Food

What People (Actually) Eat for Lunch

What Do You (Actually) Eat for Lunch?

When lunchtime rolls around, what do you eat? On the days I bring my lunch to work, I resort to the meal I’ve packed since kindergarten: a yogurt, an orange and some sort of nut-butter sandwich. Reader, I cannot see another cup of Chobani.

Feeling curious, I quizzed people in our shared workspace about their recent meals:

“A slice of pizza and a chicken roll. A pizza slice is not enough for a lunch. Neither is the chicken roll. Together they are enough.”

“I picked up a Cuban sandwich. It was underwhelming. And water.”

“Frozen Snickers.”

“A bento box with two rice balls.”

“I brought steak tacos with avocado and pickled cabbage. I’m a big fan of leftovers. ”

“Today I went to the deli and got a whitefish salad on pumpernickel bread. Sometimes I’ll get one leaf of lettuce. Never tomato.”

“A Clif Bar.”

Sound familiar to you? This month, our food series will be all about lunches — inspiration for quick meals that won’t make you feel bummed out or hangry. But before we begin, here’s a pop quiz: What did you have for lunch at work today — thumbs up, thumbs down? Did you pack food? Order delivery with office mates? If you’re home, did you reach for last night’s leftovers?

What Do You (Actually) Eat for Lunch?

Here’s to never eyeing your coworker’s plate again.

P.S. Five-ingredient dinners, and stretches for people who sit at desks.
P.P.S. This makes me laugh every time I think about it.

  1. Ellen W says...

    The first job I had out of college paid me $27k before taxes. I was SO proud. I loved grabbing my morning coffee and felt like a true grown up deciding where I’d go for lunch right at noon each day. Then I read an article about how much people spend on daily cups of coffee every year and I stopped to do the math on how much I was on course to spending for those coffees and lunches. It was absolutely shocking and I stopped that practice then and there. Ever since my husband and I make enough dinner for leftovers the next day and I treat myself to a non-homemade cup of coffee once a week. I occasionally go out for lunch and never feel guilty about it, and sometimes I estimate how much money I’ve saved and feel even more proud than when I got my first paycheck a decade ago.

  2. Halle says...

    I recently met with a nutritionist who told me to try shaking up my SAD diet (Standard American Diet): eating a tiny breakfast, a salad for lunch, and monstrously huge portions in the evening. So, I’ve been *trying* to eat my dinner foods at lunch – grains with veggies and grilled chicken, hearty casseroles, pasta, etc (I’ll make a huge batch on Sunday and eat it for the week), and the lighter options for dinner – soup, salad, and what I call “hummus plates” (veggies, crackers, hummus, cheese). I’ve noticed a big difference in afternoon hanger and I sleep better on a less-full tummy!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so interesting, halle! (i totally do the SAD)

  3. Julia says...

    Wow, I feel very lazy compared to everyone else! My husband and I rarely cook, so we don’t have many leftovers. I work in London and my company provides free lunch every day (choice of 4 local restaurants). I order from those options about twice a week, and buy something on the days I forget to order or get sick of the same choices. Usually buy sushi, salad, hummus and falafel bowl, or soup for lunch. I am gluten free so bread is not an option – surprised at how many people eat sandwiches!

  4. Most everyday, I bring my lunch to work — typically leftovers. If I don’t have a leftover, I’ll bring a salad green, tuna or a Trader Joe’s salmon or chicken burger. I also throw in an avocado, apple, cheese stick and almonds. It’s boring . . .but gets me the protein I need.

    Oh, and it’s easy.

  5. Sussi says...

    I live in Denmark, and here is quite custom if you work in the private sector your employer pays for your lunch as a part your perks. So in my team we all go down to the canteen together around noon, talk about our plans and families. Anything but work.
    Usually there is a lot of different food to choose from; warm, cold, salads, soups, bread, etc. You just mix and match. And water or milk – yes, some grown-up Danes drink milk for lunch :) Once a week there is cake for dessert. Yesterday it was sponge-banana cake.
    And for lunch today, I had veal with salad, and a traditional Danish rye bread on the side :)

    • Clara says...

      Your message is so sweet! Greetings from Italy

    • My daughter became friends with a Danish exchange student last year. She visited us over the summer and brought us some Danish rye bread. I loved the bread. It was so much denser than American bread and full of seeds. She said many students eat it for lunch.

  6. Claire says...

    I’m a busy med student with too many extra-curriculars so I used to just end up buying lunch. My boyfriend put me on to this super quick and healthy lunch: Some fun greens, drained canned lentils plus whatever veggies you have around and some flavoured tuna. Quick, health and cheap yaaasss!

  7. Kristina says...

    I work for a state House of Reps and during the 4 months of Legislative Session (Feb-May) I can’t leave for lunch like I can the rest of the year. I live 5 mins from the Capitol so when it’s not session, I’m home eating leftovers. During session, I bring a large whole foods hummus and keep it in the fridge at work. Then every day I bring in random assortments of crudités and/or pita chips as well as an apple. Sometimes some cheese. Keeps me full until dinner. Cheap too!

  8. Elisa says...

    Leftovers! I had a delicious sweet potato, organic tinned tomatoes and tofu fry up with baby english spinach and coriander thrown on top. So good!

  9. Stacy says...

    I had an Ezekiel sprouted wheat wrap with natural peanut butter, chia seeds, raspberries, and flaked coconut piled on top. On the side i ate a clemantine, some cashews, and a couple pieces of jarlsburg cheese. That seems to fill me up, give me a decent amount of energy, and not make me tired! I get sick of salads really fast, but will occasionally cut up broccoli, cauliflower, radish, strawberries, and throw in some blueberries and some chunks of sharp cheddar, squeeze on some lemon juice and sprinkle with sea salt. Its amazing and fresh!

  10. I am unemployed at the moment so it really varies! Some days its leftovers, other days I go out with friends for coffee and the cake I had at 11.00am covers me till dinner or I go down to the noodle place down the street and grab their special which covers me for 2 meals. I also really enjoy doing a layered mexican dip for one (mash half an avocado, top with layers of sour cream and salsa and a sprinkling of cheese served with tortilla chips and carrot sticks) which is so yummy and filling.
    When I was working I would take a lebanese cucumber chopped into sticks, some carrot sticks and some bagle crisps or rice crackers with hummus or avocado dip. It was easy to make and as I’m more of a snacker than anything else it never felt like I was eating a ‘meal’ but still kept me full.

  11. Ali says...

    I’m a teacher, so I brown-bag it almost everyday since eating out isn’t really feasible. Leftovers for lunch is my favorite and I usually try to make enough food to do so.

    BUT my favorite easy/lazy/quick/almost-no-cook lunch is an upgraded “kids” lunch made with things that we already have in our fridge 95% of the time: 2 hard-boiled eggs, a handful of baby carrots with homemade “healthy ranch” yogurt dip, an apple paired with a few slices or dollops of cheese, and some crackers. It’s got a variety of textures and food groups and is surprisingly filling!!!

  12. sidra says...

    Usually bring a green smoothie in a mason jar and drink it all. Very filling yet light.

  13. I think this is your best food series yet.
    I’m a stay at home mom so you’d think I could make awesome lunches but… I usually send the good leftovers to work with my husband. Today I made a grilled cheese sandwich, which is one of my favorite lunches. Yesterday it was avocado toast but not until like 3 pm. It seems like too many days I am eating the snacks I bought for my kid for lunch because I don’t have the time/energy/free hands to make myself something. This never fills me up so I’m really trying to eat real food at lunch. Looking forward to your ideas!

  14. Ashley says...

    I love leftover for lunch! But I do try to also prep little mason jars of sliced veggies or berries so I don’t hear end up shoving whatever else is on hand in my lunch bag.

  15. Julie D says...

    I eat salad every day. 4 days of the week are for the homemade (lettuce, endives, cucumbers, pickles, walnuts and canned fish, trout or sardines) and on Friday it’s a pre-made one from TJ’s! I usually bring a nut or fruit bar or some almonds as a dessert. I like to eat light so I can do to town on my dinner! Nothing like a huge bowl of pasta to come home to <3

  16. Liz says...

    Honestly, reading some of these has me thinking, But how are you not STARVING an hour and a half later?! I do my best to eat out only twice a week (the guys on the line at the deli down the street start my wrap the second they see me in line at this point), and today was leftovers – pasta w/chicken and a rice/roasted sweet potato/spinach salad with a Ghirardelli chocolate square for dessert an hour later.

