Sure, ordering out lunch every day at work saves us a lot of time and effort from shopping, prepping and cooking meals, but let’s face it: it doesn’t do our pockets – or our waistlines – any good!
To save you from indulging in unnecessary calories and to help you save a penny or two, we’ve listed our favourite recipes that are healthy, easy to follow and perfect for any work environment.
Here are 10 homemade lunch ideas for work that will leave your colleagues begging you to swap meals!
1. Vegetable Stir Fry
This meal idea is great if you’re limited for time and you’re on a budget!
In just 15 minutes, you can cook a nutritious meal packed with healthy fats and antioxidants. The plus side? This dish will keep for up to three days in the fridge, so you can cook enough for two or three lunches!
To make the stir fry, you will need to lightly fry the following ingredients and add the cooked noodles and sauce at the end:
- egg noodles (add whole wheat for extra fibre)
- bell peppers
- green beans
- Chinese five-spice
- oyster sauce
- soy sauce
2. Chickpea Burger Wrap
Chickpeas are not only delicious but also a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre that aid weight management, improve digestion and support blood sugar control.
Chickpeas can be cooked in several ways, but an easy option for lunch is to make some baked burgers. To do so, mix a can of drained chickpeas into a blender with a peeled carrot, paprika, salt, pepper and chilli powder, and then shape and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
To turn these burgers into a mouth-watering lunch, place them in a soft wrap with a spoonful of hummus.
3. Chicken Pesto Pasta
For a good dose of protein, opt for a chicken-based meal.
To create this delicious lunch that can be enjoyed either hot or cold, simply dice and brown some chicken (with your seasoning of choice) before mixing boiled pasta into the chicken. Add a spoonful of pesto and parmesan to craft a restaurant-worthy dish!
4. Chilli Con Carne
If you’re a meat-lover and fed up of eating chicken (aren’t we all?), then opt for a simple beef dish to spice up your lunch menu. And if you’re not one for eating vegetables, you can sneak some of your five a day without even realising that you’re eating them!
To cook this tasty meal, you’ll need to dice onions and brown your minced beef, then add chopped red pepper and mushrooms and allow them to cook. Once they’re ready, sprinkle on some salt, pepper, paprika, chilli and garlic powder, before adding the stock and chopped tomatoes, and allow the mixture to simmer.
At the very end, throw in your canned black beans, and serve with a rice of your choosing.
5. Burrito Bowl
Add a bit of Mexican flavour to your lunches by creating a colourful burrito bowl. With a mixture of brown rice, tasty veggies and your protein source, you can ensure that your flavourful meal is nutritional, too.
Here are some great additions that you can throw into your burrito bowl:
- pulled pork
- shredded beef
6. Orzo and Minced Pork
To spice up your lunch game, opt for a Mediterranean-inspired dish that is also cheap to make.
To create this concoction, you’ll need to dice and fry onions, before adding minced meat, oregano, cinnamon, pepper, salt and mint. Once the meat is ready, add the tomato passata, chicken stock and two bay leaves, and simmer for 20 minutes before adding the orzo. Leave the orzo to cook and soak all the water for a further 20 minutes.
Before portioning your meal, sprinkle grated halloumi cheese for added flavour!
7. Classic Chicken Caesar Salad
While salads are packed with vitamins, they’re usually the last thing you want to reach for when your belly is rumbling so loud that even the neighbouring office pod can hear it. That said, a chicken Caesar salad is far from your ordinary bowl of greens; it’s packed with flavours, meat and yummy croutons.
So, instead of ordering from your go-to snack shop, create your own concoction at home with some simple ingredients. All you’ll need is:
- browned chicken breast
- fried bacon bits
- iceberg lettuce
- herbed croutons
- ready-made Caesar dressing
- parmesan flakes
8. Butternut Squash Soup
When the winter months hit, you’ll need a wholesome meal that will fill and warm you up.
And if you’re bored of canned goods, it’s time to make your own hearty meal. But don’t worry: creating a butternut squash soup is super simple! All you need is a butternut squash (of course), two spoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of butter, diced onion, a garlic clove, vegetable stock and some crème fresh.
To cook the soup, you’ll need to first roast the squash, before adding it to the browned onions, stock water and crème fresh. For a final touch, blitz all the ingredients together for a super creamy and irresistible soup.
9. Pizza Wrap
Forget leftover takeaways! This healthy alternative is just as good for your lunch food – it can even be enjoyed on the go if you have no time to actually eat at your desk.
The way you prep this lunch idea is easy. Simply mix all your favourite pizza toppings together and wrap them tightly in your choice of tortilla. If you have a microwave in your office, you could even heat it up for 10 seconds to melt your cheese. You might even be fooled into thinking that it’s the real deal!
10. Quinoa Bowl
Quinoa is an ingredient that has risen in popularity in the past few years, and it’s easy to see why. The gluten-free grain is high in protein, contains essential amino acids and is full of iron, magnesium and other beneficial vitamins.
To create the ideal packed lunch, roast your favourite vegetables in the oven with mixed herbs and olive oil, and add the vegetables to the cooked quinoa.
You can eat this alone or with another protein source like grilled halloumi cheese, chicken or vegetable burgers. For added flavour, accompany the dish with your favourite dip like tahini, hummus or tzatziki.
While it’s easy to reach for the takeaway menu or walk to the closest food shop, it’s much more enjoyable when you reach for a home-cooked meal. You not only feed your body more nutritional foods, but you also get to experiment with new spices and ingredients.
Why not even turn your newfound love for healthy lunch ideas into an office-wide thing? You can take it in turns with your work friends prepping a meal for the entire group and turn it into a social club, too!
Do you have any favourite lunch recipes? Let us know what your go-to lunch meal in the comments section below.
Meanwhile, if you’re up to speed with lunch and snack ideas, why not check out our list of tasty breakfast meals for some early-morning spread inspiration? And don’t forget to read our guide on the worst foods to avoid at work!