Lunch at somewhere outside of university is ‘the thing’ nowadays, but who has time for that with all the lab reports and homework and tutorial sheets and so on? Besides the money it saves, eating in school seems to be a pretty good idea, especially if you have to stay in pretty late: socialising (some) and working (less) at the same time as you eat. Win on both (actually three) sides, right?

And with the choice to lunch in at university, you probably have two options: one of the college’s restaurants/cafeterias (you actually can go around the world’s cuisine in just one or so week, with no stress and on a moderate budget) or the never expiring sandwich (which can also come in a lot of varieties).

But have you thought of being ‘the difference’ and bring lunch that is not a sandwich? The ‘be the difference you want to see in the world’ and eat healthier and better? Changing people’s eating habits? Kind of the same thing I try to do here, but in your friendship group.

So, yes, you’ve probably guessed right when you assumed that I am going to guide you step by step (hold your hand, if necessary, or wipe out your tears when your Asian friends tell you that the rice is not cooked properly) through lunch box making – the best edition you can have without waking up hours earlier. It takes me 30 minutes, but I can easily prepare some bits the evening before so I can sleep in ten extra minutes. Ingredients: 1 chicken breast

1 large flat mushroom


1 egg


1 small carrot

1 small onion(or, even better, spring onion)

1 plum


Corn (canned)


Salad leaves



Olive oil


Salt, pepper (and any other spices you might like)

½ Lemon

(Some yoghurt maybe) The night before (just if you are as lazy as I am and you prefer to sleep in)

Cut the carrot and the plum into small cubes and slice the onion and put in the fridge in separate containers. Cook some rice (½ of a cup is more than enough, but you can cook more for multiple meals). This is the step where you can just cheat a bit and buy some instant rice (I definitely do that, but according to the experts, it is not properly cooked).

Don’t forget to take the chicken breast out of the freezer and put it in the fridge (so you won’t have to defrost it in the morning - that requires extra time you don’t actually have). In the morning

Preheat a pan with a knob of butter.

Preheat the oven to 230C

Take the chicken breast and cut it into strips (or really, any other form you want; if you want it heart-shaped, go on – have some fun!). Salt and pepper it. Maybe you want to add some extra chilli or anther spices that you fancy.

Fry the onion with the carrots in the butter until they become soft. Be careful not to overcook the onion. Remove the inside of the mushroom(the gills and stem - for all the biologists out there), chop them and add to the pan along with the onions and carrots.. Mix all of the veggies and the diced plum with the rice and fill the mushroom cap. Try to make a small well in the middle of the rice, to hold your egg.

Put the mushroom in the oven and cook it for five minutes. Give the pan a quick wipe and return to the hob, with some more oil. When hot, add the chicken and fry on a high heat.

Take out the mushroom and put the egg in the well that you left in the centre. Be careful not to spill it (too much). Add some grated cheese on top of it (the more the better) and cook it in the oven for six more minutes. By now, your chicken should definitely be done, so don’t forget to check it. Remove it from the pan, and reserve,

Meanwhile, you should prepare the healthy part of the meal: the salad. Chop the tomato and slice the cucumber. Mix them with the salad leaves and the peas. Dress it with olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice.

Put everything in a pretty lunchbox: the stuffed mushroom, chicken strips and salad. I prefer putting the corn in a corner, not mixing in with the salad, but you can do if you prefer. Add the yoghurt in a small container and try not to forget it.

Now, you are all set up for lunch – and what a better way to impress that girl/boy than by showing them that you can actually cook? Basic needs, people!

P.S. Don’t forget to brag about it. It’s essential.