    • Me too, Liz. I was also thinking most of these readers either have a teeny appetite or they’ve got to be hungry an hour later :)

  17. Karley Parker says...

    I’m a creature of habit and pretty much eat the same lunch everyday:
    Two Slices of Rosemary & Olive Oil Bread from my local grocery store
    Cheese (Dubliners from Trader Joes or Big John’s Cajun by Beehive Cheese)
    Salad (Raw Red Cabbage w/ feta cheese & Balsamic vinegar dressing or Green leaf lettuce w/ TONS of veggies & same dressing)
    Apple
    Water

    Oddly I look forward to my lunch everyday and don’t really tire of it but I’m excited to see what recipes you guys post, I need to branch out!

  18. Millie says...

    Open face turkey sandwich. Eli’s health nut bread topped with avocado and a sprinkle of kosher salt, slice of turkey and a slice of swiss. Yummy.

  19. Stephanie says...

    Leftover pork and quinoa enchilada, banana, apple, dark chocolate M&Ms and almonds, yogurt with granola. And I have a hard boiled egg in the fridge for right before I catch my bus home so I don’t get hangry during the commute. I only recently started actually stocking my desk drawer with snacks instead of bringing things in baggies every day. So now I always have instant oatmeal and tea, and usually some kind of chocolate on hand.

  20. Lauren says...

    I knew there would be snacks at a 1:30 meeting, so I did my best to tide myself over by scarfing dried banana chips from my desk around noon (not a great plan). I then ravenously ate as much fruit, carrots, hummus, cheese cubes, and crackers as I could pile on my plate without attracting stares after the meeting. Poor planning all around. I hate to buy lunch, as I’m on a very limited budget, but I should have brought something so that I didn’t have to rely on free meeting snacks. I’m also fresh out of law school and still can’t turn down free food.

  21. Meg says...

    I usually pack my lunch when I can. Today I had a salad I made the night before (spinach+protein+cheese+crunch) and a “side” of leftover angel hair pasta that I just squeezed some lemon juice on with parmesan cheese. Pretty random.

    I also do love me a good ol pb&j

  22. Kelly says...

    leftovers 100%. i meal plan and always make 4 servings — two for dinner and two for our lunches the next day. we’ve done this over 10 years and my husband is so conditioned by it that if we eat a dinner out during the week and i don’t cook, he’ll literally ask me, “but…what am i supposed to eat for lunch tomorrow?” i’ve had to tell him, you’re a grown man! you can find yourself food!

  23. Twyla says...

    Quite often I’ll make ground turkey burritos with cheese – I roll them up in cellophane and freeze them. It’s so easy to grab in the morning as I’m running out the door, along with some grape tomatoes and an avocado. Sometimes I keep half the turkey mixture out, then I make salad and portion it out in Ziploc bags, along with the turkey meat and some nacho chips in separate bags, and voila! Taco salad! It’s so much more fun than a regular, boring salad. Then I keep the burritos for days that I’m really desperate…

  24. Caroline says...

    I work on a trading floor so we tend to order together as a group every day (and we all begin debating what to get immediately after we finish breakfast at 8 am!) but I feel very accomplished and responsible when I manage to plan ahead and pack something. My favorite thing to make is a hearty soup or stew, like the 30 minute spicy ancho turkey chili from the Pinch of Yum blog or Rachael Ray’s stuffed pepper “stoup”.

  25. Rachael says...

    I bring lunch and breakfast to work 99.9% of the time. Today I had microwave plain oatmeal with a banana mashed in and PB on top. For lunch, I had a salad of chopped romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, garbanzos, corn and feta. I sprinkle liberally with garlic salt and oregano and then squeeze a fresh lime or lemon and drizzle of olive oil on top. Pretty good!

  26. Miche says...

    I had leftover soup. I work from home most days, so I just eat leftovers, or I make eggs.

    However, my husband works at an office, and I love packing him bento for lunch. You can see some of his lunches here! (truth: I only post the prettier ones.)

    https://www.instagram.com/michellanne_li/

  27. Kate says...

    For the past six months, I’ve been bringing in my lunch, and sometimes even my breakfast, to work! Our office has a blender, microwave, and some key ingredients (fresh fruits, S&P, EVOO) on hand, so I have some great resources on hand to create some flavorful dishes. In the AM, I typically bring in the ingredients to make a smoothie, for lunch I bring in the makings for a salad or just leftovers from the night before (soups, pastas, strong vegetable & protein dishes), and either some fatty nuts or almond butter with veggies for a late afternoon snack.

  28. Hahaha, love the honesty in this. Lunch is the hardest meal of the day for me to plan. I like bringing leftovers, but I also like having leftovers for dinner, so I don’t have to cook every night. Today I skipped breakfast and had a Clif Bar for lunch. -__- Yesterday I had some toast with avocado and one hard boiled egg.
    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

  29. Hannah says...

    I’m a SAHM and lunch is the hardest meal to figure out because I don’t enjoy leftovers. Most days it’s a PB&J, which I’ve been completely happy with since I was a kid. But I’m trying to be better about eating what’s in the fridge, so today I threw some leftover sweet potato in a pan, along with the dregs of some butter chicken from the weekend, and topped it off with an egg!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds delicious!!

  30. I’m lucky to have a Trader Joe’s less than 5 minutes from my office.

    Lately I’ve been getting their tabbouleh salad and I split it for two lunches. I eat it with salt and pepper pretzel crisps and maybe a Volpi cheese stick with prosciutto wrapped around (also at TJ’s).

    PB&J with an apple is my other alternative. Or leftovers.

  31. Christina says...

    I have a very complicated relationship with my work lunches. I try to do meal prep every Sunday so that I have enough for the week, but I’ve found I’m getting sick of things by Wednesday and sometimes flake and buy something anyway. My go-tos are homemade soups, roasted chicken with veggies, some sort of salad, etc. I tried to mix it up by buying ingredients for great avocado toast this week, but the same thing happened. I’ve played with making two whole meals for the week to alternate, but then I always end up wasting something. Cooking for one is tough! Excited for this series and for inspiration!!

    • Lauren says...

      I completely do the same thing. I get sick of my prepped food so easily and then just end up “forgetting” it. I wish there was another person to help me eat the food in my fridge, but it’s just me. It’s so hard to buy the right amount of fresh produce and not have food waste when you’re a household of one.

    • Anneka says...

      I have the same problem. I food prep on Sunday to have stuff to mix and match for the whole week, but inevitably I’m tired of it by Weds. My typical prep is stuff to make grain bowls but I’m definitely looking for some new ideas! Also I’m a household of two and produce quantity is still hard to gauge.

  32. Leftovers all the way!

  33. Abby W. says...

    I’ve been bringing salad everyday since January 1st! I joke that the best part is all the veggies I eat for lunch and the worst part is all the veggies I have to eat for lunch. But varying what I put on the salad and bringing cheese and crackers helps break up the monotony! (Boursin for the win!)
    I only have 33 minutes for lunch, so very little time to go out. In-and-Out is my splurge lunch when I’m having crappy days!

  34. Ann says...

    Lately my go to lunch has been rice and chicken sausage that I quickly cut into chunks and saute with peppers and onions in the morning. Then I re-heat in the microwave at work and add some sheep milk feta on top and toasted pistachios. No idea why I add the pistachios, but it’s yummy.

  35. Can’t wait to read more about this. Living in NYC means I either tend to pack a lunch or treat myself to lunch at the quickest spots around my office. However I tend to grow bored of the spots around me and since I’m not really a sandwich person I end up bringing leftovers from the previous day. More often than not I end up just forgetting about taking a lunch because I’m usually often busy during the work day. That said sometimes I plan my week out and bring leftovers every day and that always feels good but honestly it depends how chaotic my previous week is. That being said I can’t wait to hear more about this series. I have a feeling I could seriously benefit from it!

