Inspired by a recent thread on everyone’s favourite plastering forum, we thought we’d put together some quick and easy meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, second lunch and even the third lunch of the day, with some tips thrown in for good measure.
Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They say this for a reason, because it is the first hit of energy your body gets and after going all night (apart from the cheeky handful of biscuits just before bed) with no sustenance, it needs fuel. Porridge (either instant or made the old-fashioned way) is a cheap filling breakfast that releases energy slowly throughout the morning, fuelling your plastering all the way through to lunch without any hunger pangs. Porridge is very versatile as a breakfast food and it doesn’t take much to add in some fruit, seeds, honey or even bacon, if you feel so inclined. Adding fruit to porridge gets one of your five-a-day in before you even leave the house.
If you hate porridge there are a whole host of microwaveable mug breakfast ideas based on the humble omelette, that take a few minutes to throw together and cook. Simply whisk an egg or two in a mug, add cheese or chopped vegetables and microwave for two minutes, mixing halfway through. You can even have your micro-creation on toast, for more morning fuel. Both porridge and micro-mug-omelettes can be made in the time it takes to boil a kettle.
Food flasks are an easy way of having a hot meal at lunchtime; you can heat up last night’s leftovers in the morning, pop them into the flask and enjoy a hot lunch with zero effort. Similarly, buying a plug in crockpot and taking that with you, means you can have your food cooking away while you work. Simple stews are easy in one of those, and there are a whole host of recipes designed specifically for cooking in a slow cooker – even curries and pasta dishes. The only downside to this is that if your cooking is too good, you’ll end up feeding half the plasterers on site, so stick to a small model if you don’t want that hassle.
A camping stove is also worth considering, as you can heat up a tin of soup or beans very quickly or, even go the whole hog and get a fry up on for a treat. It might not work every day, as cooking from scratch takes a lot of time out of your lunch break, but if time is not a problem then you can eat really well with a single burner, even better with a double. Toasting attachments are available for camping stoves, so you can even do beans on toast while waiting for some plaster to go off.
Keeping a stash of non-perishable food in the van is a good idea for those days when you forget lunch or simply have so much to do that you get hungry again quickly. Tinned fish is healthy and lasts for ever, and snack packs of dried fruit and nuts are readily available at supermarkets and provide a healthy energy source. Crisps are good for a treat as well, but they’ll never last as long in the van once another plasterer notices them there.
One thing to avoid is turning to sugary snacks when energy levels dip; although it will boost your energy quickly, after half an hour your blood sugar levels will crash through the floor, leaving you feeling worse than before you snacked and making finishing that plastering job even harder than it needs to be. Stick to cereal/breakfast bars and fruit for snacks instead, as the inevitable hunger pangs that strike around 3pm are terrible for making people overeat and binge on unhealthy food, ruining your appetite for dinner once you get home after a long day of plastering.