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Minimal effort, maximum taste: the best packed lunch recipes

These exciting, delicious dishes are cheaper than chips… and healthier, too!
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Asian Beef Noodle Salad

Asian Beef Noodle Salad

Succulent steak salad for only 86p? Yes please!

Tender strips of seared Asian beef accompanied by sesame noodles and a fresh, zingy salad with cripsy croutons & a sprinkling of toasted nuts to top it all off. Phew, what a mouthful… literally!

meal prep recipe for summer steak salad with raw veggies
Eating salad with chopsticks… Not a simple skill to master!

High in protein and brimful of raw veggies and healthy fats, this Asian beef noodle salad is the ultimate show-off summer packed lunch. Not only does it look great but a whole week’s worth of lunches for two people only costs £8.60 — wildly good value for something this delicious!

I’ve kept the recipe for this dish pretty close to the Jamie Oliver original, with just a few small tweaks (as always!), because who has time to seek out a supermarket that sells pickled ginger and alfalfa sprouts?! I’ve also added some home-made croutons — mostly because The HHH requests them all the time, but also because they add a nice extra crunch.

This recipe is perfect for an easy summer dinner and would fit in nicely at any picnic, but I definitely think it works best for a simple meal prep lunch. Fresh, tasty & filling (to fit in with our packed lunch criteria) but not heavy enough to make you fall asleep at your desk halfway through the afternoon! Head over to Lakeland or Sistema to buy yourself a sustainable packed lunch box like these ones and you, too, can feel appropriately smug when lunchtime comes around 😉

Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 20 mins | Servings: 10
Cost? I paid £0.86 per serving

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Full Instructions

Prepare and cook the steak and croutons:

1 tbsp coconut oil; 500g beef steak; 3 tsp Chinese five-spice; salt & pepper; 1 ciabatta roll (diced into small cubes)

  1. Put your frying pan or griddle on high heat and add ½ tbsp of coconut oil
  2. Rub both sides of the steaks with Chinese five-spice and season with salt & pepper
  3. When your pan is searing hot, add the seasoned steaks, flipping them every minute until cooked to your liking
    *tip* for rare steak like ours in the photos above, cook for 1 minute per centimeter per side, i.e. if your steak is 2 cm thick, cook for 2 mins on each side
  4. When done, transfer the steaks to a board to rest before slicing into very thin strips
  5. While the pan is still hot, add another ½ tbsp of coconut oil, along with the diced ciabatta and lots of salt & pepper
  6. Keep moving the cubes around in the pan for 3–5 minutes or until you have crispy croutons (keep these in an airtight container but not in the fridge)

Prepare the steak salad and dressing:

½ cucumber (diced); 200g radishes (cut into quarters); 4 spring onions (finely sliced); 3 small carrots (grated); 1 head little gem lettuce (shredded); small bunch, 25–30g, fresh coriander (roughly chopped); 1 punnet cress; thumb-sized piece of ginger (skin removed & thinly sliced into strips); 1 chilli (finely chopped); 2 tbsp fish sauce; 2 tbsp soy sauce; 1 tbsp sesame oil; juice of 3 limes; cooked beef

  1. In a big bowl, combine the cucumber, radishes, spring onions, carrots, lettuce and coriander before snipping the cress over the top of everything — this is your raw salad
  2. To make the dressing, whisk together the strips of ginger, chilli, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and lime juice, before storing in the fridge
  3. Mix the vegetable salad with the beef strips and place it all in an airtight container in the fridge until needed

Toast the nuts and cook the noodles:

50g cashew nuts; 2 tbsp sesame seeds; 1 tbsp sunflower seeds; 3 nests egg noodles; drizzle sesame oil

  1. Put a frying pan (preferably non-stick) on high heat and, once hot, add the cashews, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, tossing regularly for a few minutes until golden (once done, keep these in an airtight container but not in the fridge)
    *tip* you don’t need to add oil here as the nuts will give off some oil of their own
  2. While the nut mixture is toasting, boil a kettle and cook the noodles according to the packet instructions
  3. When done, drain and drizzle with a little sesame oil
  4. Transfer the noodles to a container and store in the fridge until needed

Create the steak salad:

cooked noodles; vegetable & steak salad mixture; toasted nut mixturecroutons; dressing

  1. Either in the morning, before work, or the night before, transfer a portion of the noodles and the vegetable & steak salad to a lunch box and scatter over the toasted nuts
  2. If you can, keep the croutons and dressing separate, only combining everything once you’re ready to eat — this stops it all from going soggy

*hot option* keep the beef separate from the salad and pop the steak & noddles into the microwave for a few minutes, before mixing with the vegetables, croutons, nuts and dressing

Final thoughts from The Hungry Hungry Husband?

“There’s nothing niche about this Asian beef!”

The Hungry Hungry Husband - the hunt for the perfect packed lunch and meal prep recipes

steak salad meal prep packed lunch box from sistema
Packed lunch box from Sistema
steak salad meal prep packed lunch box from lakeland
Packed lunch box from Lakeland

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