  36. Marissa says...

    I work at a school and all faculty and staff are entitled to free lunch in the dining center. I’m so lucky that it’s usually pretty tasty, too! Every day there is a hot lunch, soup, salad bar, sandwich station, pizza and grill (burger, melt, etc.). I usually cobble together things from a few different stations to make my lunch and grab a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack.

    Today I had pulled chicken over coleslaw cut with greens from the salad bar (to stretch the heavy dressing a little further) and a few roasted potato wedges. My go-to lunch if nothing special looks good, is a salad with a scoop of chicken salad or some deli turkey.

  37. Carrie says...

    I’ve been tired of sandwiches since I was 12 – this week I did burritos instead. I made a mix of quinoa and black beans that I keep in a big container in the office refrigerator and bring in a whole wheat tortilla and whatever toppings appeal each day – cheese, an avocado, some salsa. Probably the easiest/cheapest/most delicious lunch I’ve ever come up with and also the only lunch I’ve tried that actually fills me up. Eaten with some delicious fruit.

  38. Laurel says...

    Most of the time I bring leftovers for lunch. My husband is an amazing cook and my lunch is usually the envy of the lunchroom. Ha! Occasionally I’ll go out for lunch with a few of my work mates; I live in Australia and we’ll go to the Tradies. It’s most closely compared to a casino but toned down. They have the best chicken schnitzel (a staple for Aussies) for $12. It’s not the healthiest so I try to not go too often!

  39. I’ve recently started meal prepping for lunch each week and am actually loving it! I’ll mix brown rice, cilantro, green peppers, mushrooms or beans, and a protein that I mix up every week (ground turkey is my go to or Aidell’s caramelized chicken meatballs from Publix if I want to splurge a little…they are SO good). On the side, I’ll have some combination of roasted carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes and top it all of with roasted sunflower seeds for an extra crunch. If I go home for a lunch, I’ll throw on a fried egg. So far, as long as I keep mixing up a couple of ingredients, I have not grown tired of this! And it’s so cheap! Usually around $20 a week for five lunches because I always have ingredients that roll over.

  40. Tania says...

    My partner makes me lunch a few days a week (right now he is staying home with our 1 year old). Today he made fried rice – rice cooked in rice cooker, some random veggies from the fridge (onion, peas, carrots, broccoli, you get the idea), an egg and soy sauce and sesame oil. I ate that (I didn’t even really bother to heat it up) a very large banana, and the remains of my cold coffee at about 1215. Now I’m thinking of going grounging (not a word, apparently) around the office for some snacks

  41. Megan says...

    I make avocado toast with tomatoes at work or have peanut butter toast and then usually a piece of fruit like apple or orange. Occasionally, I pack some more snacks like a cookie or hummus and carrots. The funny thing is I work at a tech company that caters lunch almost everyday but the food is usually so heavy and filling that I opt out and bring my own lunch.

    • grace b says...

      the two weeks i spent temping for a tech company last year were HEAVEN food wise. i think i ate 3 meals a day there every day just because the food was SO good. i envy you!

      i typically take rice and beans topped with feta, leftover pizza with a side of dark greens (collards are my favorite) or a sandwich & chips from Starbucks. I love seasnax for my 15 min break.

  42. Alaina says...

    Went to a Vietnamese restaurant with coworkers and brought back to our office kitchen.

  43. Ashley says...

    Lately I’ve been bringing a tub of greens and some form of protein on Mondays and make it last. I leave a bottle of salad dressing in the work fridge and have a shaker jar of nutritional yeast there, too. I also usually either bring a fruit or eat work-provided fruit.
    I like lunch consistency. I don’t have to worry if my meal is going to make me want to take a nap after eating it, and eating a salad for lunch means I don’t feel so guilty eating a big serving of carbs with my dinner (and of course dessert).

  44. Lunch is the bane of my existence. Most of the time I end up buying a salad with no cheese from Wendy’s. I think there are worse things I could do but I always feel better if I plan and get prepared before the week starts so I don’t have to spend the money and also have some variety.

  45. Diane says...

    I take lunch to work everyday. I have a system to make packing as easy as possible. In the cooler months, I usually take soup (homemade or Trader Joe’s Tomato and Red Pepper), good seedy bread (that I can toast at work), hummus or avocado, hard-boiled egg, and fruit. In the warmer months, I bring a salad, and often toast. I bought glass dishes with plastic lids, water bottles, plastic bento boxes, and a roomy insulated tote just for my lunches. I almost always pack my lunch the night before, either while cooking dinner, or right after dinner. I am not a morning person!

    • When I grow up I want to be organized like that! :D

    • This is such a great plan! I prep all my kids lunches for the week every Sunday, and now I’m going to start doing the same thing for my lunches, and use your system! Thanks!

  46. Sue Ly says...

    I’m also looking forward to the lunch series! Today I had two smoothies. I don’t have a microwave at my office so if I want a hot lunch I bring it in a mini crockpot.

  47. PS my answer would have been more interesting on Tuesday – my husband and I met up to have lunch at a 2-star Michel restaurant (a gift from my mom), it was great and I am so grateful no one minds when you take 2,5 hours for lunch as long as your work is done ! It was refreshing to be actually to meet and talk (we have a 7 months old baby and in the evening we are sometimes too tired to bear a long conversation)

  48. molly says...

    Lunches are tough, especially since I am not a sandwich person and many salads don’t fill me up enough. With that being said I usually have left overs or I make a salad of tomato, feta, tabouli and hummus with tzatziki and a lemon/EVOO dressing. If I have kalamata olives, cucumber or grape leaves I throw those in there as well. I have also been having savory oatmeal for lunch recently. I love soups, but find that after day three I cannot even think about eating another bite.

  49. Interesting! I live in Paris, and people in France always take at least one hour for lunch. I usually try to either go out and have lunch in a restaurant with a friend or a colleague, or only make a short break at work (or doing errands) and order something. We have a few amazing new services here who cook lunches and dinners – one is called Frichti, and I ordered soba noodles with vegetables and kale. I am always appaled at how much bread people eat during lunch (all these sandwiches and pasta!) – this kind of diet makes me really sleepy in the afternoon…

  50. Laura says...

    My usual lunch go-to is a quinoa bowl. I’ll combine chicken, quinoa, & veggies, topped with either Cholula or Trader Joe’s Sweet Chili Sauce. My fave veggies on this are mushrooms, broccoli, green beans, corn, and/or bell peppers.

    Today is a rarity though & I’ll be having Trader Joe’s Shiitake Mushroom Chicken and a spinach-kale-pepper salad.

    P.S. Adding “caldo con sabor de pollo” (like Knorr’s chicken flavoring) to the water while the quinoa is cooking makes it taste so much better, IMO. Also, I worship Cholula. It makes me feel like I can cook the best omelette in the world.

  51. Kirsten says...

    Ohhh, my new office is in such a food desert (especially for being in the middle of queens! how?) so I’ve gotten good at lunches lately. Today I had a marinated tofu sandwich: Lemon-mustard crispy baked tofu with goat cheese, avocado, arugula, pickled radishes and cherry tomatoes on sourdough. So good, but sometimes I really miss my (stupidly expensive) chopt mexican caesar salads.

  52. Helen says...

    I’ve learned that the key is to make/buy something in bulk then pair it with something different each time I pack it for lunch. Otherwise I’ll walk straight out to the food trucks! For example, when we roast a chicken, we’ll pair with rice and roasted veggies then over a salad. Recently we couldn’t resist a Costco sample and loved the pre-made Indian food. We also paired this with rice and then over a salad.

  53. Heather says...

    SO excited that the Cup of Jo team will be covering lunches this month. We’ve been in a bit of a rut and I am looking forward to some suggestions to help us keep our lunch game fresh! Yesterday my partner and I weren’t that organized so we met at a pub for lunch and I had a veggie burger and some lackluster soup (the burger was tasty though). Today we’re more on the ball and will be having leftover shakshuka and potatoes from dinner earlier this week. Thanks so much, you gals rock!

  54. Kacy says...

    I had to take a short lunch so I could pick my son up from school this afternoon. BUT I had to run two errands on my shorten lunch and one of them required me to drop something off at our apartment which is across town. So my half hour lunch turned into 40 minutes. I drove through a fast food place and grabbed a taco and an iced tea. Ate on the road. Not good for me, but it was yummy.

