Maybe you had visions of fancy lunch dates or making elaborate dishes when you started to work from home. Like me, you may have quickly realized that though you are home, you just don’t have time for complicated lunches. You’ve got a family to take care of, a household to manage, and work to do. And if you are the one that will be preparing dinner it’s just too much of your day spent in the kitchen.
Working from home over the last 11+ years has taught me that simple and healthy work-from-home lunch ideas are the way to go. You want food that is quick and easy but will also keep you awake and alert to go about your afternoon routine.
My nutritional needs have changed over the years and I’ve gone through different styles of eating so I like flexible lunch ideas and that is what I am offering here. While I cannot know your eating style or nutritional needs I will offer suggestions on how you can adjust each idea.
This information is not meant as expert nutrition advice so please consult an expert if needed. Let’s get started and bon appetit with these easy lunch ideas!
Ready For Your Lunch Break?
A Hearty Salad
I say hearty because you want a salad that will fill you up until dinner and give you energy. There are some components to making a great salad.
Greens, Greens, Greens!
Start with a bed of beautiful greens. This will make the base of your salad. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new greens. I love romaine lettuce for crunch and I like to add in spinach for a darker green but I also like arugula. Different greens have different nutrient profiles. If you don’t like something but know it packs a strong punch of nutrition look for ways to make it work.
Kale for instance can be hard to chew but if you massage the kale for a minute with some olive oil before you put it on your salad it softens it up. There are chard and mustard greens. And even dandelion greens- yes like the weeds in your yard. Everyday Health has a great list of salad greens here.
Once you have your greens, the next component I recommend is something crunchy. This can be a sprinkle of seeds or nuts or even bread crumbs or croutons if your diet allows for it. This will add texture to your salad and bonus nutrients. If you are eating dairy you can even melt squares of cheese in the microwave until they go crispy.
A Sweet Touch
Next is something sweet. You don’t have to have this component but if you have a sweet tooth like I do, it is a nice touch. You can add sweetness with berries or dried fruit but also with some cherry tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, or snap peas. I am on a lower-carb vegetarian diet at the moment and working to keep from spiking my blood sugar but I love to add a few cherry tomatoes or low-sugar berries to my salad. Cooked sweet potatoes can make a great addition too if you need the carbs!
As a woman and a breastfeeding mom, I cannot tell you how important healthy fats have been to me. I used to avoid them because I was afraid they would make me gain weight. But they are so good for our hormones and have made a difference in my skin.
I’m big on avocados right now but you may have healthy fats already if you added seeds and nuts or you may get them in your dressing if it’s oil-based. We do have to be careful not to overdo it as fats are higher in calories. Being lower carb I can handle more fats right now and have found that they better fuel my body but you do what works for you.
A Protein Source
As veggies, especially greens, are lower in calories the healthy fats and the protein are what will help create a salad that can keep us full and satiated versus feeling the need to snack in an hour. I am eating vegetarian but also lower carb so I would go for tempeh or tofu for my protein source or another meat alternative. Did you know that broccoli is a good source of balanced protein and essential amino acids? Sometimes it’s great to add a few cooked veggies to your salad like broccoli.
If you are ok with the higher carbs chickpeas are fantastic on a salad along with about any other variety of beans. If you do eat meat you could add chicken, beef, fish, whatever you protein of choice. And cheese. Feta cheese is great on so many salads.
A Great Dressing
A dressing can make or break a salad. Depending on the salad you could go creamy like a beautiful green goddess dressing. Or you could keep it fresh and light with a simple vinaigrette. You could add a splash of lemon or apple cider vinegar. I like to make a tahini dressing to get those added fats. Even white beans can be blended up into a dressing or you can go for a creamy hummus. I love a classic ranch dressing too and you can even make it vegan. You can sprinkle on some nutritional yeast flakes too!
Check out Love and Lemon’s post for healthy salad dressings.
Mix up your salads. While I believe in getting as many leafy greens in as we can for all the minerals and health benefits they offer you don’t have to make a green salad. You could have a bean salad one day. A Greek salad with olives and feta. You could have a healthy pasta salad or egg salad. There are so many options. Visit our Pinterest board on work-from-home lunch ideas for inspiration and recipes. Salads are easy to adjust to different diets and nutritional needs so don’t be afraid to mix things up and explore different options.
Mason Jar Salad
You can also make your salads ahead of time by layering ingredients in a mason jar. Just keep the dressing separate so it doesn’t get soggy. All you have to do then is take it out of the fridge, add your dressing, and enjoy.
It’s a great way to eat the rainbow at your midday meal!
Specialty Toast Or Open Faced Sandwich
Who knew the humble toast could make a great and filling lunch but with a little finesse, it can. Toast makes a great base that you can use for different toppings to make a filling lunch when working from home. It’s quick and easy.
One of my go-tos is avocado toast. You simply add sliced or mashed avocado on top with sliced tomatoes. You can add a runny egg, scrambled eggs, or poached egg for some protein and can even add cheese if you so desire. I love to sprinkle mine with sea salt and chili pepper flakes for a kick.
Another great option is bruschetta. You can slice or finely chop the tomatoes, and add some slices of mozzarella, and some fresh basil. Basil is a great herb to grow at home. Check out the smart garden in our Work From Home Gift Guide to grow fresh herbs. I love my basil plant!
You can drizzle your bruschetta with a balsamic glaze which you can easily purchase at most supermarkets. It looks posh but makes a fast lunch.
