Here we are well into the second year of the coronavirus pandemic and for many of us, returning to the office full-time seems like less of a reality each day. Contrary to what many managers expected at the beginning of the pandemic, companies are finding their employees to be more productive when they work from home.
One big reason for this is that lunch takes a backseat to work and other household tasks. In a survey of 2,000 people funded by Freshly, we can see some shocking statistics about how one of our favorite meals of the day has been neglected or forgotten altogether. For example, 1 in 4 people does not take a meal break during the workday, and over half of responders say that nutrition takes a backseat when it comes to deciding their WFH lunches.
If these statistics tell us anything, it’s that we all need to slow down, remember to eat, and take care of our most valuable asset — our bodies. We’ve reached out to chefs, nutritionists, dietitians, and food bloggers across the internet to bring you eleven delicious recipes that are quick, easy, and will fuel your body and mind. These recipes are prep-ahead friendly. So, dust off your meal prep containers and plan for a workweek full of delicious lunches.
This light and easy summer recipe comes from executive chef David Baker of ChefSent.com, a web-based platform that connects people with personal chefs in their hometowns. You can use leftover fried or grilled chicken and fresh or frozen mango to create a delicious, quick lunch that can be served hot or cold.
- 10″ or 12″ flour tortilla
- 1/4 cup mango chunks small-medium dice (if using frozen thaw overnight in fridge)
- 1/2 cup shredded chicken (grilled or fried)
- 1/4 cucumber halved and sliced thin
- 2-3 thin slices of red onion
- 2-3 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
- juice of 1 large or 2 small limes
- 2.5 tablespoons of mayo
- 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle powder (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick frying pan over medium heat.
- Heat chicken in the microwave for 45 to 60 seconds (optional)
- In a small bowl whisk together mayo, cilantro, lime juice, and chipotle powder (optional).
- In a medium bowl toss all ingredients with the cilantro-lime mayo.
- Toast both sides of the tortilla in the pan for 45-60 seconds.
- Place tossed ingredients inside the tortilla, roll, slice in half, and serve.
This fresh and vegan-friendly lunch recipe is brought to you by Choosing Chia, a blog that brings you healthy vegetarian recipes. Be sure to prep a large batch of this ahead of time because it’s great in sandwiches, wraps, or salads.
- 14oz can of chickpeas, drained
- 3 tbsp hummus (can sub mayo or vegan mayo)
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 3 tbsp capers, chopped
- 1 handful dill, chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 green leaf lettuce leaves
- 1/2 cucumber sliced
- 2 slices of wheat bread
- Smash the chickpeas using a potato masher, fork, or food processor, then add the remaining chickpea salad ingredients to the bowl and mix together. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Lightly toast the bread, then assemble the sandwich with lettuce, cucumber, chickpea salad, and any other sandwich ingredients you love.
Chef and licensed dietitian Vahista Ussery — founder of ToTaste.com a web-based resource center for all things culinary. These turkey meatballs prep and cook up quickly. They’re also delicious on their own or in a sandwich or pasta.
- 1 pound ground turkey, 93% lean or more
- ¼ cup finely diced shallot or onion
- ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- ¼ cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
- ¼ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 large egg
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- Dash pepper
- 1 Tablespoon canola or avocado oil
- Preheat over to 425 degrees.
- Place turkey in a large bowl. Add shallot, bread crumbs, pesto, tomatoes, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix until just combined.
- Brush a baking sheet with oil. Create golf ball-sized meatballs with your hands or a portion scoop and place them on the pan, spacing them about 1 inch apart.
- Cook meatballs for 12-14 minutes or until cooked through to 165° F.
Here’s another tasty vegan dish from our friends at the Health My Lifestyle food blog. This is a dish that can be made in big batches and reheated for lunches throughout the week. It also freezes well so you can save some for an ultra-busy day down the road.
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
- 6 oz low-sodium tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½-1 teaspoon salt, to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 15 oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 15 oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots, and sauté until soft and translucent, adding more water as necessary to keep from sticking to the pan; about 5 minutes.
- Add the bell pepper, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Sauté for couple minutes to allow the seasonings to meld.
- Add the broth and beans. Stir well to combine.
- Increase heat to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cover and let the mixture simmer until it has thickened and liquid has reduced, about 15-20 minutes.
- Simmer for up to an hour for deeper flavor, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings to preference.
- Top with desired toppings. (such as avocado, cilantro, dairy-free sour cream or yogurt)
These salmon-avocado boats are an excellent luncheon meal for all our pescatarian pals out there. It’s super quick and easy, plus it delivers a large dose of healthy omega fats. Thanks to Dish on Fish for this great recipe!
- ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp. light or olive oil mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ cup celery, finely chopped
- ½ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed
- ¼ tsp. cumin
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (can use more, for additional spiciness)
- 2 (5-oz.) cans or pouches salmon, drained and flaked (can use left over salmon as well)
- 2 avocados
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Hot sauce, for garnish (optional)
- In a medium bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients (yogurt through cayenne pepper); mix well.
Add salmon to bowl; mix well.
- Cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove pits. Scoop about 1 tbsp. of the flesh from each avocado half and add it to salmon mixture; mash well. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Fill each avocado half with ¼ cup of the salmon mixture, creating a mound on top of avocado halves. Drizzle with hot sauce, if desired.
If you’re wondering who Faye is, it’s Libby Hakim’s mother-in-law — founder of Cooking with Nina Ling. This recipe is a testament to the idea that maybe we should all be nicer to our mothers-in-law. These parlsey fritters whip up in a jiffy and are great for lunch, breakfast, or mid-day snack.
