and then add any toppings you fancy
- Adding to scrambled eggs
- Using as a dip
- Adding to open toasted sandwiches and bruschetta
- As a substitute for a relish with things like frittatas
- And of course, using it as the best homemade pasta sauce you’ve ever had is really number one on the list.
This recipe is a quicker adaptation to this one I posted quite a while ago. I needed it to be quicker as even though I like cooking, I don’t want to spend all my time preparing for the work week. I tend to use whatever tomatoes are cheapest to buy, like the ‘imperfect picks’ or the ones that are quite ripe and ready for a quick sale. Once the sauce is cooked I store it in large glass jars in the fridge (like the ones pictured in this post).
And as I have had many questions over the year about bringing food to work and how to go about it, below are some of my tips. I have also included a list of other recipes (all of which can be found in the recipe archive) I utilise most weeks to ensure I am super prepared with lots of good food to enjoy.
6 Tips for Work Week Meal Prep
1. Be Prepared
Spend some time working out what meals you want to make and what you need for each. Write a shopping list and work out which shops you need to go to. Prepare what you can in advance (i.e. things that can be frozen).
2. Utilise Your Freezer
Lots of meals either partially prepared or fully cooked can be frozen into portions and defrosted as you need them. Find some freezer safe containers and label them with the contents and date prepared.
3. Have Some Good Storage Jars & Containers
Along with some good freezer safe containers, get some good reusable containers or large jars to store pantry staples, and other condiments and sauces you could make from scratch. Also get a couple of small/medium containers to take your lunch to work in.
4. Cook What You Like to Eat
Start with recipes and meal ideas you actually want to eat. If not buying lunch everyday is a new thing for you, don’t bother planning and prepping meals that you think you ‘should’ eat but probably won’t when it comes down to it. Prepare food that will satisfy you, and that you will maybe even look forward to eating.
5. Make It Fun
Hate food shopping? Make it more interesting by going to a market and getting some fresh produce there. This can also double as an enjoyable morning out on the weekend. You are also then buying fresh and local produce, and getting in touch with the seasonality of food and who produces it. Alternatively you could be super organised and buy your food online and save time.
6. Always Cater For Leftovers
This is especially important on the weekends when you might have time to cook a little more. Cater for 1-2 more people than you are actually serving, especially if it’s something that will freeze or keep well and you would like to eat again. Cooked meats can be used in sandwiches and salads, and left over roast vegetables can make great additions to frittatas.
Homemade Chunky Tomato Sauce
4 cloves garlic, crushed
50g baby capers
45g anchovies in oil*
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 bunch basil, leaves only, roughly chopped
Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Have two deep baking dishes ready, I use two enamel ones that are approx. 28 x 20cm.
Slice up the tomatoes into 1cm slices and divide between the two pans. If using small or cherry tomatoes, cut some in half and pierce really small ones with a knife.
Divide the garlic and capers between the two pans. Drain the anchovies over the pans, allowing the oil to drizzle over the tomatoes. Roughly chop the anchovies and add some to each pan. Drizzle more oil over each pan, about 1/2 tbsp for each.
Toss the contents of each pan to combine, then place in the oven. Cook for about 1 hour, checking and moving the tomatoes around in the pan every 20 minutes. Cook time for cherry tomatoes will be less, so keep an eye on them if using.
The sauce will be ready when the tomatoes have cooked down, softened and there is some liquid from the tomatoes still in the pan.
Remove from the oven and transfer all the tomatoes into one of the pans. Stir in the tomato paste and basil. Use immediately or allow to cool in the pans and transfer to large glass jars to store in the fridge until needed.
Keeps in the fridge for about 10 days.
* Yes I know, you don't like anchovies! Leave them out if you wish, however cutting them finely will help them dissolve away into the sauce and give the sauce a gentle touch of saltiness.