Because I like to get in my greens sprouts are a great addition to the top of your open-faced sandwich.
What I love about this meal idea is that you can adjust the bread to fit your needs. You could use wheat bread, sprouted bread, sourdough, or even a low-carb keto bread to make it work for you.
Tortilla Pizzas and Wraps
Tortillas can be such a lifesaver when you are in a pinch and need something fast. I like to always keep a pack in the freezer so I have them on hand. Just like the bread in the last idea you can change up your tortillas to meet different needs. You can use sprouted tortillas, corn, or low-carb versions. There are tortillas now made out of flax seed and even tofu. Tortillas are a great work-from-home lunch staple to keep around.
You can use them for a pizza base layer, add your sauce, and then load them up with veggies and pop them in your toaster oven. You can make quesadillas. We love veggie quesadillas with broccoli, carrots, and onions with a layer of cheese and a side of Greek yogurt for dipping.
You can add your filling and roll them into a wrap or cut them in pinwheels.
Our toddler loves tortilla meals too so this is a great one when I need to feed her before her nap and get back to work.
We also love toastadas. I like to keep a can of refried beans on hand. Spread it on a hard corn tostada shell and top with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Add some sour cream and cheese and delish!
You can add your choice of plant-based protein, some healthy fats, and veggies. They are great with hummus!
Stir-Fry And One Pan Meals
The thing I love about stir fry is that it is easy to prep the ingredients ahead of time. I can chop extra veggies from dinner one night and keep them ready to throw in a pan for lunch. You can mix up the veggies that you use. Think onions, bell peppers, snap peas, edamame, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli. I like crunchy veggies when it comes to stir fry so you don’t have to cook very long.
Add your protein and liquid aminos or soy sauce. You could also go with a teriyaki sauce if you prefer. You can prep your protein ahead of time too. You could have it marinating overnight in the fridge and then pop it in a pan or air fryer.
You can eat it alone or serve it over a bed of rice or quinoa. I love our Instant Pot for cooking rice fast while I am doing other things.
These are great to throw together when you have leftovers. You can put your grain of choice in a bowl and add your toppings. Think rice with beans and sweet potatoes. When I’m higher carb I like a taco-flavored bowl with beans, rice, sweet potatoes, avocado, and peppers. These bowls can be so nourishing and feel like comfort food. They are great for chilly days.
Speaking of chili that can make another great bowl of meat or bean chili. You can have the beans and grains cooked ahead of time along with pan-roasted vegetables and then just put everything together and warm it up at lunchtime.
Again experiment. I like to have a bowel with cous cous. Cous Cous can be ready in 5 minutes. You just pour hot water over it and let it sit then fluff it up. It’s great with hummus and arugula. Amaranth is another grain to try for your power bowls. Power bowls and grain bowls are a healthy dish that can be made in so many different ways. You can also make them a meal prep bowl and have them ready ahead of time.
It’s a bit unusual but our toddler loves seaweed sheets and it is another staple I like to keep on hand for quick work-from-home lunches. You can use nori sheets and then stuff them with brown rice or cauliflower rice for a low-carb option. You can add fish or tofu and the veggies of your choice like strips of carrots or cucumbers. Serve with a side of soy sauce for dipping and maybe even some pickled ginger.
If you’re really brave add a bit of wasabi.
This is a fun idea and something different when you don’t want to cook. You can simply make a spread of veggies, cheeses, and nuts on a board with a great dip. I like to do a board with olives, figs, and mozzarella. For dip, you could do ranch or hummus or even a salsa depending on what is on the board. There are so many different board ideas. The best part of cold lunch ideas is eating them on hot days when you don’t feel like being in the kitchen. Having fresh veggies already cut up in the fridge makes this lunch even easier.
Make it colorful and pretty and feel like you are having your own little work from home party.
If you eat eggs you can make a simple frittata and load it up with veggies and your protein of choice and cook it all in one skillet. Add a sprinkle of cheese on top and bake it. This is something you can make when you are on a break and then set a timer while baking.
What are Your Favorite WFH Lunch ideas?
Remember, to balance the essential nutrients and try to incorporate foods that have a lot of vitamins and minerals so you will feel energized throughout the afternoon rather than sluggish.
These are versatile ideas that can be adjusted according to your preferences and needs. And if you are a breastfeeding momma like I am it is even more important to make sure you are getting enough calories and nutrients. Look for ways to prepare extra ingredients when you are making family dinners so you have ingredients to work with for your lunches. This will make lunch prep much faster. I’m not a huge fan of leftovers but if I have leftover ingredients that I can combine the next day into a new lunch it saves me so much time as a busy work-from-home mom.
Uninspiring lunches can be made into nourishing and inviting meals by incorporating more textures and colors. You can adjust for low carb or higher carb. You can adjust the fats and proteins as needed. On days when I’m just not that hungry soup or a smoothie make a great lunch too.
Did I miss your favorite lunch idea? Let us know about it in the comments.
Do you love a lunch salad or are you a big fan of warm meals? You can always look for slow cooker meal ideas too and let them cook all morning so the food is ready for a hearty lunch. Try different flavors and experiment to find your favorite quick lunches. Notice how these quick meals make you feel for the rest of the afternoon. I hope this list gave you a ton of ideas to get started. Create your basic formula and build from there.
Be sure to check out the Pinterest board of Work From Home Lunch Ideas for more. And don’t forget to follow.