A few of you lovely readers have asked me to do a post on easy and fast lunches to make for and take to work! Life can be busy and hectic, and I’m going to guess that majority of us don’t want to have to make our lunch in the morning before work instead of getting an extra 10-20 minutes of sleep. These are some inexpensive and easy to make lunches that will get you through the day and work and leave you as much time as possible in your day!
I am not a fan of food prep. I mean, I do it because I want to be the most efficient with my time, but I hate making my lunch. So, I’ve slowly amassed different ideas for lunch to save me time and energy. These suggestions are based on you having access to a kettle and a microwave, as most workplaces will at least offer that to employees! (We also have a toaster oven, but I know that that is a less common option.) From my experience, most people tend to eat smaller lunches and larger dinners- these suggestions aren’t meant to be three course meals to keep you full for the rest of your day, but rather to fill you up for your afternoon and keep you functioning! These should include 5 minutes of prep or less (one takes slightly longer… at seven minutes), and are relatively inexpensive to make.
1) Leftovers… Duh
I figured I would get this out of the way- leftovers are probably one of the easiest lunches to make. All you have to do is make a little bit more of whatever your dinner is, set it aside while you are eating to cool, and then pop it in the fridge until you are ready to go to work the next day. Some things may have to be left separate until you get to work to prevent soggy and wilted items- like adding the taco chips to your taco salad at lunch- but overall, it’s probably the most effective use of your time. It takes a bit of practice to get used to figuring out how much to make to have enough to bring without having to eat it for the whole week, but it’s easiest option.
2) Peanut Butter and….
Ensure that no one in your office space is allergic to peanuts before doing this, but I have really come around to peanut butter as a lunch food. Yes, a lot of people will do the standard peanut butter sandwich but I’m not a huge fan. I will however eat peanut butter and bananas, peanut butter and apples, peanut butter and crackers, peanut butter and carrots, the list goes on. It’s actually incredibly filling, it’s easy to transport, you can eat it quickly, and it’s not a messy meal if that comes into play. A banana dipped in peanut butter is usually what I eat for breakfast or after the gym at lunch, but I have paired it with some crackers for lunch. Economical, and you just have to remember to bring something to dip in it (if you have a little storage space, you could leave a small jar at work).
3) The Snack Lunch
If I’m not in the mood for something heavy, oftentimes I will pull together a lunch of snacks, and it’s one of the fastest lunches to grab in the morning. I will take a bit of yogurt, some crackers, cheese, a baggie of veggies, and banana or an apple. The nice thing is that this allows you to finish up the small amounts of things that you have left, and it also easily allows you to hit all of the food groups. Now, if you need a heavy or dense meal to feel full, this might not work, but for most, this will actually do the trick! (I also love doing this in the summer when it is quite warm out, it seems to suit the hot weather well.) If you are used to a heavier lunch, I would recommend trying this a few times- it takes a little bit to get used to, but is a great option.
4) Soup PLUS
Okay, I don’t think that having a can of soup on hand is any sort of brilliant answer to lunch- I think that a lot of us can make that thought process. If I can, I will use chicken stock, veggies, and chicken to make my own soup but sometimes you don’t have the time or ingredients ready to do that. I like to keep a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup on hand, and make extra veggies to throw in to make it a bit healthier. We have quite cold winters here, and sometimes you just want something warm and filling to help you along the day. Even with boiling the veggies to throw in, you are looking at about 7 minutes total, which you could easily do while making your coffee/tea and getting ready to leave.
Now, I know what you are going to say- “Historian, that is a breakfast food.” Well, breakfast for lunch OR dinner is delicious. I like to buy plain and flavoured packets of oatmeal, and eat two or three for lunch- all you need is a bowl, a spoon, and boiling water- oatmeal is a great source of iron and Vitamin B-6, and if you add some milk, you are getting calcium. What I love about oatmeal is that the packets take up very little room in my desk, but I always know that I have a meal there if I need it, and it’s about $1.25 for the whole meal. Note: when shopping for oatmeal, ensure that the brand and flavour that you are buying isn’t filled with sugar. Mixing a plain and a flavoured packet is a good way to tackle this!
What are your creative and fast options for lunch on the go? Please leave your ideas in the comments!