  55. Lauren says...

    I am REALLY excited about this series. I never know what to pack for lunch! If I don’t have any appealing leftovers, I usually end up at the hot/salad bar section of the Whole Foods across the street from my office; today, I got a chicken spring roll, 2 slices of plantains, and a bit of gigante bean salad. So random!

  56. Alyssa says...

    I eat a lettuce salad with a chicken breast or fish filet in it. That’s all! When I’m at home on the weekend I’ll have a big brunch or something else

  57. Laurel says...

    I don’t understand why my answer yesterday didn’t make it through moderation?

    I always pack a lunch. Yesterday I had riced cauliflower with roasted veggies (brussel sprouts, sweet potato, carrots and broccoli). On the side I had cottage cheese with hot sauce. I love cottage cheese–such an easy source of protein!

    Today I have crackers, “ants in a bog” (celery I dip in a container of peanut butter and raisins) and an apple. I might go buy some cottage cheese at the drugstore–ran out at home.

  58. Went to Costco Sunday (promptly questioned both my sanity and humanity), ans picked up a rotisserie chicken, large container of organic greens and a loaf of bread from their bakery. That’s been a few meals this week.
    I also picked up some sliced lox and avocados. I’m planning to use those for open faced sandwiches, probably with a salad.
    In cooler weather, I’ll make chili or soup. Good for a few days and the leftovers freeze well when I’m over it.

  59. i pack a lunch for my husband and me mon-thurs. friday we treat ourselves to something out. on sundays i make something for the entire week:

    autumn/winter time, it’s soup or chili. if i’m feeling fancy, curry + rice. there is usually 2 pieces of fruit, some kind of sweet and maybe a hard boiled egg.

    spring/summer time, it’s pasta salad with whatever vegs are in season, simply dressed with olive oil + balsamic vinegar. again with the fruit, and sweet.

    if i really plan, maybe muffins, or breakfast cake, or scones, or oatmeal for breakfast or 3pm snack.

    when we’re training for a race, i also pack a pb&honey sandwich to nosh on after the run.

  60. Meredith says...

    I almost always pack a lunch. Mostly salad that I prep on Sunday night. Romaine lettuce keeps really well…..I divide that up into 4 tupperware containers. Cut up peppers, a little box of tomatoes, some bleu cheese crumbles, some really good homemade dressing (ranch made with greek yogurt today, but any vinaigrette is good also and doesn’t need to be refrigerated). My favorite is to throw a few chicken breasts in a crockpot with some Franks wing sauce and then shred it and have a little scoop of buffalo chicken on my romaine salad with ranch and tomatoes. Yum!

  61. Brittany says...

    I’m pretty lucky that it’s standard in Turkish schools that all teachers receive free lunch at the cafeteria…and it’s usually pretty good (especially compared to most American school lunches). There is always soup, salad, good crusty bread, plain yogurt (not my favorite, but it’s a Turkish staple), and a main dish. My personal favorite is stuffed peppers. (biber dolmasi)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds amazing, brittany!

  62. Dinner leftovers (this lentil soup): http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/10/easy-lentil-soup-parsley-garlic-lemon-gremolata-recipe.html. I cook for myself and 2 roommates. I make each meal for 6, and then pack the leftovers into containers for our lunches the next day (We have a lot of these pyrex containers. They are awesome, just don’t microwave the lids!! https://www.amazon.com/Pyrex-Simply-Store-4-Cup-Storage/dp/B0000CFMU0). I love that lunch and dinner are ready at the same time, and all I have to do in the morning is grab the container out of the fridge with a piece of fruit.

  63. Maire says...

    I usually bring my lunch 4 days and eat out one day at our City Market or at my favorite food truck. In the fall/winter, I prep a big pot of soup or chili or dal and portion it out to eat all week, maybe with an orange on the side a fun size candy bar for dessert. Lately, I have been into roasting a bunch of veggies (this week cauliflower and sweet potatoes) and then topping it with two fried eggs and a drizzle of olive oil. In the summer, I usually make pasta or quinoa salads or big Greek salads with chickpeas or hummus, or shakshuka on the stovetop (I try not to turn on the oven at all in the summer). I think that packing my lunch gets my veggies in for the day and keeps me eating pretty healthy!

  64. Ann says...

    I love that you’re doing this. I’ve just resigned myself to buying lunch every single day and order online from Sweetgreen. It’s delicious, but it’s PRICEY.

  65. Bria says...

    My lunch was leftover corn chowder and a turkey, basil & mozzarella panini, so good! I was working from home this morning so it was easy to just reheat last night’s dinner. There’s a little place right by my work with the best fattoush salad, which I get with a grilled chicken breast and keeps me full all day!

  66. Kim says...

    carrot sticks, hard boiled egg, an orange, and a latte. Is it Friday yet?

  67. Today I literally ate a bowl of mashed potatoes. Other days I’ll pick up pho or some kind of sandwich with pesto or spicy mustard. But the days I’m most proud of are the days I commit to making lunches that don’t suck. My recent favorites are French lentils with feta and a poached egg (https://thepastiche.com/blog/french-lentils-with-lemon-vinaigrette-feta-and-poached-egg) and naan flatbread with Caesar drenched kale (https://thepastiche.com/blog/grilled-naan-with-hummus-caesar-kale).

  68. Sara says...

    I am so excited for this series! I tell my husband all the time that lunch is the most difficult meal for me, especially during the work week! Today I found a can of tune and some triscuits in the pantry. We had some carrots and apples in the fridge so I grabbed those too. Oh, and the girl scout cookies…

  69. Allyson says...

    I work in a hospital that has surprisingly good food in the cafeteria. Today, I had a made to order grass-fed (cause that’s worth paying an extra $2 for, right? :) ) steak burger with french fries. It wasn’t the healthiest choice, but the baby in my tummy sure enjoyed it!!!

  70. Jordan says...

    I found I was getting way too bored with my lunches, so one day I sat down and brainstormed about 15 easy go-to lunches and popped them into a word doc. It includes several different iterations of mason jar salads, bento boxes, cottage cheese mixes, etc. Now every Sunday, I choose one or more lunches from my “menu” and meal prep them for the week. My lunch box also always includes a yogurt, nuts, and some raw veggies.

  71. Becca says...

    I often make some kind of avocado toast, because they’re so portable and filling! This week it’s avocado toast with pesto, arugula, avocado and fresh mozzarella. Then I sprinkle a little S + P and drizzle with olive oil I keep at my desk. Yum!

  72. I’m such a cheapskate with weekday lunches. I’ve had the exact same thing for lunch (almost) every day since June 2015: one veggie burger, half a cup of Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice, some raw broccoli and some shredded Mexican cheese. Everything goes into one tupperware container, into the microwave for 1:45 and voila! a strange, but filling lunch.

  73. Becca says...

    I often make some kind of avocado toast, because they’re so portable and filling! This week it’s avocado toast with pesto, arugula, avocado. Then I sprinkle a little S + P and drizzle with olive oil I keep at my desk. Yum!

  74. Meg says...

    Spending time making a dinner you love means you’ll get the advantage of having leftovers. Today’s leftovers were ricotta gnocchi with artichoke, sun-dried tomato, and parm. I’ve found that always trying to make a meal that yields leftovers makes it easier to do portion control for dinner. When I’m tempted to eat the whole pot of pasta, I remember that I will be sacrificing an amazing lunch in favor of a very lame deli sandwich.

  75. Naomi says...

    I’ve been eating slow carb style since 01/01/17, so meal planning is pretty simple : protein + vegetables + légumes. Lunch today is leftover stir fried chicken breast, spinach and pinto beans. Eating this way can get pretty boring, so I try to spice things up with sauerkraut/kimchi/pickles/herbs.

  76. Meredith says...

    At work we’ve implemented “lunch bunch” or “lunch ladies” – there’s been a few versions of this. It’s a small group of dedicated lunchers who make lunch for themselves and the rest of the crew on a specific day of the week – everyone involved has their own day. For example, on Monday I’ll make lunch for myself and 4 other people and it’s the only lunch I need to make (most of the time) for the whole week. The other days, I show up in the kitchen to eat what others have prepared. If someone forgets or doesn’t have it together, it’s no big deal – we then resort to our pizza slices and/or yogurt cups. It’s been really nice to sit down, away from computers and eat lunch together.

