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10 Simple and Satisfying Lunches for Chaotic Times

Great lunch recipes for families working and schooling from home

Jackie Freeman
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Published on: November 03, 2020

Ramen-salad

Working and schooling from home might have you frazzled and hungry, which makes it even more important to eat a nutritious lunch to charge bodies and brains. But with the crunch to hop on the next Zoom meeting, finding the time (and motivation) to make a meal can be tricky. Turn to these simple and satisfying lunches that will help fill and fuel big and little bodies alike. 

1. Ramen noodle salad 

Chances are you have a few packages of ramen noodles tucked away in your cupboard. Toss in a few shredded veggies (hint: buy a package of pre-shredded carrots or coleslaw mix), some leftover grilled chicken, fish or tofu, and you have a great make-ahead meal courtesy of Dinner at the Zoo. The best part: No cooking necessary!

2. Chicken salad with grapes 

With a bit of crunch and a bit of sweet, Add a Pinch’s chicken salad is a family winner. Use leftover chicken from last nights’ meal and keep the prepped chicken salad in the fridge for up to 3 days for an instant lunch. You can pile it between slices of bread, tuck it into a pita or add a scoop on top of a green salad.

3. Easy pesto tortellini pasta salad

This quick and easy pasta salad from Baker by Nature actually tastes even better if you let it sit in the fridge for a day or two. So, make it ahead of time (perhaps boil some extra tortellini the next time you make tortellini soup or casserole for dinner), cover and chill. The best part (besides the flavor) is that it only takes five ingredients and 10 minutes to make.

4. Easy tuna tacos 

RachlMansfield dives into the cupboard to whip together a hearty lunch in under 10 minutes that won’t leave you too sleepy for your next Zoom lesson or meeting. Tuna has a lot of great health benefits (including protein and omega-3 fatty acids), but try and pick low-mercury varieties so you can eat more, more often. If you don’t have avocado mayonnaise, simply swap it out for the traditional and feel free to add or subtract your favorite taco toppings.

5. Homemade pizza pockets 

If your kids love pizza pockets, they’ll love helping to create their own (with their favorite fillings). The Girl on Bloor’s recipe uses store-bought pizza dough, but you can also try biscuit dough. Make a large batch, cool completely, then wrap individual pizza pockets in plastic and freeze. When you’re hungry, it’s as simple as popping one in the microwave for a few minutes for a freshly baked — and healthier — version of this famous lunch treat.  

6. Black-bean-stuffed avocados 

Creamy, rich and loaded with nutrients (including healthy fats and vitamins), avocados are the perfect vessel for your next lunch stuffing. In Kitchen Trial and Error’s recipe, it’s as simple as putting together a few key ingredients. You can make your own beans and pico de gallo, or cheat a little bit and buy canned versions at the grocery store.

7. Quick and easy pizza bagels 

All you need are four ingredients and 20 minutes (half of which is cooking time in the oven) to make Spend With Pennies bagel pizzas. Customize with your favorite go-to pizza toppings, or keep it simple with cheese and pepperoni. These breakfast-turned-lunch meals also make perfect leftovers for a lunch or snack later in the week.

8. Waffle iron grilled cheese

What makes a grilled cheese even better? Making it in a waffle iron! Fifteen Spatulas knows that cooking sandwiches in the waffle iron makes them extra crisp, with perfect nooks and crannies for dipping into tomato soup (grab a box or make your own). Don’t skimp on the butter — it adds flavor and color for the perfect golden-brown crust.

9. Sesame noodles 

They taste just like takeout, but are healthier, cheaper and require less of a wait. Gimme Some Oven’s sesame noodles can be served hot or cold, and are easily customizable with your favorite veggies or proteins. Pro tip: if you make spaghetti for dinner, cook up an extra batch of noodles to make into lunch for the next day.

10. Easy sheet-pan panini 

If you need to feed a crowd, put your oven and a heavy pan to work to make one large sandwich to feed many hungry mouths. Choose your favorite deli meats and cheeses (such as ham and cheese, or roast beef and swiss), and everyone can add their own sauces after the sandwich has baked. You can even speed up the process a bit with a tip from Mel’s Kitchen Café: Remove the weight and second sheet pan halfway through baking for a quick browning of the crust (just be careful it doesn’t burn).

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