Work lunches that are tasty hot or cold
April 25, 2016 6:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for work lunch ideas that taste good both cold or hot, so I can choose whether or not to reheat them, depending on what the weather's like at lunchtime.

The weather is starting to cool down here, but it's still occasionally nice and warm at lunch time. If it's cold, I like to hide inside and eat a bowl of chili with toast, if warm, I like to sit in the sun with a salad. The fickleness of the weather means I often guess wrong (and then go to the canteen and buy hot chips, as deep fried potatoes are always tasty, independent of the weather).

I don't mind doing some assembly at work. I have access to a large fridge, freezer, toaster oven, sandwich press, microwave and boiling water. I like to eat at least a couple of serves of vegetables at lunchtime. I'm not vegetarian, nor do I have any food restrictions.

(I have memories of a similar question, but I'm unable to find it).
posted by kjs4 to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Salads with a grain base are good either way. If you use a hearty green like kale, it can stand up to heating. For example: Quinoa with edamame and corn. Wheat berries with chopped kale, dried cranberries, tossed in a vinaigrette. Bulgur with parsley and cherry tomatoes (tabbouleh).
posted by beyond_pink at 7:01 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Quiche works well both ways.
posted by ELind at 7:05 PM on April 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

I find that most casseroles are actually pretty edible cold (or room-temp-ish, maybe not fridge-cold). Egg dishes like quiche are often served tepid anyway, and are meant to be pared with a nice vinaigrettey salad. Even a stir-fry, so long as it has nice strong distinct flavors, is pretty good at room temperature.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:06 PM on April 25, 2016

Variations of penne with olive oil, herbs, and mozarella. Cold, it's a pasta salad. Warm, it's a pasta bowl.
posted by mochapickle at 7:09 PM on April 25, 2016 [12 favorites]

Couscous with beans and veg. It's super easy to prep--when you start lunch, put about 1/4c of couscous (the tiny kind) in a container with 1/3 c liquid. Put anywhere from 1/4 to a full tin of drained and rinsed chickpeas atop it, and then add veg of your choice--I usually use frozen spinach because I always have it around, but you can use other frozen veg, or leftover roasted veg, or... Add a little olive oil and lemon juice and now you have a meal that will be delicious cold or heated. If you want to be extra delicious, add some sort of cheese.

It's pleasingly adaptable, too--quinoa or rice instead of couscous, random half-eaten tin of beans instead of chickpeas, etc.
posted by mishafletch at 7:16 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

posted by axismundi at 7:16 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oooh yes, quinoa!

Fried chicken?
posted by SisterHavana at 7:21 PM on April 25, 2016

Soba noodle salad.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:09 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Falafel. Samosas and empanadas. Roasted or pan-fried cooked chickpeas. Meat pies or patties (tourtière, Jamaican patties, Cornish pasties). Cooked potatoes, thick yogurt and dill weed. Cooked pasta mixed with salsa.
posted by maudlin at 8:17 PM on April 25, 2016

Lentils with some kind of mustardy dressing. You can heat them and eat them with tortilla/multigrain chips or leave them cold and eat them with salad veggies.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:26 PM on April 25, 2016

Fritters! One of those amazing things that can be made any number of ways, only limited by your own personal taste.
posted by h00py at 12:36 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Paninis! I love them chilled, room temp, or nice and hot. You can do your basic meats/cheese/veggies -- I personally put in things like spinach, onions, bell peppers, things like that, but it would probably work well with many other veggies.
posted by gloraelin at 12:48 AM on April 26, 2016

Chicken meatballs with a salad.
posted by neushoorn at 6:21 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Might sound weird, but I actually really like tortellini and ravioli with a little sauce (red or pesto) cold. And obviously those are good reheated too.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:30 AM on April 26, 2016

"Mexican" salad: black beans, corn, avocado, pico de gallo/salsa, shredded cheese, chicken.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:36 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

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