20 Easy and Flavorful Lunches Perfect for Work-from-Home Days
Whether you're a full-time remote employee or you're newly adjusting to the work-from-home lifestyle, you'll likely agree that a workday lunch prepped in your home kitchen boasts flavor-based and nutritional benefits that a brown-bag PB&J or a take-out salad can't quite match. If you're looking to shake up your work-from-home lunch rotation, take a look at these 20 recipes, all perfectly suited for a midday repast to keep you fueled throughout your email exchanges and afternoon Zoom meetings.
Skillet Burrito Bowl
Missing those fully-loaded burrito bowls you used to grab from Chipotle during your lunch break? With only a skillet, a small handful of ingredients, and 15 minutes of prep time, you can create your own version at home. "Spoon into bowls and top with sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, lettuce, etc.," advises recipe writer earlzey.
Curry Stand Chicken Tikka Masala
Dishes with vibrant and fragrant spices often cause microwave drama in office kitchens, but when you're working from home, there's no need to avoid the seasoned foods you crave. Case in point: this flavorful spin on chicken tikka masala, "This is THE tikka masala recipe for the masses as well as the elites! Simple to prepare and wonderful to consume," raves commenter DLECOUNT about this recipe.
Spinach Artichoke Quiche
The brunch staple known as quiche makes an especially appealing weekday lunch when it merges with cheesy, comforting spinach artichoke dip. Commenter just_jam describes this spinach artichoke quiche as "nice, light, and tasty."
Chef John's Shakshuka
"This North African one-dish-meal is so fast, easy, and delicious," says Chef John of his highly customizable shakshuka recipe, which takes only 45 minutes to complete. This dish delivers tang, spice, and plenty of protein. Serve with a side of pita to sop up the extra sauce.
Blueberry Smoothie Bowl
"Smoothie bowls" are a massively trendy offering frequently found at hip cafes and food trucks, but all you need to make your own is a powerful blender, an assortment of fruit, and some cashew butter for texture. Don't have cashew butter on hand? Follow commenter allison morgan's lead and "use peanut butter instead."
Easy French Dip Sandwiches
A lunch counter icon that's a bit tricky (and messy) to eat in an office break room (and therefore perfect for WFH life), the French Dip sandwich combines deli roast beef, nutty Provolone, soft bread, and a rich dipping jus that amps up the beefy flavor quotient. "I made this for my son and I tonight. He said this is better than Arby's!" commenter MindyMaxwell says in support of this simple French Dip recipe.
If you need to use up some stale Italian bread or baguette, panzanella salad provides the perfect opportunity to jazz up those past-their-prime baked goods. This recipe utilizes basil, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and balsamic vinegar (resulting in a dish that cook Marie C. calls "bruschetta in a bowl"), but you can feel free to substitute any veggies or herbs that you have available.
Easy Chicken and Corn Chowder
This low-maintenance and hearty soup requires less than 30 minutes of prep time. Get it started before you power up your computer for the workday, and you'll have a satisfying meal ready for you by lunchtime. For an even easier process, use a crockpot rather than your stovetop.
Slow-Carb Larb Gai
"Spicy, tangy, salty, and delicious!" — all adjectives used by recipe writer Heather to explain her version of larb gai, a traditional Northern Thai dish made with ground chicken, ginger, lime, and an abundance of aromatic herb. The recipe suggests serving the larb with butter lettuce leaves for wrapping, but it's equally tasty over rice.
Avocado Toast With Crumbled Crispy Pancetta
Sure, avocado toast may now be a bit of a Millennial punchline, but that doesn't change the fact that it's nourishing, flavorful, and ripe for additions and experimentations. "Real Housewives of New York City" star Dorinda Medley serves hers with a poached egg and a sprinkling of crispy pancetta, creating a dish that commenter Tamsie lauds as "a nice change from the usual eggs and bacon. Absolutely delicious and so easy to prepare."
Zesty Quinoa Salad
Grain salads make for an excellent source of energy, and the popular ancient rice alternative known as quinoa earns extra points for its high levels of protein and fiber. "This bright and colorful salad is a great summertime recipe (or anytime you want to feel like it's summertime). Light and citrusy, it's a whole new way to enjoy quinoa. Lime juice and cilantro give a refreshing kick, while quinoa and black beans provide tasty vegan protein," recipe creator scrumdiddly of her Southwestern-inspired twist on quinoa salad.
A street-food superstar in its home country of Vietnam, banh mi now claims major popularity throughout the U.S., with diners attracted to its combination of tangy pickled vegetables, sandwich meats, and crusty French baguette. Cook Mollycurls77 considers this particular banh mi recipe "so flavourful! I really enjoyed the pickled vegetables and I didn't find it time consuming to do at all."
Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad
Pasta salad features prominently among the usual office-lunch suspects, but when you're working from home, you have the chance to really nail the flavor and texture blends, avoiding the curse of the Soggy Desk Salad. According to recipe creator thedailygourmet, this version is "the traditional Caprese salad, modified to pasta form."
Classic Cuban Midnight Sandwich
A close cousin of the Cubano sandwich, the "medianoche" consists of roast pork, ham, pickles, and Swiss cheese, all piled onto a sweet bread roll and grilled to perfection. It's indulgent, handheld, and easy to make- all ideal traits for a WFH lunch treat.
Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup
Substantial soups with plenty of texture and a variety of ingredients are work-from-home heroes for good reason. This tortellini soup, packed with veggies and made with a rich beef stock, tomato, and red wine base, can be made the night before and quickly reheated in time for lunch.
If you're able to locate fresh fish at your supermarket or local fishmonger, then you'll be ready to prep a batch of poké, a highly-nutritious raw seafood salad regularly served in Hawaii. This recipe mixes sushi-grade tuna with soy sauce, mirin, sesame seeds, avocado, and Sriracha, yielding a spicy, sweet, savory, and crave-worthy afternoon meal.
Air Fryer Falafel
An air fryer can transform deep-fried dishes like falafel into lightweight lunch champions that will excite your tastebuds and keep you full and energized without weighing you down. This recipe takes a bit of advance planning, but the steps are easy to execute and the flavor proves well-worth any extra effort.
For a WFH lunch that whets your appetite for sweet stuff while still remaining a nutritionally-sound choice, try a fruit and yogurt parfait. Recipe writer Natalie likes to use vanilla yogurt, blackberries, and granola in her parfaits, stating that "this [parfait] is delicious for breakfast, [as a] snack, even for a dessert! It looks great in a glass, but can also be made in a bowl. Use your favorite fruit, or whatever is in season."
Cobb salad, a longtime fixture on restaurant lunch menus, has a lot to recommend it to WFH lunch creators. It's heavy on protein, it includes textural contrast, it's easy to prepare, and it features bacon, avocado, and blue cheese.
French Onion Soup Gratinee
French onion soup seems daunting to first-timers, but this recipe from Jersey Tomato strikes a perfect balance between detail-oriented and entry-level. "This is the version of French onion soup that people seek when they go to restaurants. I have been making it for 30 years and it never fails to please. It makes an exquisite presentation, too!" the recipe author insists.