    • Blandine says...

      I was thinking of doing something like this in my office. Could be fun!

  77. Charlotte says...

    I always eat the same thing for lunch – a sandwich with cheese (philadelphia) and a soup. Sometimes I take a fried snack but I usually try not to. Needless to say, when I get home from work I am hungry. I try not to snack until dinner (usually 8 pm)…Sometimes if I make too much for dinner, then I pack a tupperware but it’s been a while that I haven’t done so. Something I should consider doing again though.

  78. Kate says...

    Hey Stella, nut butter sandwiches- ack! Every Sunday I meal prep my lunches for the week. Into one set up Gladwear goes my salad- greens from one of those big boxes of organic greens and a variety of chopped veggies – and into the other piece of Gladwear goes my main course- brown rice or quinoa and some kind of protein- chicken breast, or a brautwurst of some sort, or ground turkey with spices- and a roasted/sauteed veggie like: kale, purple carrots, golden beets, mushrooms and zucchini…. This has been my standard for the last 2 months now and I don’t ever seem to get sick of my meals. I cook enough for 4 or 5 days, depending on if I am going out to lunch one day (which I do twice/month), and it only takes me about 2-3 hours on Sunday. Sometimes I’ll bake a quiche of some sort for breakfast too and that will take an extra hour. If you need any tips, please just ask! I’m a wizard now with the meal prep! :)

  79. Charli says...

    My husband and I run a tight ship when it comes to meal planning. Lunches vary from salads to dinner leftovers to sandwiches to soups, etc. I’m a huge fan of a baked sweet potato loaded with something (chili, shredded chicken and bbq sauce, roasted veggies, etc) which reheats well and is really satisfying. We almost never eat lunch out – so expensive!

  80. I love cooking, and since it’s just my husband and I, there’s always leftovers, so I bring that. It’s cheap, easy, and everyone always wants to know what new thing I’ve brought this time. Sometimes it’s a casserole, sometimes a steak tostada, today it’s chana masala.
    On the rare days I didn’t have leftovers, or didn’t make a dinner, I’ll go out and grab a gourmet sandwich from a nearby bakery, or some tacos (after all, I do live in Southern California). :)

  81. Elysha says...

    I don’t think it helps you New Yorkers, but suburban folks, I suggest you acquaint yourself with the Costco Sweet Kale Salad. This salad is cheap ($5 a bag, like 4 servings) and next level delicious. I DON’T EVEN LIKE KALE! There is some some of addictive ingredient in the dressing, maybe, but whatever it is, I cannot get enough of this salad. Thankfully it is a very healthy addiction!

    • Julia says...

      YES! I live in the Bay Area and I buy this one at Target and it the freaking bomb. So easy too. :)

    • Rebecca V. says...

      Thirding this one!!! This stuff is the best.

    • Amanda says...

      They sell a version of this at my local grocery store (Jewel Osco and Mariano’s) in Chicago, too! The poppy seed dressing is AMAZING. I usually add this mix on top of more baby kale as a salad.

  82. d says...

    Yesterday was a salad of sliced cucumbers/ tuna in olive oil, pea shoots / 2 hard boiled eggs / some pickled beets with a little mayo and mustard. I worked from home yesterday and when i am teaching away from home, it is always leftovers: today’s was spaghetti squash with chicken broccoli saute and a peanut sauce and it was super good.

  83. ES says...

    I almost always go to a nearby sandwich shop (Potbelly – not sure if you have that there) for a toasted sandwich – either ham or roast beef, on multigrain with lettuce and tomato. Nothing beats a fresh sandwich, especially for $5! I typically will pack a bag of baby carrots to go alongside (to keep me from reaching for chips). Other days, I’ll grab a salad from Whole Foods.

    • Sarah says...

      I am eating Potbelly as I write this! :) And I did grab for the chips…
      (but I got a skinny tuna, no cheese, with pickles and tomatoes, so maybe that helps.) Love Potbelly. sometimes i’ll even get a malt, extra malt powder.

      Most days it’s something out. We use leftovers on weekends and for later dinners. Both my husband and I totally recognize that it would be cheaper and likely healthier to bring lunches from home, but we just don’t have it in us right now at this point our lives with a baby, and we both just like eating out. So we try to do so cheaply and not crazy unhealthy. Hence the potbelly.

  84. Christy says...

    My husband and I both work from home full-time (yes it’s awesome) and we help each other with daily lunches. Trader Joe’s has saved us many times, we rotate out a few of their options like frozen panko-breaded tilapia with a big salad, their delicious pizzas or their wide selection of frozen Indian foods with grilled veggies thrown in. Or we’ll have leftovers from the night before (we use our instant pot a lot so always have some kind of leftovers), a new fav is grilled cheese w gorgonzola & Colby jack with tomato soup or the very occasional run out to a “fast food” restaurant for a quick sandwich/salad together. We also make mason jar salads although that takes a lot of prep and thinking ahead, big batches of chili, jasmine rice and staples that we can “transform” as the week goes on. I also love pearled or regular couscous so we’ll have it plain one day, then the next time we’ll add olives, feta and pine nuts or mozzarella, tomatoes and basil to make it more interesting. You forget that it’s essentially the same thing you had yesterday because the change in flavors packs a nice punch. Hubby is a great cook so that helps lay the foundation for the week and prevents us from going out all the time!

  85. Alyssa Leister says...

    I usually bring leftovers or a salad if I know I won’t have leftover options. Plus extra snacks to sustain me (applesauce, crackers, carrots/hummus). I should really be better about meal prepping lunch-only things though.

    Also, there should be a caveat on what other people can bring to heat up…like NO fish!

  86. Jennifer says...

    I freelance from home. Frequently, lunch is whatever we ate for dinner on top of a big bed of greens with some homemade dressing. Sometimes it’s great, but sometimes not so much. I try to keep other things around to add nutrients to the mix: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc. The other thing I keep on hand is locally made vegan tamales. I eat one on a big bed of greens, topped with salsa (and guac if I have it). I can microwave it quickly, don’t have to use a bunch of dishes, and I get more variety. This has been especially great this winter when I wanted warm food.

  87. Élise says...

    Our office doesn’t have microwave so no leftover warm meal for me.
    Instead, I’ve become really good at making cold vegetarians lunches. And I make big portion, everyone is the Uk eats so little at lunch, it baffles me!

    If I have no time it will be: avocado, tomato, hummos, egg, mozzarella (by combination of two) on rye bread with a salad.
    If I have time, I’ll make couscous salad or rice, pasta salad. Today was a salad of roasted cauliflower, tomato, cucumbers, feta with multi-seed crackers. And fruits.

    As long as there is cheese somewhere, it’s all good!

  88. Awads says...

    Most days, I pack the same thing: turkey sandwich on bread thins and crudite (cut up celery, peppers, baby carrots). Twice a month, i treat myself to Sweetgreen salad. Do i know how to live, or what??!

  89. ST says...

    I love meal planning. My household currently consists of my husband and I who are both working professionals so I recognize this may change once we have kids. But, for now, on Saturdays, I sit down and think about all the meals I want to eat in the upcoming week and on Sundays I cook them! I rarely cook on a week night. I draw inspiration from my childhood (my mom and grandparents were excellent cooks who made delicious real-food meals) and the internet. I keep an ongoing list in my gmail of recipe links I copy over as I surf the web on a given week. I pack a lunch Mon-Thurs and on Fridays I buy a lunch for a treat :) Lunch is typically a protein (usually salmon, chicken thigh or chicken breast) + baked veggies (whether that’s asparagus (salt, pepper, parm dusting) or a scoop of a pan of roasted veggies), sometimes we roast a big pan of sweet potatoes on Sundays too to throw into our lunches. I’ll usually make two options so that I’m eating option 1 on M and W and option 2 on T and Th. This week my alternate lunch to salmon+asparagus is a south Indian fish stew that I have been eating with bread for dipping :) I find salmon to be the easiest protein to cook since it already has so much flavour and chicken is a great carrier of any flavour you like – tandoori, vietnamese flavours, chinese flavours, adobo, greek, french etc. I find no issues with the food “keeping” well into the next weekend but it is all usually consumed by the Friday in my household!

