5 Easy Recipes for Work and School

Unpopular opinion: lunch is the best meal of the day. It's a time to take a break from work or school, something to look forward to in the morning and excitedly plan. When I started working this summer, I looked forward to going out to eat and making delicious recipes to reheat during the day. Once I got to my office for the first time, I was shocked to realize that (1) lunch in Beverly Hills costs no less than $12, and (2) my office has no microwave. With hot lunch options eliminated, I had to get creative for thinking of fast, cheap, and healthy lunches that would still taste good cold. Here's a few of my favorites:

1. Healthy egg salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • Any amount of avocado (at least 1/4)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bread or crackers

Directions: Break apart the hard boiled egg and throw away the yolk if desired. Use a fork to mash in the avocado until it looks creamy and add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if you like spicy food. Bring crackers if you like (I do) or eat with a fork. Super quick to make and delicious!

2. Spring rolls

Ingredients:

Directions: Like any sandwich-type food, this is totally customizable. Run the wrapper under warm water and spread it on a clean surface; it should be a little sticky and clear. Starting off to the side (leave about 2 inches from the bottom) add your fillings in rows, starting with your greens. I usually add sprouts or spinach, sliced carrots, sliced cucumbers, avocado, and a protein like crab or tofu. However, use anything you have on hand- it's really good with vegetables like spaghetti squash! Make sure to leave room off to the sides and then roll like a burrito. I like to mix peanut sauce and soy sauce to dip, and add Sriracha if you like spice. If you have a small container, bring sauce on side; if not, you can pour it directly into the roll before folding.

3. Raw sesame zucchini noodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 small zucchinis, spiralized
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 - 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Sriracha or chili oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds

Directions: Spiralize your zucchinis if not already prepared. Mix all the ingredients together (other than sesame seeds and zucchini) in a small bowl, then pour over zucchini and mix. Top with sesame seeds if desired.

4. Poke bowl

Note: this isn't exactly cheap, but it makes large amounts and is cheaper than buying it in a restaurant!

Ingredients for the poke:

  • Fresh ahi tuna (I got from Costco for $23 and it made about 12 portions, so this is good if your entire house/apartment wants it as well. This recipe is for about 6 portions, or just under <1lb of tuna)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tb sesame oil
  • 1/2 tb red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (optional)
  • 1/2 tb sesame seeds

Ingredients for the bowl:

  • Poke
  • Arugula
  • Leftover or otherwise cold rice, optional
  • Edamame
  • Sliced carrots
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Trader Joe's wasabi seaweed

Directions: Dice the tuna into cubes, about 1-2 inches each. Mix all poke ingredients together in a small bowl and then pour over the ahi cubes in a medium bowl. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours. I did this overnight to make the bowl easy to assemble on a weekday morning. Before work, take about 3oz of ahi and lay over arugula or rice and add vegetables. I really enjoyed adding Trader Joe's wasabi seaweed because the flavoring came off as it marinated during the morning at work.

I know the idea of making poke is really intimidating, but I promise it's easy! You just have to get fresh tuna and prepare it the night before!

5. Breakfast salad

Ingredients:

  • Lox
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Hard boiled eggs

Directions:

This is basically my favorite avocado toast, minus the toast. I prefer a mix of arugula and spinach, because arugula is too peppery by itself, but that's just me. Slice the hard boiled eggs and mix all the ingredients together in your Tupperware. I find that the egg and avocado is enough dressing for me, but feel free to bring a light dressing in another small Tupperware so your salad doesn't get soggy.

These are only a few of my favorite options that require little preparation and no heating- of course, I also frequent my buddy Joe's kitchen for salads and the like. By Joe, I mean Trader Joe's, because what other Joe matters? If you don't have time to prepare food, stopping by Trader Joe's or another grocery store for a prepared lunch can feel like a treat but cost a fraction of the price. Sometimes when I'm in a rush, I'll also bring a large fruit salad and filling snacks like edamame and popcorn to get me through the day. It all depends on what I'm feeling!

Photos by J. Kenji López-Alt, Happy Healthy Mama, Eating Well, Iowa Girl Eats, Alex Snodgrass