Ideas for Lunches to Bring to Work
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I have never been, nor will I ever be one of those people who can just skip lunch. I HAVE skipped my lunch break for the sake of getting extra work done, but you can bet that means I’m going to be eating at my desk. For the latter part of my last job I didn’t meal prep, as breakfast and lunch were provided, but before that (and currently!) I meal prep the heck out of lunch. Don’t get me wrong…if a bunch of people are going out to lunch for a special occasion of sorts, then I’ll tag along, but I’m typically a BYOL (bring your own lunch) type of gal. It actually dates back to my primary school days. I would sometimes eat cafeteria food in elementary school (pizza days + Cookie Cones!), but I always brought my lunch in middle school and high school.
At the workplace (and outside of the workplace), I get the question of if I cook all my lunches and the answer is simply yes. It is what makes sense financially and makes me feel good. If I’m in a rush, Snap Kitchen is a great alternative for making my own lunch, but the cost compares more to eating out vs Snap Kitchen, not if I make it myself. ALSO, I usually have 2 snacks a day, in addition to lunch, so I typically buy more than just a meal when hitting up the SK.
SO, how do I do that? How do I meal prep for me, and most of the time my husband? Well, I make time for it for starters. Just throw on a show or even an audio book and go to town! On Saturdays I typically look at the upcoming week and assess how many lunches/dinners we will need and go from there. I think I get asked the question of how do I do it mainly because my lunches often look like productions and not just a random hodge podge. So yes! I meal prep with a purpose otherwise things would just get kind of weird and expensive. The main question I personally ask when deciding on a meal to make is “Is it versatile?” I KNOW. You thought I only used that word with fashion in my Art of Versatility posts , but I don’t! I like to make recipes for lunch that can also double as a different kind of meal or even dinner! For example, sliders can be eaten alone, on a bun and on a salad.
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite meals to bring for lunch!
Brussels Sprout Bowl. This is what is pictured in this post! I have made it several times now and it is SO good. I add in broccoli too, as that stretches it to 4 meals instead of two. I also add in some fresh garlic! Personally I haven’t added a protein to it besides the egg, but think it would be great with thin beef strips like you’d find in beef broccoli. Might as well add some carrot shavings too while you’re at it! I’ve always make it with pearled cous cous, just because I love the herby, spongey taste. Also I usually leave the egg with the shell in the container and peel right before eating, as I can pack them in the same container if I do that. Bonus is that it re-heats really nicely. Not so great aspect of it is that it smells like brussels sprouts, so maybe plan on eating this in the break room! P.S. If you want to eat it for breakfast, try making a fried egg instead of a boiled egg!
Pimento Cheese. I have eaten pimento cheese all my life, but I had never made it until recently. This is recipe is by Kathleen Barnes and I’m SO glad she posted it. It’s great with veggies, a boiled egg, atop a salad, with crackers, and on a sandwich. Bonus? You don’t have to heat it up! Make it a heavier meal by using it in a grilled cheese and serve with a side of tomato soup. Depending on how much you use per serving, you can get several meals out of it.
Egg Salad. I’ve literally made this twice in a 7 day span. IT’S SO GOOD. Smitten Kitchen does it again. I love the pickled celery, which isn’t hard to make BTW. I’m typically not an egg salad person, but this is tangy and flavorful and not just a blob of mayo. I also love my dad’s tuna salad (which I def need to post on the blog) for the same reason. It is more tangy than fatty and full of flavor. You can basically eat this the same was as the pimento cheese…On a a sandwich, with veggies, on a salad, WITH A SPOON. If you need to make tea sandwiches for an upcoming shower, this is your recipe, I promise! You can probably stretch this to make 3-4 servings.
Firecracker Meatballs. I’ve mentioned this before, but I love making meatballs for lunch, because they are super versatile and filling. This is probably my favorite meatball recipe. I first shared it last summer on Elle’s Everyday Eats Week 5. I use sriracha as the hot sauce and use half brown sugar and half raw honey for the sugar portion. You can sub maple syrup in too! I’ve made them with ground chicken and ground turkey, so whatever floats your boat! I love eating them on a bed of spinach with fresh pineapple, but they are great with rice and bell peppers too. Put them on a steamed bun or shove a toothpick in them and make them an app. Their spicy sweetness is addicting! They are great re-heated, but I could for sure eat them cold. If you use the full 2 lbs of meat requested, this will last severallll meals. I have made smaller meatballs and the 3 tbs size in the recipe. Both work great! If making for an app, I would make them more like 1-2 tbs sized.
Falafel. This recipe might seem scary, but I promise the hardest thing is cleaning the food processor after using it. I love to grab some greek yogurt and squeeze some lemon juice in it and sprinkle some salt and pepper for a make-shift tzatziki sauce. Serve it on a salad or a veggie platter with some hummus too! If we are eating them for dinner, we like to put them on naan bread. So good! The Minimalist Baker made these vegan, but I didn’t, mainly because I didn’t have the vegan necessities on hand, but know that there is that option! It makes several meals for sure!
Black Bean Burgers. Cheaper than beef patties and obviously vegetarian friendly! These are so yummy and of course can be used for a lot. Most of the time I eat them on a salad, but smash them in a tortilla and you’ve got a taco. Of course you can always but them on a hamburger bun too! I typically look to Sally’s Baking Addiction for sweets only, but I’m so glad she posted this recipe! I also recently made these bbq chicken burgers and they were so yum too!
These are all NICK APPROVED too! A lot of the time when I’ll make something, he’ll say something along the lines of “THIS IS AMAZING. Did it take a long time?” And the answer? No! These recipes do not take a long time. They take a normal amount of time or maybe even less. I’ve made croissants from scratch and that takes a long time. DAYS. But these recipes? Minimal effort.
TIP: When I make food and I know that we won’t eat the whole portion, I’ll freeze it so we don’t grow tired of it and waste it. I love doing this before vacation, because I come home to already made meals that just need to defrost!
Let me just say that sometimes meal prepping isn’t in the cards. I get it! Life happens. My go to meal for this is a simple peanut butter sandwich! (PBJ for Nick!) I also try to get some greens in there like a side salad or some broccoli and some form of fruit and call it a day. And guess what? Those lunches are just fine! Don’t beat yourself up over not meal prepping. Do your best and go from there. On that note, I’m going to go have some of the Smitten Kitchen Egg Salad that I just can’t get enough of. Because yes! It works for breakfast too ;) Spread it on some toast and add some crispy bacon if you feel like it!
P.S. Another go-to easy lunch for me is a bean burrito. I keep organic refried black beans and tortillas on hand for this very reason. Add some avocado, greek yogurt, and veggies of your choice and you’re good to go!
Have any lunch recipes that are your fave? Tell me, so I can add them to my rotation!