Book Review: Packed by Becky Alexander & Michelle Lake {Nourish Books}

Packed – Lunch hacks and recipes to squeeze more nutrients into your day

By Becky Alexander and Michelle Lake, Nourish Books, £12.99


It’s all too easy to slip into a routine of having the same old boring sandwich or salad for lunch (and spending a fortune in the process) but this needn’t be the case with the release of a new recipe book called ‘Packed’ by food writer Becky Alexander and nutritional therapist Michelle Lake.

This inspiring book has over 90 ideas for nifty ‘lunch hacks’ and recipes to squeeze more nutrients into your day. It’s aimed at ‘everyone’s who’s had enough of cheese sandwiches’ – and yes, I imagine that’s quite a lot of people!

Nutritional Know-How

Michelle is Nutritional Therapist – Mission Nutrition – so all of the ideas are perfectly balanced to provide you with everything your body needs to fuel up at lunchtime. The book is bursting with nutritional advice throughout, so as well as following the recipes you can invent your own creations using Michelle’s pointers for the kind of foods you need to include in your lunch. Michelle writes in a very common sense, non-preachy way and this book is a far, far cry from some of the recent ‘clean eating’ obsession that has taken over of late.

I know Becky as ‘The Local Foodie’ – a St Albans-based food writer. Becky has spent a number of years doing desk-based work, as a magazine writer, editor and food journalist. Becky’s working life has often involved a commute into London, and therefore plenty of hastily-grabbed desk lunches. And although I know that Becky is a keen runner and therefore manages to stay healthy and trim, she also has to feed her family whilst squeezing in lunches around her editing and column writing. Her recipes are faultless and her ‘quick-to-the-table’ approach also really shines through.

Lunch Hacks

I love how practical this book is with tips for planning ahead and recommendations for the best kind of containers to pack your food up in. The healthy ‘lunch hacks’ are brilliant too with ideas for just making a few simple additions into your lunchtime habits, too. For example, adding the right carbohydrates, good quality protein, lots of protein and some healthy fats.

Although my own work is home-based and I therefore don’t have to face daily, often awful-tasting, pre-packed or processed expensive sandwiches and salads, I have been using Packed to liven up my lunchtimes at home, as well as incorporating many of the recipes into our family repertoire.  I even cooked a ‘Packed’ lunch for Michelle and Becky at my home, and I’ve also turned to Packed a few times when entertaining friends.

The books is split into five chapters covering everything from breakfast, drinks, snacks and every kind of portable lunch you can think of.

Haarala Hamilton for Nourish Books
Photography credit Haarala Hamilton for Nourish Books

1. Get up and go

– breakfasts on the move, muffins, healthy granola and overnight oats

Pimp your water bottle – with things like watermelon, cucumber, mint etc

We especially love the Coconut, Pistachio and Goji Berry Granola Bars, which you can make in advance, and keep in the fridge for breakfast or packed lunch snacks.

2. Salads and slaws

– delicious dressing ideas – love the Asian dressing one with sesame oil, apple cider and tahini.

– slaws – there are so many ideas for dressing up your slaws – from celeriac slaw to summer vegetable slaw with all manner of added goodies, such as edamame beans, peas, radishes, dried apricots, pomegranate, fresh herbs, pumpkin seeds and more.

Haarala Hamilton
Photography credit Haarala Hamilton for Nourish Books

We also had the Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpea, Feta and Pomegranate Salad and the Smoked Mackerel, Watercress and Radish Salad from this chapter together for lunch.

3. Filling flasks

– chunky and smooth soups – creamy wild mushroom looks amazing and uses almond milk – also lots of ideas for portable noodles, stews, chilli and curries.

We love the Tomato and Butter Bean Soup (also above) and the Spicy Cauliflower and Almond Soup. As well as making a great lunch for me, the children love a mug of soup as an after-school snack. I also often make a batch of the Chicken, Root Veggie and Pearl Barley Stew in my Instant Pot which lasts me most of the week as a desk-lunch.

4. Fork free meals

– pate, dips and spreads – the Sweet Potato and Goat’s Cheese dip sounds incredible as well as all the deli plate ideas, sandwiches (Coronation-ish Chicken, Salt Beef and Sauerkraut etc) and sushi rolls.

5. Snacks and bites

– keep away from crisps with some of these brilliant ideas like Tamari and Lime Kale Crisps or Spicy Popped Chickpeas or if you’ve got more of a sweet tooth then the Apricot and Cashew Energy Balls or Salted Peanut and Raw Cacao Fudge are bound to appeal.

Overall verdict

If you’re keen to clean up your act nutritionally, and save time and money ‘Packed’ has a huge variety of inspiring portable meal ideas that should perk your office or home lunch right up.

About the authors: 

Becky Alexander is a food writer (The Guild of Food Writers) and food book editor. She writes a fortnightly food column for The Herts Advertiser newspaper focussing on seasonal, local food. 

Michelle Lake DipION CNHC mBANT is a registered Nutritional Therapist and has been running her own busy practice, Mission Nutrition in St Albans for over 7 years. She trained for four years at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition on its internationally acclaimed nutritional therapy course. She is a member of BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) and The Nutritional Therapy Council (NTC).



Own copy, all thoughts and opinions my own. I was not required to write a positive review. Amazon affiliate link included. 

Pop back tomorrow for an exclusive recipe from the book.

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  1. It’s always good to get more ideas for a nutritionally dense and tasty lunch. Like you I work from home, so I don’t have the portability issue very often these days, but I still need to pack a lunch from time to time and all of the ideas you’ve highlighted, sure beat a First Great Western sandwich.

  2. I think this is a timely book because I think there’s only so many shop-bought sandwiches anyone can stomach in a lifetime. Now parasitic infections are increasing thanks to sushi consumption. Added to that the pressure of the government to now somehow squeeze in 10-a-day. This book is the answer!

  3. I always have the intention of making more packed lunches but really tire of the same old same old sandwiches all the time, so it looks like I could really benefit from this book to get a lot more creative with ideas. I love the look of those granola bars and the salads look great too!

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