Lunch may or may not be the best time of the workday.
That is, if you can manage to carve some time out to even take lunch. Whether it’s just because it’s a welcome break from the chaos of the day, an opportunity to chum it up with your favorite work buddy, or even an opportunity to suck up to your boss, lunch is a great way to change the momentum.
But only if you make the right choice on what you eat.
Low blood sugar, due to a lack of food, is one of the quickest ways to slow yourself down at work—something that often happens when we feel the “3 o’clock” feeling.
If you don’t eat enough, you’ll still feel hungry when you come back from lunch—or skip it—and if you eat too much, you’ll feel tired as well.
The trick to mastering lunch is finding the balance, and still feeling like you’ve had a proper break.
That balance starts with the right, healthy options. But not all health foods are created equal: some can take the whole night before to prepare, and others need to be made right when you’re going to eat them; and neither of those options are going to make it any easier to recharge after or during your shift.
Instead, consider these 17 options that we’ve handpicked.
While they may not all be readily available at your favorite local lunch spot, they’re options that you can quickly prepare the night before or morning of with ease.
Check them out, and you may be surprised that you quickly find a new favorite.
Bulgogi is a simple recipe from the Korean cuisine that’s sure to satisfy eaters from around the world. Even if you haven’t heard of it, the concept won’t be all that foreign: it’s marinated, Korean BBQ beef.
If you want to cook it yourself from home, it won’t take you more than 30 minutes. And nowadays, you’ll be surprised how close the nearest Korean BBQ spot may be to your office for a quick bite out.
Try making this Bulgogi recipe at home.
Whether you add curry, grapes, or your favorite veggies, chicken salad comes in all shapes and sizes, and can be easily tailored to your favorite recipe.
Donna over at donnahup.com has a Fuji apple chicken salad that you can make for yourself. The best part is that Donna says, “it’s pretty darn close [to Panera’s] and it’s super tasty!”
Saving money and eating a healthy lunch. That’s called a win-win.
Grilled Chicken With Hummus
It would be insane if hummus didn’t make our list. A fan favorite of healthy snackers everywhere, it also makes the perfect side dish to a lightly marinated or dry-rubbed grilled chicken. Healthy, simple, delicious.
Try this hummus recipe from The Mediterranean Dish!
Rice & Beans
Dressed up with your favorite hot sauce, some lettuce, onions, or veggies, rice and beans are the perfect base—and nutritionally speaking, all that you need for a totally balanced meal
Try this recipe from Naturally Ella. She takes it to the next step by adding an egg to the mix.
Build this sandwich from those who know avocados best: CaliforniaAvocado.com
This is one that you can make a lot of for cheap, and add in a whole variety of delicious veggies and spices to mix up with your favorite flavors.
Here’s a recipe worth trying from Jeni Flaa: Quinoa Salad With Bell Peppers, Currants & Feta
The distant, hot cousin of hummus, this soup is rich with protein and nutrients, and can last all week.
The best part of lentil soup – you don’t need a recipe. Here are some pointers from Food52 though.
Marinated Tofu Sandwich
Tofu?! That’s the reaction most people might have to the mysterious non-meat, but with a little marinade, you’d be surprised just how delicious it can be. Marinate it, and press it down into a hot Panini, and you just might be a quick convert.
SheKnows.com has a tofu sandwich recipe that will satisfy your day.
Egg Salad Sandwich
With the right ingredients, egg salad is an extremely healthy and filling choice for a midweek meal.
This lunch is budget friendly and healthy. All you need is 25 minutes and 3 ingredients to enjoy this lunch. Food.com has an easy recipe to follow.
The European omelet, as it’s called, is something you can make as breakfast for dinner and then enjoy all over again. Pack it with veggies, and its light fluffy taste will keep you moving right through even the toughest Monday.
Try this frittata recipe from BonAppetit.com.
Turkey, Swiss & Apple Sandwich
Apples can give you as much energy as coffee, rumor has it. So why not add it for a sweet pick-me-up in a lunch-sandwich staple.
Try this sandwich recipe on rodalesorganiclife.com.
Ham & Cream Cheese Roll-Ups
Make sure to use light cream cheese, and spread it all over a flower tortilla. Then add some cherry pepper and thinly sliced ham. Then roll it all up and slice it into bite sized pieces.
Try TasteOfHome.com‘s recipe.
Here’s a classic that doesn’t need to be heated up, and can be enjoyed with almost any combo of ingredients, from veggies, to chicken and even fruit.
Try out this sweet, tangy and crunchy pasta salad from Jenny Unternahrer of InTheKitchenWithJenny.com
“Pita Pocket” Sandwich
Open up some pita bread carefully, and stuff the insides with chicken, feta, spinach and peppers. It’s the perfect sandwhich that doesn’t need a single slice of bread.
Get the recipe.
Roasted Corn Salad
Roast or blacken some corn on the stove, add in beans, peppers, spicy red pepper, and some other veggies—maybe even mango—and you’ve got a healthy, sweet, and spicy salad that’s good to the last kernel.
Get the recipe.
Who says chili needs to be a belly bomb? Try it with all vegetarian ingredients, and find yourself with a meal you can cook on Sunday night, and enjoy every day for the rest of the week. That’s what we call ballin’ on a budget.
Get the recipe.
Pesto & Sundried Tomato Pizza
Finally, if you’re feeling adventurous but strapped for time, make a pesto and sundried tomato pizza at home. Buy some premade dough, use the pesto as a sauce coat, sprinkle on some sundried tomatoes and cheese and you’ve got the best pizza leftovers of your life.
Try this recipe using Boboli’s crust. It only takes 23 minutes!