    • Allison says...

      Wow! I am so impressed. You are the diametric opposite of me!

  90. My go-to is scrambled eggs with spinach and a piece of fruit. Eggs always fill me up and keep me going for a while.

  91. Emily says...

    It’s 10:15am, and I’m eating my “lunch” while reading these comments! I was hungry.
    Today, it is/was plain yogurt, blueberries & homemade granola (to control the sugar myself). Hoping I get out early, and I’ll go make myself a turkey sandwich…

  92. Amy G says...

    My new year resolution was meal prepping – AND ITS SO WORTH IT. My standard lunch is brown rice, grilled chicken, and a roasted veggie. Its a nice base that can be mixed up with salsa or teriyaki or hummus!

  93. Gillian says...

    I am super lucky. We have a catered lunch in our office every day. Free to me and one less thing to think about with a fulltime job and 4 little kiddos.

    • Christy says...

      Where do you work?!

  94. Danielle says...

    I’m a PhD student, and I work in a really quiet office, where all you can hear is the quiet pecking of computer keys. I can usually tell what others in my cohort are lunching on based on the chewing that comes up around 12:30–yep, today Sarah’s got an apple and Jessica’s got a bag of mixed nuts. It also makes me painfully aware of every bite of a cracker that I take and the crunch of every chew. Eeek! It takes me an hour and a half to get through my bag of crackers! Let’s just call it mindful eating….

  95. Victoria says...

    Lunch is an area where I don’t skimp! A typical lunch for me is either leftovers from the night before, or: turkey breast and sesame crackers, a Babybel cheese, sliced veggies (peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.) and hummus, and a fresh fruit salad (ex. sliced kiwi, strawberries, and green grapes). Oh, and a La Croix! Having a yummy and healthy lunch makes my afternoon so much more manageable!

  96. Kimberly says...

    We have a salad bar where I work so my lunch is usually a container filled to the rim with fresh veggies. I’ll top it with a homemade dressing and protein — usually chicken, skirt steak, salmon or shrimp that I bring from home (batch cooked on the weekend). It’s the best of both worlds. Lunch is packed in minutes and by bringing the protein from home, I cheap out on the salad bar purchase. :-)

  97. Abbey says...

    I pack my lunch every day, and it’s always dinner leftovers, plus fruit. I learned a long time ago that I can always get it together to put leftovers in a little container, but making a whole new thing just feels like way too much. Plus, I like the things I have for dinner and am happy to eat them again! If for some reason I don’t have dinner leftovers, I’ll buy lunch, but that happens pretty rarely.

    Today is tomato and sausage risotto from last night, with a blood orange for dessert.

  98. mel says...

    I make lunch for myself and my husband on the weekends. I’ll just make a big batch of something healthy and hearty and we eat the same thing every day. Most in-rotation are:
    – Minestrone soup with lots of veggies and sausage
    – Burgers (no bun) and green beans
    – Chicken, sweet potato, baby carrots
    – Chili with loads of butternut squash in it
    – roasted chicken with veggies

    If I don’t pack lunch for us, we will end up eating a clif bar, which isn’t nutritious and makes us (me especially) extraordinarily hangry. OR we go out and drop $20 on lunch. I’d rather save my pennies for travel/shopping. I also love to cook so it’s not torture for me to do this on the weekend :)

  99. Aura says...

    fun timing– we just tried a new lunch strategy this week.
    On sunday eve we did the following:
    –make a big pot of grains or lentils/beans
    — roast some yummy veggies: we did carrots, beets and mushrooms
    — purchase crumbly cheese: feta, goat, chedder

    prior evening, layer everything in tupperware or jar. bring to work and add some dressing/seasoning. voila, bowl of goodness!

  100. Today I have freekeh and leftover turkey meatloaf. I’m not one of those PB&J sandwich girls. I just don’t think that would fill me up. I love leftovers for lunch.
    Sometimes I go to food trucks parked by my work or meet friends for lunch, but mostly it’s whatever I bring from home.

    If you have a microwave at work, this butternut squash soup is great and filling: http://www.mangotomato.com/2017/01/real-simple-meatless-monday-green-curry.html

  101. Lisa says...

    I eat every few hours and my lunch box/bag has a ridiculous amount of glass/Tupperware to hold my various snacks, but I usually eat the same things every day. 10 a.m. is whole fat plain yogurt with honey, pecans and golden raisins. Around noon, I’ll eat either leftovers from dinner the night before or a salad w/ kale, blueberries, mushrooms, feta, and maybe a topper like a fried egg/chicken/tuna. Then around 3pm, I’ll eat an apple w/ cheddar and usually some additional fruit like blackberries or raspberries. Some of my co-workers only eat one meal during the day – I don’t know how they do that. I love to eat though and if I’m going to eat every few hours, I try to make most of those times somewhat healthy.

  102. Sandra says...

    I am a SAHM (and do a little part-time work) and my lunches are so hit or miss. Sometimes it is leftovers, or if I’m really busy something not so great like peanut butter toast. I’m excited for new inspiration. When I used to work in an office we had a salad bar and I ate a spinach salad with tons of veggies every day.

    Yesterday I had the bean salad below. I made it the day before, but I don’t add avocado until I’m ready to eat a serving because I hate mushy stuff that has been sitting in the fridge. I love the idea of those make ahead mason jar breakfast/lunch ideas, but the mushy factor totally skeeves me out.

    http://noblepig.com/2016/06/avocado-three-bean-salad/

  103. anon says...

    I need lunch tips like bad! Today I will be having leftovers (lettuce wraps). I have found after seven years of working from home that soups work well for me and don’t cause me to run to a restaurant. The soups aren’t home-made; instead, pre-made soups from the grocery deli are a win.

  104. Allison says...

    We plan our dinners and our lunches every week, and we do Vegan Before 6 so it takes some planning to use leftovers for lunch, but yesterday’s lunch was a roasted chickpea wrap. The hubs and I will pick things for lunch that can be made the night before, and we try to get at least 2 days (or 4 meals) worth of lunch from it.

  105. Lane says...

    I might sound like an ad, but since I started using Hello Fresh, I always have a tasty, healthy lunch that I look forward to. I live alone and am on the 2 person plan, so sometimes I’ll have one serving for dinner and one for lunch the next day, or sometimes I’ll save both for lunch. I know that it can be a slippery slope to buying something expensive/unhealthy or packing something underwhelming, so it’s my way of fending off those hunger pangs midday and keeping myself on track toward good eating!

    • Shara says...

      HelloFresh is my lunch of choice everyday, too :)

  106. siheme says...

    hello guys,

    I am French and my lunch box reflects what I had the night before. Today, I have couscous and vegetables. It is my mom’s Tunisian recipe. I also pack a small salad, a babybel cheese and a yogurt (the brand NOOSA is the only one that makes me feel good: remind me of Europe).
    Basically, my lunch needs to be complete with a small entrée, the main meal, a cheese and a dessert. I can’t function without good fulfilling food ;-)

    • LOVE Noosa yogurt, but only eat it once in a blue moon because it’s basically a dessert ;)

    • Julie D says...

      Fellow Frenchy here! I’m with on the 4 courses meal for lunch! I don’t know how most people in the US survive on a cliff bar and a yogurt!

  107. Naomi says...

    I meal prep for the week on Sundays so I always have something to eat at work. I always like to have a lot of vegetables so this week I made a kale, potato, mushroom, and onion curry (I made rice to go with it as well). I usually like to have a few small sides as well like vegetables or fruit. Throughout this week I had carrots, blood orange, avocado, and banana.

  108. Have you read ‘Lunch at the Shop’ by Peter Miller? It’s part cookbook, part memoir about the staff of a small bookshop in Seattle who take turns making lunch for each other each day. I have to say–it’s lovely and could conceivably be #NotASadDeskLunch the book.

  109. Hannah says...

    I’m already in that state of mind where I know somewhere in the near future will be the unavoidable bikini – so I’ve been doing healthy lunches. My favorite is to roast a pan full of veggies the night before with olive oil, salt, and pepper and warm up for lunch. It’s filling, low-calorie, and you can easily switch it up by changing the veg. Today is sweet potato, brussel sprouts, onion, and asparagus. Easy and affordable!

