With more folks working from home, the lunch scene has changed dramatically. There’s no more ordering from the corner deli or Uber Eats deliveries or heading out to the local diner for lunch. Nowadays lunch is at home and is often made while juggling home schooling and work.
As such, you need to think about what you’re going to be eating in advance — and even add a few items to your weekly shopping list. If you’re stuck in a work-at-home lunch rut, here are nine healthy ideas to help you get excited about lunch again.
— Dressed up green salad.
— High protein powered French toast.
— Chili baked potato.
— White bean and tuna salad.
— Southwest burrito Mason jar.
— Greek chicken roll up.
— Cheese board-inspired lunch plate.
— Stepped up grilled cheese.
Dressed Up Green Salad
I often make green salad with vegetables like cucumbers, tomato and bell peppers for dinner and will reuse it for lunch. Green salad isn’t enough on its own, so I’ll top it with protein like leftover chicken or flavored packets of tuna. (My favorite is Starkist Tuna Creations BOLD Hot Buffalo Style Pouch.) Or I’ll crack open a can of black beans or chickpeas to enjoy with the salad. Just drain and mix in.
One of my favorite lunches is quesadillas. I can add leftovers like chili, grilled chicken or pieces of beef and sprinkle with cheese. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, saute some mushrooms and then place between two whole-wheat tortillas with shredded Cheddar cheese. Serve with salsa, avocado or Greek yogurt.
High Protein Powered French Toast
Emily Rubin, director of Clinical Dietetics at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Philadelphia, likes to make a high protein powered French toast. She uses multigrain bread and dips it in either plant-based milk or low-fat milk with eggs, a scoop of her favorite protein powder and a sprinkle of cinnamon for flavor. For a protein bonus, top with scrambled eggs, or you can top the French toast with fresh fruit.
Chili Baked Potato
Baked potatoes make a hearty lunch, especially when topped with leftover veggies, beef and bean chili, and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. It’s a lunch option Courtney Bliss, a pediatric dietitian based in Phoenix and owner of Feeding Bliss, makes for the whole family when working and learning from home. Bliss recommends serving with a side of roasted broccoli or you can chop the cooked broccoli and sprinkle on top.
White Bean and Tuna Salad
Kathy Siegel, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New Jersey and author of “The 30-Minute Clean Eating Cookbook,” says her go-to quick and easy lunch that she enjoys almost weekly is a white bean and tuna salad. To make, toss together Albacore wild tuna in olive oil with a can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained). Add in black pepper, diced red onion, parsley, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Enjoy over greens or with a hearty slice of whole-grain bread.
Southwest Burrito Mason Jar
Heather Shasa, a registered dietitian and owner of Welding Wellness, a nutrional coaching service in New Jersey, recommends making a Mexican-inspired lunch in a jar. “Using a wide-mouth mason jar, layer the following ingredients: salsa, chopped red onion, rice, low-sodium black beans, corn, low-fat shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, guacamole and shredded lettuce.” It’s perfect for a nutrient-packed lunch at home or to take with you on the go.
Greek Chicken Roll Up
Everything tastes better rolled in tortillas! Lisa Andrews of Sound Bites Nutrition in Cincinnati, Ohio, recommends taking a whole wheat tortilla and adding a smear of Greek yogurt and a shake of dried oregano. Then add a few strips of rotisserie chicken (or grilled chicken), shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers. Roll up and eat! Enjoy with a side of seasonal fruit like apples, pear, grapes or melon.
Cheese Board-Inspired Lunch Plate
“A nourishing and balanced lunch doesn’t require cooking,” says intuitive eating registered dietitian Cara Harbstreet, owner of Street Smart Nutrition in Kansas City, MO. “Simply look to charcuterie boards for work from home lunch inspiration.”
Harbstreet says to start with savory, filling protein options like deli meats and your favorite variety of cheese. Next, add crunchy veggies such as carrots, bell peppers or cucumbers. For flavor, include a dip such as hummus or salsa and pair with your favorite crackers, crisps or chips. Finally, balance the savory flavors with dried or fresh fruit. “A meal like this can be enjoyed throughout the week without repeating the same elements — leading to boredom — or additional trips to the store (you can make more than one serving out of most purchased items),” explains Harbstreet. The combination of ingredients and nutrients in a meal like this can provide the satisfaction and energy you need to remain focused while working from home, as well as save you time thanks to minimal prep and clean-up.
Stepped Up Grilled Cheese
I absolutely love grilled cheese, but for a work from home lunch, I like to take it to the next level. Some of my favorite add-ins for grilled cheese include turkey bacon, chipotle chicken, leftover rotisserie chicken or a spoonful of leftover chili or sloppy Joes.
I also love adding vegetables to step up my grilled cheese. The classic add-in is freshly sliced tomatoes, but you can also use thinly sliced zucchini, chopped broccoli, sliced jalapenos or sauteed spinach. And if you’re looking for a real gourmet spin, try brie and apple or pear.
The author has no affiliation with the brands mentioned in this article.
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