If you’re so busy during the day that you often skip lunch or snack on whatever’s at hand, only to find yourself cranky and ravenous at 4 p.m., there’s a better way. We’ve got some easy and fun lunch ideas you can make ahead or in the moment, as well as tips for turning leftovers into lunches you’ll love. Search thousands of recipes based on what you’re craving that day; many can be made in just minutes. Let Yummly be your new go-to guide for simple, satisfying, healthy lunches the whole family will love…
Turning Dinner into Lunch
With a little creativity, last night’s dinner can be repurposed to become today’s delicious and easy lunch. All it takes is a little meal prep. For example, if you had rotisserie chicken and rice for dinner last night, make burrito bowls for lunch: Layer the cooked rice with shredded chicken. Add a ¼ cup each of canned corn and black beans. Garnish with sliced avocado, shredded cheese, and salsa or hot sauce.
Instead of packing leftovers from last night’s pork roast for lunch, turn that meat into warm, toasty Italian Pork Melts! Piled onto sandwich rolls with pesto, roasted red peppers, and mozzarella cheese, you might find this pork’s second life is even more delicious than its first.
If you cooked more rice last night than your family could eat, today’s lunch recipe can be fried rice that tastes just like it came from your favorite Chinese restaurant. All you’ll need is the rice (white or brown), sesame oil, a couple eggs, some chopped fresh or frozen vegetables, and soy sauce. Customize it to your liking with any leftover protein, like shrimp, ham, or chicken. Try Better than Takeout Ham Fried Rice, Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice, or BLT Fried Rice, or search through the thousands of other fried rice recipes on Yummly. Or, if it’s cooked quinoa that’s languishing in your fridge, try Quinoa “Fried Rice.”
Fun and Easy Desk Lunches
Skip the fast food and bring your lunch to work or school! It’s a simple way to cut costs as well as calories. But it doesn’t have to be a boring turkey or peanut butter sandwich. Make your lunch extra-fresh by bringing all the fixings from home and assembling your meal at lunchtime. Make satisfying, low-carb lettuce wraps: Fill butter lettuce leaves with chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad. To make work lunches even more interesting, team up with your coworkers; each day, one of you brings lunch for all the others.
Or try a jar salad: The night before, layer your favorite ingredients in a Mason jar, with the dressing at the very bottom. Refrigerate overnight, and at lunchtime, all you have to do is pour the contents of the jar into a large bowl, stir to mix thoroughly, and enjoy! Yummly has thousands of jar salad ideas, like Artichoke and Tortellini Mason Jar Salad, Mason Jar Loaded Tuna Salad, Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Mason Jar Salad, or Mexican Salad in a Jar. One tip to remember when making jar salads is to put the dressing at the bottom of the jar, followed by a sturdy ingredient that won’t wilt or absorb too much dressing (carrots and other crunchy vegetables are good choices). Place anything delicate, like lettuce leaves, at the very top of the jar. Your jar salad will stay fresh and ready to eat for up to 3 days in the fridge!
Easy Vegetarian Lunches
Veggie-packed salads are a great option if you’re trying to eat a healthy lunch. A spinach salad or kale salad packs a ton of nutrients; throw in chopped romaine if you like a little crunch. Blue cheese or goat cheese on top adds flavor and creaminess, sliced strawberries or orange segments bring sweetness, and a few nuts or seeds offer a nice crunch. Go light on the dressing, but don’t skip it altogether: the oil in a vinaigrette helps your body absorb the nutrients in vegetables better. Plus, dressing adds flavor that ties a salad together.
If you’re on a low-carb or gluten-free diet, try Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles, tossed in a flavorful tomato-olive sauce. Double up on the zucchini and serve crispy, cheesy (and healthy!) Baked Zucchini Chips on the side.
Don’t overlook soup as a lunch option, especially on a cold day. Making soup from scratch is really simple; for most recipes it’s just a matter of sautéing diced vegetables to lay a foundation of flavor, adding water or stock and seasoning, and then tossing in the main ingredients, like meat, grains, pasta, beans, or more vegetables. Soups can be thick and chunky, or velvety smooth.
Yummly has tons of easy recipes for any kind of soup that might strike your fancy. Easy Butternut Squash Soup is a perfect recipe for a fall lunch. 10-Minute Paleo Tomato Soup is gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and has just 7 ingredients. And Creamy Zucchini Soup is a tasty light lunch that has just 60 calories per serving.
If you like a chunkier soup, a hearty minestrone, bean soup, or chowder might be just the ticket. How about Easy White Bean, Kale, and Sausage Soup? Instant Pot New England Clam Chowder, studded with chunks of potato, clams, and bacon in a rich creamy broth, takes only 35 minutes from start to finish. If you’re eating vegetarian, try Lentil Vegetable Soup. Don’t forget about comforting chicken noodle soup—Yummly has dozens of takes on this favorite recipe. Or try an Asian take on it: Thai Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup, rich with ginger, green curry and coconut milk, along with chicken and noodles.
If you like, add a garnish to your soup just before eating—it adds color, flavor, and texture to really complete your meal. Some easy ideas for garnishes are:
- A spoonful of Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Chopped herbs (chives, parsley, cilantro)
- Grated or crumbled cheese (goat cheese, Parmesan, cheddar)
Easy Lunch Dessert
Reward yourself for being a lunch rock star with a little something sweet: search Yummly for easy cookie recipes or other sweet treats you can whip up for after your meal.
From soup to salad, from veggies to meat dishes, from desk lunches to at-home recipes, Yummly is your source for easy, tasty, satisfying midday meals.