  110. Kathy says...

    I pack my lunch every day. I’m a grad student and the food options on campus are not great. I usually do salads with a base of kale/shaved brussels sprouts/cabbage so that they don’t wilt when dressed, roasted sweet potato, mushroom, poached chicken, black beans and cherry tomato. Last week I switched things up to make tandoori cauliflower wraps.

  111. Allison Dobbins says...

    I pack the same thing almost every day! Butter lettuce with pre-cooked beets from Trader Joes, Goat Cheese and sunflower seeds. I make my own lemon/olive oil dressing and keep it at work. If I tire of the salad, I’ll switch it up by replacing apples or other fruit for the beets!

  112. Layne Dettor says...

    I’m a nurse and a very religious lunch packer. I don’t like to spend money at work. Work is for making money, not spending money! I like to make a big meal that I can eat for several days (e.g. vegetable curry, chile, etc.) If all else fails: rice and beans it is!

  113. Katie says...

    I am loving reading what everyone has for lunch! it’s almost as good as peering into people’s carts in the trader joe’s line. SO interesting.

    I’m a big fan of leftovers for lunch. this week it’s been real simple’s eggplant rollatini, with a big side of steamed (formerly frozen) broccoli or steamed (also formerly frozen) spinach. feels balanced enough to me when there’s a big pile of veggies on the plate!

    other weeks I get on a mason jar kick, layering in whatever odds and ends are in the fridge (with some sort of dressing/sauce at the bottom), then shaking it up when it’s time to eat.

  114. Katie says...

    Oh, work lunches. Sometimes I try to bring a sandwich. It’s usually a very boring turkey + mustard sammie. I tend to eat a few bites of it and then not finish it because it’s so lame. I love when we have leftover soup or something (leftover lentil soup is my faaaaavorite). I will usually treat myself to lunch out once per week (today is my lunch treat day and I can’t wait!). My favorite spot is a Mediterranean place nearby. Their mujadara combo is to die for. Also…they give you a nice little serving of garlic spread that I always tell myself I won’t finish (because, HELLO GARLIC BREATH), but I can never control myself. Garlic…so…good.

  115. Laura says...

    I work from home and if I’m not having leftovers my favorite things to make are rice bowls with the uncle bens ready rice microwave pouches. Half of one with either Mexican toppings or an Asian stir fry is perfect for lunch, and I never get tired of either. Sometimes if we have 0 groceries I’ll run to the Subway across the street and a get a sandwich there.

  116. being a busy working mom, lunch is the ultimate treat for me. my default is to go to Dig Inn or The Little Beet for delicious well-rounded meals, like salmon with quinoa and broccoli, or chicken with farro, kale and squash. but i try to take advantage of NYC too, so occasionally i’ll duck into Ippudo or Yakitori Totto for a nice quick delectable lunch with a side of solitude. :)

  117. Sasha says...

    Yesterday I had garlicky black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, spinach, coconut rice with buddha sauce (garbanzo, lemon, pb, nutritional yeast, garlic all whizzed smooth in blender).
    I usually have leftovers (we make a homemade dinner every night), or I’ll have roasted veggies with quinoa or rice and whatever sauce I’ve got, thai pb, curry, balsalmic shallot. I try to roast a couple kinds of veggies every Sunday, brussels sprouts, broccoli, potatoes, and I always have some kind of cooked dried beans or lentils too (do those on Sunday too).

  118. I usually make a lot of something on Sunday to bring for lunch at least four days of the week ahead (Friday is #treatyoself day and I buy a lunch at one of my favorite neighborhood spots or order from Maple). This week, I’ve been having salads with arugula, roasted beets, roasted chickpeas (omg so good!!!) and tahini dressing, and roasted butternut squash soup (this recipe: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015484-coconut-butternut-squash-soup). Some of my other favorite things to bring for lunch are sweet potato chili, rice bowls with some combination of roasted veggie and chicken, and curry. I like to keep lunch healthy, so that if my husband and I decide to, say, for example, order burritos for dinner (not that we did that just last night or anything…) I can still feel like my diet is fairly balanced.

  119. Andrea B says...

    My favorite easy lunch is a baked sweet potato with mashed avocado, black beans, salsa or sun dried tomatoes and some chopped cilantro and scallions. I add a fried egg when I’m feeling fancy.

    The best part is that while you microwave the sweet potato (7 minutes) you have time to fry the egg, mash some avo, etc. Basically, you can forget to pack your lunch until you are running out the door, then make this.

  120. Kate says...

    Am I the only person who eats out every day? I know it’s a huge expenditure, but it is my one “fun” category in my budget (I am a single lady with no kids, I don’t drink, I don’t do exercise classes, I don’t shop except for necessity). I get an hour for lunch every day and there are a ton of great places around my office, and I really look forward to my daily date with myself! I know I could do something similar by packing my lunch and going to sit and eat at a park or a cafe and just order a coffee or something, and I sometimes think about what I could save up for with that money instead, but for right now the “treat yo self” approach is working for me (I went through a terrible breakup recently and some other life events, so being gentle and indulging and not being strict with myself feels good). Yesterday I had a tofu and veggie shoyu ramen bowl with extra eggs, followed by a tea latte!

    • Kristin says...

      I did this when I was single with no kids and it was AWESOME. Now I am married and we have 3 kids and we are almost finished with a 10 year stretch of paying for full time daycare (and for 5 years of those years we had 2 kids in full time care at the same time) and it has been bagged lunches for me and my husband pretty much every day. I am dreaming of the many, many ways I will spend this money when my youngest is in kindergarten this Fall, and seriously one of my top priorities is to have lunch out once a week! :) Until then, I will live vicariously through you, Kate!

    • Sunny says...

      I’m with you, Kate! Single, not an overspender, and I eat out for lunch. I have a smoothie at home every morning and eat dinner at home every night, so my indulgence during the week is to eat lunch out. It’s my time to be immersed in a book or meet a friend and enjoy a great meal. Many of my coworkers spend the lunch hour in the office kitchen but I need to leave the office behind for an hour to clear my head. On occasion I do bring a sandwich and drive to one of the lakes nearby and stare out at the water, enjoying the view. My lunch today will be a burrito bowl and a glass of sparkling water while I start a new book! (I also bring nuts, cheese, and fruit to eat at 3 PM when my stomach begins to rumble, hours before dinnertime.)

    • Rach says...

      I’m with you Kate!!! I do the exact same thing!! =) I’m single, childless, and working in Chicago…there’s plenty of places to sit and get away for a moment.

  121. Hannah Joy says...

    My lunches are usually leftovers, but my all-time favorite lunch started as a kid when my Mom would pack me a French roll and a hunk of cheddar cheese. As an adult I add a thermos of soup and I am the happiest of midday eaters in the faculty lunch room!

  122. Annie says...

    I pack lunch everyday and eat pretty much the same thing: salad of mixed baby greens, baby carrots, and lite balsamic dressing; frozen burrito (Good Food Made Simple); homemade whole-wheat chocolate zucchini muffin. If I have dinner leftovers from the night before, I eat that instead of the burrito.

  123. Emily says...

    Ash Wednesday – frozen Amy’s vegan black bean tamale with rice, some tortilla chips, and two clementines. Tuesday was leftover homemade white pizza with bacon and one clementine. I try to bring leftovers if I’m bringing my lunch to work.

  124. Morag says...

    It is Thursday, so pea soup and pancakes! (It’s a standard Swedish Thursday meal. And the pancakes do NOT go into the soup apparently..)

    • Sasha says...

      I love split pea soup, with toast or mashed potatoes, yum. I’ll have to try with pancakes, love those too.

  125. Meg says...

    I try to make my lunches very veggie heavy so I can enjoy a satisfying (read: carbs! cheese!) dinner without feeling guilty. :) In the fall and winter I tend to make big pots of soup that I freeze in portions and then reheat for lunch (I work from home). But March falls right about the time that I’m sick of soup, but also not really interested in salads (my go-to summer lunch). Looking forward to getting some inspiration from your lunch series this month!

    • Sasha says...

