In the first of our new series featuring easy, quick and inspiring ways you can to reclaim your lunch hour, here are some great suggestions for dried noodles...
Sometimes it feels like the world is divided into perky early risers who could probably knock out a three-course meal before catching the 7:52, and those who have to be prised, mewling, from the duvet, 10 minutes before they have to leave the house.
Whatever your job or hours, it can feel like enough of a chore to boil some pasta for dinner, let alone make a packed lunch for the next day. But bringing something you've made yourself with care and attention can have an almost magically cheering effect in the workplace: it's a comforting slice of home.
And as torturous as waking can be, even the most devoted late riser normally takes the time to make themselves a hot drink. Which is where those individual nests of dried rice noodles come in: they can be speedily cooked in the water you boil for your morning brew and, crucially, taste great cold as a salad. So you can sleep in and avoid the confrontational microwave queue come lunchtime.
• When you blearily go to boil the kettle, add the dried noodles to a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water on top. Cover with a tea towel to trap the steam, and leave for 5 minutes before draining and rinsing under cold water. Shake off as much excess water as possible.
• A good salad dressing is key, and an Asian-style dressing is always delicious. We like a combination of soy sauce, rice or cider vinegar, sesame oil, crushed garlic, dried chilli, sesame seeds and a bit of sugar. Make it in advance if it's all too much first thing.
• Spring onion, radishes, shredded lettuce or cabbage are all welcome additions, along with fresh herbs and shredded leftover meat. Pack everything in separate containers to stop it going soggy. Don't leave these containers on the kitchen counter.
• If you barely have time to clothe yourself before work, bring the raw ingredients to work. When you're hungry, do the chopping, add the noodles to a big bowl and add boiling water. Leave for a few minutes, season with soy sauce, lime juice and chilli, add any extras, and have yourself a phoney pho soup.
Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing are authors of The Little Book of Lunch (Square Peg)
Illustration by Hennie Haworth for the Guardian