What's for lunch?
April 9, 2015 1:53 AM   Subscribe

For the past couple of months I have been eating the same thing each day at work for lunch. This has been a soup made up of steamed chicken breast with frozen vegetables and a teaspoon of miso paste. It has worked surprisingly well. Now I need some more simple ideas.

I have access to: a microwave, fridge, hot water, toaster and panini press. I have no dietary restrictions but don't really find lettuce based salads satisfying.

I live in Australia and am able to get Asian ingredients really but probably not Mexican unless Old El Passo counts.

I would like a simple to prepare lunch or one that can be made on the weekend and frozen and is roughly 1500kJ/ 360 calories. I've tried the Serious Eats Diy ramen but didn't find the flavours that great.

Please share your ideas with me.
posted by poxandplague to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
A nice simple lunch is roasted vegetables (aubergine, courgette, bell peppers, squashes) with couscous or quinoa (or a mix of the two). You can add sliced chicken breast for protein, and even add chopped mint leaves, green onion, and/or dried apricots. You can prep everything beforehand, or just prep the vegetables and meat and then make instant couscous at work.
posted by neushoorn at 4:44 AM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Time for me to recommend my usual cookbook recommendation.

That is nothing but a collection of soups and salads (and by "salads" I don't just mean "green leafy", there are a lot of bean and grain salads in there as well). It's called "The Daily Special" because the Moosewood Restaurant always has a couple different soups of the day and a couple different salads of the day, and their "Daily Lunch Special" lets customers pick one soup and one salad as a combo plate. So everything in it is already capable of being mixed-and-matched with other things for lunches.

Especially in summer, I'm prone to picking a couple different recipes on the weekend and making a couple of big batches of whatever I've picked and just keeping them in the fridge, and then packing my bag lunch is simply a matter of opening the fridge and picking "hmm....I'll take THIS one and THIS one today". Or I make a simple sandwich and pack a bit of the salad. Or I'll have a plain piece of cooked chicken and a bit of the soup. Or whatever.

I don't know about freezing things, but everything I've made stands up to being stored in a refrigerator and gradually eaten through over the course of a week or so. And a lot of the recipes are indeed easy ("chop everything, dump it in a pot, simmer for 30 minutes, done").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:44 AM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I am very fond of Alton Brown's Curried Green Pea Soup. You can pretty easily add meat to it (I've never tried chicken, but ham works very well (I fry a slab at the beginning, fish it out for the pureeing, and then dice it and throw it back in.

This lentil dish works well as is (although you probably want a smaller portion to fit your calorie needs; it's pretty hearty), but you can also omit the sausages (and bacon, if you like), then serve it hot or cold on greens with a bit of cheese (feta is good, but any soft mild-ish cheese should do).

Both recipes can be made from vegan to fiull-on meat bonanza with little effort. You can easily make a double batch and be eating all week, and both freeze tolerably well.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:05 AM on April 9, 2015

One of my favorite lunches (especially in the colder months) is Lorna Sass's Brown and Wehani Rice Casserole with Tomatoes and Feta from Whole Grains: Every Day, Every Way . You mix 3 cups cooked brown rice (you can substitute lots of other cooked grains; I like pearled barley, too) with diced canned or chopped fresh tomatoes (~16 oz), half a cup of chopped pitted olives, about the same of cubed or crumbled feta (cheddar works nicely, too), fresh or dried thyme/oregano/basil/herb of choice, salt/pepper/olive oil to taste, and pop it in the oven until it's brown and bubbly. I usually make a double recipe to last me & Mrs. CC the week. Yum. Pair with your favorite frozen veg or a giant heaping helping of sauteed leafy green vegetables. Could probably also make it go further by pairing it with some chicken or sausage or mini burgers or something like that.
posted by carrioncomfort at 5:48 AM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

My go-to is microwave/tea kettle oatmeal. It's ready in a minute, and can be customized with banana, raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, vanilla, sugar or other flavourings.
posted by Harald74 at 6:31 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you can wrangle access to an oven for a hour or two, it expands your horizons hugely. Lasagna, casserole, and such things can be made in massive portions and eaten off of for weeks.

My wife also uses a crock-pot in much the same way as a slower oven.
posted by Jacen at 6:59 AM on April 9, 2015

I don't mind eating simple things for lunch either but I have to keep it interesting. Here are my recent ideas:

- Toasted crumpets with lemon curd or peanut butter (lately, cookie dough flavored peanut butter... )
- Canned caponata/eggplant on crackers or pita
- Cottage cheese on black bread/toast
posted by easter queen at 7:40 AM on April 9, 2015

This is my suggestion in every single simple lunch thread.

For months and months I ate the same thing every day: couscous, chickpeas, and frozen spinach, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and sometimes a little cheese. It's great because it requires no prep--you can just keep a couple tins of chickpeas around (one ~400g tin will be 2-3 days of meals) and some spinach (I do frozen, because it's less work and cheaper, but fresh works too). If you want to eat it at room temp, mix equal parts couscous and water in the morning, then top with spinach and chickpeas, and let it sit until lunch; if you want it hot, pour boiling water over the couscous, etc, about five-ten minutes before you want to eat. If you're the sort to have preserved lemon around, mashing some into olive oil makes a great dressing that's fine at room temperature.

My favorite thing, though, is that it's super easy to change up. Subbing in leftover veggies from supper, or adding a little cheese, or throwing in olives and putting Greek dressing on it...but in its base form, can live at your office forever, waiting for you to be hungry, and when that happens, it's ready to go in under ten minutes, of which thirty seconds requires actual work.
posted by MeghanC at 10:02 AM on April 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

-microwaved potato with spinach & fat free sour cream (or make the spinach dip with veg bits & water chestnuts)

-soup made with concentrated liquid beef boullion, peas, carrots, turkey kielbasa slices

-your standard soup you've had for lunch but add quinoa and kale or spinach to it until it's thick

-use some of that Old El Paso salsa & some fat free sour cream over scrambled eggs (eggs 30 seconds in microwave, another 30 seconds & stir, add'l time in 15 second increments as needed.

-sautéed cabbage & onion, add favorite protein and/or cheese to it
posted by IpsoFacto at 2:38 PM on April 9, 2015

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