      Grain and veggie bowls?

      I love soup too, but my dh begs for something else by March. If I throw homemade bread croutons or dumplings in, he’s a little happier :)
      Soup is just so easy and comforting.

    • Martha says...

      Sounds magical!

  126. Lauren E. says...

    My go to lunch lately has been a roasted sweet potato topped with black beans, shredded cheddar, and a VERY healthy dose of Frank’s Red Hot. Yesterday I added some leftover rice from the previous night’s dinner, and for “dessert” I have an apple with peanut butter. I am a creature of habit and have been eating it every day for weeks. Not sick of it yet!

  127. I’m known at work for my daily “rainbow salad”. Greens, red peppers, purple cabbage…you get the idea. I eat it every single day. Why? It doesn’t lead to the afternoon post-lunch coma! When I left my last job, I sent a picture of my Rainbow Salad to my boss, to remember me by.

  128. Caitlin says...

    I recently adapted an AMAZING salad I had at Jack’s Wife Freda for my daily homemade lunches–arugula, cherry tomatoes, tuna, and grated parmesan (drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette). The original salad also had avocadoes but I (controversial, I know) am not a big avocado fan. It’s easy to make, the tuna keeps me full throughout the day, and I haven’t gotten sick of it so far!

  129. Mary says...

    OT, but so many of you work from home…any tips on finding work-from-home jobs?

    • Sandra says...

      It depends on your field, but I feel like a lot of the time work-from-home jobs develop out of long experience with an office job. My husband is a software sales engineer and used to work in an office (with a horrible commute) for a number of years. Now he has enough experience that he has been able to work mostly from home with some on-site meetings and travel.

      I do occasional freelance proofreading projects from home, but I also spent a number of years working as a copy editor/editor/writer in an office gig before this.

      I would also love to hear about other home based jobs, maybe ones that don’t require a lot of experience (the ones I see online all seem kind of scammy, but I am sure there are some real ones out there). Maybe in a future COJ post? :-)

    • Andrea B says...

      yes, I would love to see a post on this too!

    • Kristin says...

      I negotiated it when I took a job 5 years ago. I lived almost an hour away, and I refused to commute that far every day. Thankfully they had no problem with it, so now I work in the office 3 days a week and at home 2 days. It’s a perfect balance for me. I love working at home to be able to get those long stretches of dedicated, quiet, intense work done. I also use my work at home days to throw in some laundry, start dinner a little early, and occasionally volunteer in my kid’s classrooms. Plus, I get to pick them up from school, which is awesome. It is definitely a bit of a challenge when you are supervising staff, but I think I’ve figured out good strategies to manage people from afar. If you really want to do it, just ask! Even if you only get one day at home a week it is a wonderful break from the daily grind of going into an office each day. I know a number of people in different professions who do it. I think it is becoming more common.

    • d says...

      Yes, I agree. I’d love a longer discussion on this…

  130. Ana says...

    A BIG salad that I make myself at the stop n shop salad bar (can be made at a NYC deli or home obvs) – mixed greens, spinach, bell peppers, cucumber, onion, a few olives, baby carrots, small amount of chick pea and/or red kidney beans, a little cheese, and about 2 tsp dressing that I thoroughly mix in with the veggies so they are coated not drenched. along with that I have some seltzer, a small popcorn bag, and a fruit to end the meal. overall the meal is not heavy, very nutritious, and doesn’t make my stomach go craaazy (I have IBS) :)

    • Ana says...

      and thankfully I haven’t gotten tired of it yet (this has been my go-to lunch for the past 1.5 months or so)

  131. Allie says...

    Same thing at least 4 days a week – salad made from home: Kale, sliced almonds, dried cranberries or clementine slices, and whatever other veggies I happen to have on hand (broccoli, sweet potato, chickpeas) combined with a portion of chicken off of one of those pre-made rotisseries from Whole Foods. Easy prep the night before, add some kind of oil and vinegar dressing in the AM. Kale is substantial enough to sit in dressing all morning without wilting too much. Tasty, not too boring flavor-wise, lets me use leftovers effectively, and doesn’t take too long to prep!

  132. Melissa says...

    AWESOME topic!!! Clearly hits home for so many people, shown by the number of comments already! I try to bring lunch from home 2-3x a week. Lunch food around the office is pricey and not very tasty! My lunch is usually dinner leftovers. I noticed a number of people mentioned meal prep, but when I make a meal that is specifically for the week’s lunch, its often some sort of pasta. Pasta seems to last longer and is easy to reheat in a microwave. I don’t like it when bread or salad gets soggy (e.g. from tomato or dressing) or when proteins start to change flavor from age. Can’t wait to see your suggestions!

  133. Louise says...

    I’ve eaten the same thing every day for years….a salad with spinach, broccoslaw, grape tomatoes, red onion and carrots with chicken (I cook a big batch on sunday to last me the week of lunches) and either a slice of cheese or a hard boiled egg. I top it with balsamic vinegar I keep in my desk. It’s healthy and plenty filling.

  134. Kelly says...

    I had pasta al pomodoro mmmmm :). Got three portions out of the pot I made. I usually meal prep for the weekdays but been a bit slack lately. Although I always stick to “cook once, eat twice”.

  135. Amy Shay says...

    leftovers for the win! always. i often will make a big batch of stew or soup in the winter, or pasta salad in the summertime. and nurse those with some extras (i.e. cheese and crackers, a clementine, apple, etc) all week.

  136. Elga says...

    Eggplant lasagna (I’m on a low carb diet!)

  137. Alyssa says...

    Sometimes it’s an English muffin with peanut butter but lately I’ve been trying to do better. I recently made Ambitious Kitchen’s green curry and have been loving it!

  138. Chiara says...

    Next to my office there’s a deli which sells gourmand salads. I love them!

  139. Emily M. says...

    I’m pumped for this! I keep cans of tuna, lentils and chickpeas in my filing cabinet at all times, and mayo in the office fridge. So I’ll do tuna with a lentil or a chickpea and grab whatever fresh veggies I remember to grab from home. It’s a healthy go-to and I love it but I also can’t do it 5 days a week.

  140. Robin J. says...

    This is my non-fail, go-to recipe. I make these mini lasagnas on Sunday, and I eat two for lunch (with a veggie side) all week. They’re healthy, replacing pasta noodles with wonton wrappers. This has become a staple with the ladies in my office because they’re so satisfying!

    http://www.andiemitchell.com/petite-lasagnas/

  141. Erin says...

    i almost always bring leftovers of the dinner the night before. other weeks where i know I probably won’t get leftovers, I’ll make a big batch of soup and have that for the week!

  142. Angela says...

    As a vegan, I have to be a little more intentional about my lunches. I’m a hard core health nut so things get a little utilitarian from time to time. Usually I cook both breakfast and lunch the evening before. It’s almost always a cooked salad, veggies sauteed in coconut oil with a little bit of something substantial in it like beans (which I sprout and cook for the week in advance), hummus, tofu, quinoa, etc. Eating is a huge deal to me, I want my meal to make me feel good in my body and in my mouth and to power me for a solid few hours. If I’m in a terrible bind (like when we were moving), I will get something like chipotle or a vegan modified meal from taco bell with lots of water.

  143. Clare says...

    My usual packed lunch is yogurt, some fruit and a piece of bread with peanut butter. But yesterday I had a lunch meeting at a nearby deli and got a tuna salad (one of those scoops of delicious tuna salad on a bed of lettuce and assorted veggies). It was really satisfying.

  144. I recently realized I operate better with routines and lunch was no exception, so I asked myself what my ideal lunch meal was: something healthy and relatively inexpensive that doesn’t take a million years to make but also doesn’t bore me. I decided on these ginger, tamari ground turkey lettuce wraps that I made several weeks ago from a recipe on Fresh 20. It’s so delicious–flavorful and simple but something I can easily change up depending on whatever random things I have in the fridge and might like to add. I usually like to have some other greens/veggies on the side, yesterday it was green beans, or fruit. I made a big batch of the turkey the other day so assembling would be easy. It’s great hot or cold! If I’m not eating that I’ll have leftovers from dinner or yogurt with nuts or seeds, honey, berries, shredded unsweetened coconut and bee pollen. It’s amazing!