There’s a lot of disadvantages to being stucksafe inside during a global pandemic. Lunch isn’t one for me. While working from home I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having lunches that I don’t normally have. These are all of my work from home lunch ideas.
Normally I eat leftovers for lunch every day. At my job I can’t go out to eat, and I typically want a hot lunch. There are many things that are delicious leftover but there are others that are not. I’m trying to eat all the foods that aren’t good leftover in my work from home lunches since I can cook quick meals.
For some of these lunches they’re only practical to make quickly if you prep ahead. Ok here me out. I’m not talking a lot of prep here. Easy preps like these:
I regularly cook a pot of beans and leave them in the fridge to use during the week.
We cook bacon once a month or so that way we can pull a strip or two from the freezer at a time.
If I’m chopping peppers up for dinner, I chop a few extra to leave in the fridge.
Melt Some Cheese
I love a grilled cheese for lunch. Carbs and cheese are the way to my heart. And this one is quick.
Jazz up your grilled cheese by adding bacon, jalapeño slices and a quick spread of blackberry jam. Or put some tomato bouillon in between the cheese slices to add more flavor. Layer on some leftover chicken or lunch meat. Drizzle a little olive oil on a small plate and add some herbs to make a flavorful dip for your grilled cheese to land on. My point is you can make your grilled cheese fancy.
Just like a grilled cheese, you can make a quesadilla special by adding any leftover proteins like chicken or sausage you have in the fridge. Toss in a few peppers or some already cooked beans. Or even spread on some mashed chipotle sweet potatoes. Dip your end result in salsa. Or ranch.
Beans, Beans, Beans
Have I mentioned I love beans? Just be sure to cook them ahead of time, or start them early enough to be ready by lunch.
Who doesn’t love tacos? We always keep small corn tortillas on hand. I’ve been known to make a random taco as a pre-dinner snack. Tacos might be the best work from home lunch there is. The trick is having ingredients prepped (or leftover from earlier in the week) in the fridge so they’re ready in a flash.
I usually layer 3-4 ingredients on a couple tortillas. Beans are a must in tacos I think. Cover tacos in a skillet (mine fits 3 small tortillas) on medium heat until cheese is melted. Then hot sauce and devour. Occasionally I remember to slice and squeeze in a lime wedge before I eat all my tacos.
If you’re making tacos for 2, plop tortillas on a cookie sheet, layer them up and pop them in the oven to heat through, rather than run two batches in the skillet.
Here are a few of my favorite taco ingredients to work with:
Use any of the same ingredients you would for a taco, just add an egg and use a bigger flour tortilla. I like to heat a few peppers with a strip of crumbled bacon and some black beans in a skillet. Scramble in an egg. Then melt some cheese and wrap in a tortilla. Don’t forget salt; eggs desperately need it. And turkey burger seasoning is a flavorful addition here. Salsa is good too.
Eggs & Such
Skip the soft tortilla and just make eggs with stuff in it. Beans + eggs are fantastic together. Melt in some cheese and eat by scooping with tortilla chips. Any of the other usual suspects like peppers or fridge leftovers can be good here too.
Other Hot Lunch Ideas
Lentil + Potato Soup
Fresh potatoes will take much longer, frozen diced hashbrown potatoes are key here. Add a serving of lentils (1/4 cup) and a serving of potatoes (2/3 cup) to 1.5 cups of chicken broth (I always use bouillon because that’s what I have on hand). Then let everything boil until the lentils are tender which takes about 15 minutes. The potatoes will be more than done at that point, but I like how they start to break down and thicken things a little.
Add garlic powder, tomato bouillon and a little parsley if you’re feeling fancy. Eat on its own or serve with some garlic bread. I like a half a hoagie roll toasted with olive oil, garlic and Parmesan as a quick garlic bread.
Pasta + Edamame
This is a go to for me when I’m not working from home and I need lunch to take with me. I’ll boil pasta while I toast and eat my bagel. It’s that quick and easy, which makes it a perfect work from home lunch too.
Toss in some frozen edamame while your pasta boils. Tortellini cooks quicker than other pastas. Kroger and Costco both sell big bags of it frozen. After the pasta’s cooked and drained, add jarred alfredo (you can liven it up with basil and garlic) or some olive oil and seasonings.
Do not underestimate olive oil and a few simple seasonings (think garlic + Italian seasoning) over pasta. It is so easy and so tasty. If you put in a little extra work to heat crushed fresh garlic, fresh basil and chili flakes in olive oil before tossing it with your pasta and edanoms, you won’t regret it. Don’t forget salt. Edamame needs a lot of salt.
No Cook Lunches
Liven Up Sandwiches
Sandwiches are a go to for lunch for lots of people and that gives them a bad rap as boring. But they don’t have to be boring. Some of the things that make sandwiches so great aren’t possible when you’re packing your lunch. At home you can do all those things.
Try toasting your bread. Add hummus or pesto without worrying about soggy bread. Toss in some leftover grilled veggies. Use a tortilla to make a wrap instead of bread. Layer your sandwhich ingredients on crackers instead like an adult Lunchable. I love peanut butter and jelly on Ritz, and nothing beats pepperoni and cheese on crackers.
Carrot & Cabbage Salad
This carrot & cabbage salad is perfect for a light, healthy lunch. With a base of carrots and red cabbage instead of greens, your produce for this salad has a longer shelf life in the fridge. Nothing stinks more than looking forward to a salad and finding your greens have gone slimy and gross in the produce drawer.
Modify the dressing flavors with lime juice and chipotle and pair with tacos. Add leftover chicken or some chopped lunch meat to bulk up this salad. Leave the cheese and sunflower seeds off until you’re ready to eat it if you prep ahead of time. This salad really doesn’t take long to put together though.