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Quick, easy, tasty, healthy, inexpensive lunch at work?

  • b

I'm trying to drop a few pounds, and I think that one of the steps down that path is going out for lunch less often. So, when you don't have leftovers to bring in from dinner last night, what do you bring to work for lunch?

Today I stopped at Whole Foods on my way to the office and picked up a (gasp) frozen dinner that I thought was surprisingly good. It was a Kashi brand "Southwestern Chicken" on a bed of some kind of whole grain, and for about $4 (expensive for a frozen meal, cheap compared to even grabbing a sandwich or a salad out), it was quick, easy, tasty, high in fiber, and only 240 calories. And three hours later, I can't believe I'm still satisfied.

So, any other suggestions?



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  1. Today I had summer squash, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. For "dessert" I had a peach and some yogurt with fresh blueberries. Love this time of year- the vegatables from my garden are making me a happy camper!

    1. A cup of cooked couscous (I like to use whole wheat) with a half a cup of chickpeas or kidney beans, a little bit of olive oil, your favourite vinegar or lemon juice, dash of hot sauce.
      You can add many things - sundried tomatoes, green onions, etc.

      I also like a salad of chopped blanched broccoli and cauliflower with chickpeas or cubed firm tofu, sliced red onions and a light olive oil/vinegar, garlic, S&P combo.

      Another good frozen line is Amy's Organic. I'm sure they have it at Whole Foods - all kinds of different frozen dinners, burritos and soups - their "chicken" soup is very good.

      A wrap with light cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, dill, red onion.

      1. last night (to let the flavors meld) i sliced up some early girl tomatoes, basil, a shallot, a little goat cheese, a little parmesan, and tossed it all with olive oil and salt/pepper. and now i have a lovely lunch putting my tomato salad on fresh focaccia.

        another easy lunch is a spinach salad with cherry tomatoes, carrots, and some form of protein. i particularly like it with a thin spinach-basil pesto sauce instead of dressing.

        there's also a product called tofu2go which isn't bad (i like the "thai" one) if i'm in a total rush. bring some veggies and toss with microwaved tofu.

        1. I'm in salad mode these days what with all the fabulous greens at the farmers markets and an abundance of cherry tomatoes from the garden. I've been doing red leaf lettuce, chopped cherry tomatoes, red onion, grilled chicken, cucumbers, greek feta with some sort of tangy vinaigrette. Just delish. I also slice up a few whole cucumbers and sprinkle with rice vinegar and dill for an afternoon snack which is SOooo yummy!

          1. I have been cutting back on portions recently and one of the most filling and best tasting lunches I have been making start w/ a serving of brown rice, couscous, bulgar or quinoa. I cook up a big batch on Sunday, separate it into 5 servings and then refrigerate. I then add a variety of things to it during the week. this weeks lunches have looked like this:

            1) couscous topped w/ sauteed zucchini, summer squash, mushroom and onions and a spicy low-fat chicken sausage

            2) couscous mixed w/ broccoli, sliced chicken breast and topped w/ grated parm.

            3) Bulgar w/ black beans, salsa and pepper jack cheese

            4) Bulgar, sliced flank steak, low fat cheddar cheese in a wrap.

            I also always have in freezer a few of the lean cuisine "spa cuisines" for emergencies. I did try the Kashi pasta w/ chicken and it was quite good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodieX2

              thanks for the portioning idea! I'm the queen of leftovers at work and am always looking for new ideas. Sounds great and really fits my penchant for 'a bit of this and that'--good way to use up two or three perfectly good bites of something.

              Learned the technique from my mom who'd make three course gourmet lunches till she was in her late 80's.

            2. I just got turned on to this amazing new sandwich recipe -- take whole grain bread, spread on prepared hummus, top with thin cucumber slices, lettuce or sprouts, tomato if you have it, and sliced avocado. Add a sprinkle of salt and another slice of bread - it's amazing and keeps me full all afternoon!

              1. I second the hummus on whole grain. Dark rye or pumpernickel keeps you feeling full. I top it with sliced white turkey for a protein blast. No mayo, no mustard.

                I've been keeping Edy's fruit popsicles in the freezer too, lately. But it means I have to share with my colleagues.

                1. Do you have Trader Joe's? Their roasted vegetable enchiladas are not too high in calories and very satisfying.

                  Also leftover brown rice with one of those Indian curry packets -- this week I used the eggplant one with some cubed Thai tofu for protein.

                  When I make salmon for dinner I try to make an extra piece to save for lunch the next day, usually over salad greens.

                  1. I second the Trader Joes choice. They have these "Cup-A-Soup" Black Bean soups that are REALLY high in fiber and protein. I will make one of those with a salad, or fruit, and the fiber and protein really hold me for a good long time.

                    1. I think I'm gonna give this salad thing a shot. And maybe the grain suggestion. I've never made bulgar or quinoa, though I recall another thread recommending one or the other for a hot-weather no-cook meal.

                      By sheer coincidence, on Friday I had leftover mesclun greens, grilled chicken breast, and mango salsa in the fridge, so I tossed the greens with some EVOO, lime juice, S&P and topped it with the chicken & salsa. Very satisfying, filling, quick, cheap, & healthy.


                      1. If you are prepping something at the beginning of the week, one nice one to try is chicken fingers. Toss chicken pieces in some salt, pepper, and dijon mustard with a touch of lemon rind grated in. Dredge the chicken in regular bread crumbs or panko, the superlight japanese bread crumbs. Bake it on a baking sheet at 400 F and start checking it after about 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken pieces. It should be firm but yielding just slightly (if it's at all mushy it's not done; and it's good to know that the chicken keeps cooking a little after you take it off the heat). If you have a meat thermometer (everyone who doesn't has no idea what they're missing -- check this out http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Orlando2002/...), the temperature should be 165 F in the thickest part.

                        You can eat the chicken strips or nuggets as finger food like a kid would, slice them up and put them on a salad, or even include them in sandwiches. And the kids usually like them too.

                        1. Right now I am doing what I call the Farmer's Market Diet...lotta fruit and veggies. I tend to do wraps to cut down on bread. To give them a kick, I add Trader Joe's artichoke or roasted pepper tapanades...nice change from mustard and such.

                          One of my quick favorites...bake a potato the night before and cook some boca "meat" with low salt taco seasoning. Heat it up the next day and throw some onions on top. I also like to roast beets when the weather is cooler and throw some balsamic vinegar on them.

                          1. I'm also doing the farmer's market diet... eating mostly fruits and vegetables. I include yogurt, cheese or hummous for protein.

                            But other times of the year I will microwave a sweet potato and top it with some Trader Joe's canned chili. Another easy one is cheese "quesadillas" that I make in the microwave (just corn tortillas with a bit of cheese between them) and top with black bean and corn salsa (dessert pepper trading company is my favorite). In the summer, I dice zucchini or squash cook it in the microwave and add that to my quesadilla.

                            And whenever I make lasagna, stuffed peppers or soup, I freeze individual portions in microwavable containers. Makes for inexpensive and very healthy frozen dinners.