By Vicky McDonald

Let's face it, making work lunch every day is a chore. Perhaps you bring in leftovers to cut down on the work, but how do you jazz them up so lunch is more exciting? Or what do you make if someone eats all the leftovers?

Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to make your work lunch more flavorful and maximize your leftovers (if you have any). With some planning and the right ingredients, you can have a different exciting lunch every day of the work week. Here are 5 simple recipe ideas and easy tricks to take the work out of work lunches.


Photo by Karla Conrad for Eating Well

The key to making work lunches less stressful is to start thinking about the week on Sunday, and it all starts with the shopping. If you have some pantry staples and basic salad ingredients - you're off to a good start. Here are some key things to have on hand.

  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar - red wine/balsamic
  • Quick-cooking pasta (Orzo) or grains (couscous)
  • Cans of beans and corn
  • Nuts - almonds/walnuts/hazelnuts
  • Salad- lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, bell peppers, olives
  • Fruits - citrus / berries
  • Fresh herb - basil/cilantro/parsley
  • Cheese - blue/Feta/Gouda
  • Eggs

Grab and Go Bar

Either buy prepared lettuce and salad items, or wash and prepare them on Sunday, then break them out into 5 portable food containers, so you can grab them each morning from the fridge. These can form the base of a fantastic salad built on leftovers. If you can't rely on having leftovers, make some hard boiled eggs, toast some nuts, and have some beans on hand so you'll have a protein ready to toss on top of the salad.

Dressing Up

Photo by Meredith

Make one decent homemade dressing or buy one that you really love. A good dressing can transform leftovers or a simple salad into something fresh and delicious. You could make a large batch of one simple vinaigrette dressing on Sunday and use this for all lunches during the week. Here are some tried and tested favorites from the site.

A Week's Worth of Awesome Lunches

Monday - Chicken Salad with Seasonal Fruit

Photo by Maisan dujhadi

This chicken salad uses a grilled chicken breast, but you can easily use leftover chicken from Sunday lunch. Simply assemble your prepared salad ingredients together with the chicken, fresh fruit and nuts and your delicious homemade dressing. If you don't have chicken, use some beans or hard boiled eggs.

Tuesday - Black Bean and Couscous Salad

Photo by plantgrub

Couscous is a super quick grain to cook as it's ready in less than 5 minutes. So while you are waiting for the couscous to steam, open a can of black beans, corn, and add some chopped peppers to a bowl, with your homemade dressing. Then, add the couscous and some fresh herbs.

Wednesday - Egg Salad

Photo by Kim's Cooking Now

Stuck for leftovers? Remember those hard-boiled eggs? Add those to a simple salad with your homemade dressing to make a fresh and tasty lunch.

Thursday - Orzo and Tomato Salad with Feta

Photo by Molly

Orzo pasta is one those really quick cooking pastas. When you're cooking dinner, put some orzo on to boil and when dinner is done you can assemble your lunch for tomorrow. Add some cheese, herbs, your delicious dressing and some chopped tomatoes from the fridge.

Friday - Greek Couscous

Photo by mixit

Break out the couscous again to use up the rest of your chopped salad. Add some garbanzo beans to make it more sustaining and some more of your homemade dressing. If you are lucky enough to have some leftover meat, add that in too.