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How to Break Out of Your Lunchtime Rut

Photo: LisaHatters / Getty

Can’t stand to eat the same thing for lunch every day? We feel you. Pack a ploughman’s lunch and you’ll never be bored again. 

We get it. As much as you have good intentions to plan and pack lunches for the week ahead, you are just plain over that big batch of chicken salad or vegetable chili by day three. Instead, you might grab takeout, snack your way through the day, or simply skip lunch altogether. The solution to your midday meal doldrums actually couldn’t be easier: pack a ploughman’s lunch.

The ploughman’s lunch began as a pub special for English laborers in the 1950’s, usually a hunk of bread, some cheese, onion slices, and a beer. That basic idea has evolved into what’s essentially a Charcuterie board for one: a combination of cold meats, cheese, bread, and sliced vegetables that can be changed up as often as you like. It’s a grazer’s delight (great for snackaholics), easy (next to no cooking), fast, and simple. You also check your nutrition boxes with protein, balanced carbs, and produce. Use the building blocks below for ploughman’s lunches you’ll love.

The Meat

Go with what already tastes great cold, usually your go-to picnic meats. Try cold roast chicken, thickly sliced low-sodium ham, salami, prosciutto, or hard cooked eggs.

The Cheese

Stick to semi firm cheeses that pack well, or pre-portioned wedges of creamier cheeses. Try aged cheddar, Swiss, or Gouda.

The Bread

The sustenance part of the meal, and the vehicle for condiment + cheese + meat bites. Try a couple slices of whole-grain bread, large multi grain crackers, or whole-wheat pita or pita chips.

The Fruit and Vegetable

Crunchy, tart, and juicy vegetables and fruits will give some much needed contrast. Try apple and pear wedges, grapes or grape tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, a few leaves of Bibb lettuce, halved radishes, or red bell pepper slices.

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The Condiment

Again for contrast, a simple condiment will add sharpness and pungency to the plate. Try spreads like savory chutneys, relishes, or grainy mustards, and pickled elements like pearl onions, beets, or a marinated antipasto salad from the olive bar.

Other Nibbles

These can round out and change up the plate. Try unsalted nuts like roasted almonds, wasabi peas or roasted chickpeas, and olives. Don’t forget a sweet finish—a square or two of dark chocolate is perfect.