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 medium onion
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 cup self-rising flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch baking soda
- Finely chop the onion and add to the parsley.
- Whisk eggs and add to the mixture.
- Add milk and stir to combine.
- Add all of the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. The mixture should be a little thicker than cake batter.
- Shallow fry tablespoonfuls of the mixture in vegetable oil (pressing down slightly in the pan), turning halfway through cooking so the fritters are a golden color.
Here’s another freezer-friendly, one-dish meal from our friends at Workweek Lunch. This casserole has only a ten-minute prep time and 30-minute cook time. So throw it in the oven before your 11 am zoom call and have a piping hot meal for your lunch break.
- cooking spray
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 2 small zucchini sliced into rounds
- ½ tsp oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup orzo
- 16 oz ground beef ( or sub ground meat of your choice)
- 1 shallot chopped
- 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes sub marinara sauce
- ½ cup ricotta cheese see dairy-free options in the notes below
- 1 cup shredded cheese such as mozzarella. (I used a Mexican blend)
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- Preheat your oven to 350 F and prepare a large baking dish with cooking spray.
- Add half the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.
- After a minute or two, add the sliced zucchini, salt, pepper, and oregano.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the zucchini rounds are tender-crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the skillet with the ground meat, chopped shallot and more salt and pepper.
- Break up the ground meat with a wooden spoon and cook, stirring frequently, until it’s no longer pink, about 7-10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add the uncooked orzo, cooked zucchini, cooked beef, crushed tomatoes, ricotta cheese, shredded cheese, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together.
- Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until it’s bubbling at the edges.
When it comes to delicious sandwiches, few can top the diverse flavor profile of a banh-mi. This veggie-friendly version comes to us from The New Bagette, and boy is it tasty! This recipe yields about two sandwiches, so you can enjoy a second one for dinner if you can show restraint at lunchtime.
For the Quick-Pickled Carrots
- 3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar (apple cider or red wine vinegar also work)
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
For the Sandwiches
- 2 medium Portobello mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed or grated
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small cucumbers (preferably Persian), sliced lengthwise paper-thin
- ½ packed cup cilantro leaves
- 2 Vietnamese baguettes or Portuguese rolls, lightly toasted
Start with the carrots:
- In a jar or bowl, whisk together the vinegar, water, maple syrup, and salt until dissolved.
- Add the carrots, making sure all the pieces are submerged.
- Let stand while you prep the rest of the ingredients. (These will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.)
Prep the sandwich:
- Clean the mushroom caps with a damp paper towel.
- Using a spoon, gently scrape out the gills and discard and trim the stems.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the soy sauce and garlic.
- Add the mushrooms and massage to coat in the marinade. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, turning the mushrooms once halfway through to ensure they’re marinating evenly.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the mayo and hot sauce. Taste and add more hot sauce if you prefer more heat. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Discard excess marinade from the mushrooms and place them in the skillet.
- Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side (thicker mushrooms need more time than thinner ones), until the ‘shrooms are softened and lightly browned.
- Remove from the skillet and set aside for 5 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Then slice the mushrooms into ⅓-inch-thick slices.
- To serve, divide the spicy mayo among the rolls and layer in the cucumbers, mushrooms, carrots, and cilantro. Serve immediately.
For all our keto diet people, this recipe comes from a leader in low-carb lifestyles — Wholesome Yum. You’ll be chowing down on this fresh and crispy salad in under 20 minutes, so we don’t want to hear any excuses about not having time to eat. It’s yet another meal that holds well in the fridge (if you separate the dressing), so feel free to double or even triple this recipe.
- 1/2 cup Caesar salad dressing
- 1 lb Shrimp (peeled, deveined, and patted dry)
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 head Romaine lettuce (chopped; ~8 cups)
- 2 cups Roma tomatoes (diced)
- 6 tbsp Parmesan cheese (shaved or shredded; omit for dairy-free)
- In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning to coat evenly.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer. Sear for 1 minute, until they begin to brown. Flip and sear another 1-2 minutes, until cooked through.
- In a large bowl, toss the chopped romaine with caesar dressing, tomatoes, and parmesan. Divide among plates or bowls. Top each serving with Cajun shrimp.
Okay, sometimes you are too busy to prepare and eat a meal, it happens. This go-green smoothie recipe from Registered Holistic Nutritionist Dave Coast will provide you a delicious meal-replacement shake you can take on the go in five minutes or less.
- Celery (3 ribs)
- Romaine Lettuce (½ head)
- Honey crisp apple (⅓ of apple)
- Lemon (1 squeezed)
- Avocado (¼ of avocado)
- Banana (1 full)
- Spinach (1 large handful)
- Water (16-24 oz)
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on med-high for 40-60 seconds.
For all of our meat and potatoes guys, we haven’t forgotten about you. This recipe comes from Instant Pot cooking guru Corrie Cooks. The Instant Pot was made for quick and easy one-pot meals, and this one will not disappoint. You can churn out a filling and delicious meal (with leftovers) in 15 minutes.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 packets sausages chicken, beef or turkey, sliced to 1-inch pieces
- 6 potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 2 tsp fresh garlic
- 2 scallions chopped to garnish
- Press “saute,” add oil and saute the sausages, onion, and bell pepper for 5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes.
- Once done, do a quick pressure release.
- Open the lid and enjoy! You can garnish with chopped scallions.
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