If your to-do list never goes down, then having some quick and easy work lunch ideas up your sleeve can help you maximise your break while enjoying some nutritious food.
Having a good meal at lunchtime provides the energy and nutrients needed to keep the body and brain working efficiently into the afternoon. It also stops you from getting hangry (angry when hungry) when you get home and have to deal with your other full-time job - parenting.
And when you bring in your own packed lunch to the office, you can not only save money but also make sure you have some nutritious food in your belly. So whether you’re old school and want the best sandwich fillings, or are interested in low-calorie lunches, we’ve got you covered.
"When it comes to work lunches I usually opt for leftovers from last night's dinner or readymade foods like shop-bought soups for quickness as I don't want to spend all my lunch break cooking - especially when I've got to do that for dinner time as well," says Food Editor, Jessica Dady. "It's all about speedy meals, that are still packed full of flavour, give you a nice little health boost, and keep you full until it's school pick-up time."
Easy work lunch ideas
1. Vegetable and feta couscous salad
Serves 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins
This recipe is really quick and easy to make and you can batch cook enough for the week to save time and effort. If you’re not a fan of feta you can substitute it with halloumi for a high protein hit to keep you fuller for longer.
Top tip: To make the salad more flavoursome, cook the couscous in chicken or vegetable stock.
Get the recipe: Couscous salad
2. Chunky vegetable soup
Serves: 4-6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 mins
This warming vegetable soup is not only packed with immune-boosting ingredients, but it’s also really cheap and low in calories. It serves four to six, so is another great work lunch idea to batch cook and freeze in individual portions.
Top tip: To up the calorie content, enjoy with a spoonful of creme fraiche and crunchy seeds or a wholemeal roll.
Get the recipe: Chunky vegetable soup
3. Slimming World’s Spanish style tortilla
Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 55 mins
If you’re watching your weight or trying to drop a few pounds, this low-calorie tortilla is the perfect work lunch idea. It’s extremely filling thanks to the protein in the eggs and has immune-boosting ingredients including garlic and onion.
Top tip: This dish is just as tasty cold as it is hot, so you can portion it up for the working week and serve it with different sides, such as a green salad or couscous, or even serve it Spanish style in a crunchy roll.
Get the recipe: Slimming World’s Spanish style tortilla
4. Tuscan bean soup
Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hour
Full of filling beans and a great way to use up any leftover veg, this Tuscan soup is as cheap to make as it is delicious. You can use any kind of beans (as long as they’re not baked beans) and add in your favourite veg.
Top tip: Stir in some iron-rich leafy veg like kale or spinach at the end, and top with some green pesto.
Get the recipe: Tuscan bean soup
5. Healthy pea soup
Serves: 4-6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins
Pea soup is a really easy work lunch because most of us have a bag of peas in the freezer - the only extra ingredient you might need to grab is some fresh mint. It’s also nutritious and quick to make, and you can freeze individual portions so you have lunch on the go all week. Make it more indulgent by adding creme fraiche or a plant-based alternative.
Top tip: For an extra flavour kick, add some roasted garlic to the soup before blending. Garlic also has immunity-boosting properties so it’s a great addition to any work lunch to help you power through your day.
Get the recipe: Healthy pea soup
6. Coronation chicken and coriander sandwich
Serves: 2 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins
This sandwich is a great way to use up leftover chicken from a Sunday roast and using cooked meat means it’s really quick to prepare. Chicken is really high in protein so this is a very filling lunch that will give you the energy you need to power on through your working day.
Top tip: Don’t have any cooked chicken to hand? You can quickly roast chicken breasts in the oven for about 20 minutes (or until cooked through). Season them with salt and pepper before roasting and cover them with tin foil to keep them as moist as possible.
Get the recipe: Coronation chicken and coriander sandwich
7. Flatbread salad
Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins
We give you the flatbread for those trying to eat a little healthier. The perfect bread substitute that can be easily stored in your freezer and defrosted quickly and ready for use. This flatbread is bursting with goodness topped with avocado, toasted almonds, and tenderstem broccoli.
Top tip: You can add leftover meat from last night's dinner like chicken or shredded duck, etc. to this flatbread to make it even more filling.
Get the recipe: Flatbread salad
8. Indian spiced rosti and fried egg
Serves: 1 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins
It takes just 5 mins to cook, and 15 mins to cook this dish however a lot of the components can be made ahead so you don't have to spend the full 20 minutes in the kitchen. A really simple dish made with just a handful of fresh ingredients; coriander, carrot, courgette, and a fried egg.
Top tip: If you need this dish to take away, omit the fried egg for boiled egg instead. That way you can pack up the whole dish and take the office with you.
Get the recipe: Indian spiced rosti and fried egg
9. Vegan quinoa salad with asparagus and toasted nuts
Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins
Another super healthy option that can be ready in just 20 minutes and is perfect for prepping ahead. The homemade dressing can be made the night before and ready to enjoy the next day, all you have to do is prep the salad on the morning of so it's as fresh as can be come lunchtime. A mixture of spinach, asparagus, cashews, and sunflower seeds gives this salad a wonderful taste with plenty of different textures.
Top tip: Cooking the quinoa the night before is also a great way to prep ahead as quinoa can be served hot or cold.
Get the recipe: Vegan quinoa salad with asparagus and toasted nuts
In the summer months, why not try one of our quick and easy picnic food ideas for lunch instead of the usual heavy sandwich, or in the winter months, one of our homemade chunky soup recipes is sure to inspire. We've got an array of healthy lunch ideas to choose from too.
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Maddy Biddulph is a freelance journalist specialising in lifestyle and family-focused content. With 25 years in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the UK and US. As a mum of two art-obsessed daughters, Daphne and Esther, Maddy is always looking for parenting hacks to make life easier. She is also a Level 3 personal trainer, and creates energising workouts for busy mums who need some me time.
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