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Lunch Ideas for work- No fridge, no Micro-wave

Hey guys- I am looking for ideas of lunches for work that are healthy (im wathcing my weight) and to help save money, I can pack in a mini lunch box cooler or i can but hot soups in a thermos but i have no fridge or microwave. Any suggestions???? Thanks so much!!!

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  1. I make a really good barley salad that is very healthy and can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. I don't really use a recipe, but basically you boil barley until it is tender (but not soft) to start with, then add any combination of (very) finely chopped veggies. I always use an English cucumber, maybe carrots (blanched), radishes and when tomatoes are in season I add some chopped tomatoes. Also add any or all of the following: toasted nuts of some sort (pine nuts, pepitas, chopped up walnuts or pecans); kalamata olives, crumbled feta or goat cheese or cubed mozzarella, I've added raisins before. Definitely some finely chopped garlic, maybe caramelized onions. For dressing: a few teaspoons of olive oil and red wine vinegar or lemon juice, some oregano, salt, pepper and some fresh chopped herbs like parsley or dill. This makes a great, satisfying lunch and you can make it on Sunday and eat it for a few days. It's also very flexible, like if you have some leftovers like grilled chicken or fish, maybe some cooked veggies just chop them up and add them. It keeps really well because of the vinegar or lemon juice.

    The secret to making it delicious is to use good ingredients if you can, splurge on the olive oil and some maldon sea salt...buy your veggies at the farmer's market, change what you put in the salad to eat seasonally. Right now I've been making it with leftover shredded cooked kale, pine nuts, raisins and red pepper. For some reason barley works best. It doesn't get soggy like a pasta salad will.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bolletje

      Bolletje -
      Thanks so much for this barley salad Idea -- it has renewed my love affair with barley. I love it! I've eaten this salad for the past week and can't get enough!

    2. Similar to that, I make a pasta salad with my favorite vegetables such as red bell pepper, carrots, celery, artichokes, olives, etc. I sometimes add protein with some ham or chicken and sometimes shave my favorite cheese on top. Then I just make a vinagrette and I drizzle it on top of the salad in the morning. By the time lunch comes around, the dressing has worked it's way down and throughout the salad. With a cooler pack, it can keep until lunch without a refrigerator. It doesn't get soggy either because I don't drown it in dressing.

      1. What about a whole wheat pita stuffed with your favorite veggies? It's one of my favorite healthy foods right now. Or you could do a wrap with a tortilla, just leave off any dressing until you're ready to eat.
        Fruit would be good too - an apple with peanut butter is so yummy! I bring apples, oranges, and bananas to work all the time.
        You could find a cereal to eat dry if you can't keep milk cold.
        If you can get hot water, how about oatmeal or anything that you can add water too like Ramen (use Mrs. Dash instead of the flavor pouch to save on calories and salt) or Easy Mac.

        1. Wow guys- such great suggestions- bolletje- i am definatly going to try your barley recipe so thank you so much!!!! Please keep em comin!!!

          1. cool, I hope it works out for you... I should probably mention that you cook the barley for about 35 minutes and then drain it in a colander. :)

            1. Quinoa is inexpensive, healthy, keeps well and light. I make all kinds of salads with it and use it as I would rice or cous cous.
              I really like eggplant cold. Either grilled in a sandwich (pita is a great idea) or with salad.
              Trader Joes has Indian meals that are healthy and cheap. They say to heat in microwave, but I have had the eggplant and the chickpea ones cold/room temp and they are just as good.

              1. Ugh. I sympathize! I had the same problem at my old office (4 years there ...) but I did have access to hot water.

                I brought fruit, sandwiches (pb&j, pb&honey, cheese, tomato, avocado, humus, tofu, etc), salads of all sorts (potato, lettuce, rice, couscous), soup in a thermos. In the desk I kept luna/bumble bee bars, oatmeal packets, single-serve popcorn, pepper grinder, and the dried single-serve soup in a cup (fantastic is good).

                1. I second the hummus idea. My favourite lunch is a selection of cut veggies with a bit of dip (baba ganoush, hummus, tatziki - whatever!), a few olives, some cherry tomatoes, some nuts, and then grazing through them as lunch. If the dip is substantial, like a bean dip is, then you are full throughout the afternoon!

                  1. I'm on a diet that includes a mid-morning snack and a afternoon snack around 3:00pm. For morning I like an apple and a piece of string cheese. For afternoons I have been enjoying hummus spread on 3 Bistro crackers from Town House - get something whole grain and low carb. Wassa is good spread with peanut butter. I'm also having a clementine or a small bunch of grapes. Lunch is usually a salad. I put my homemade vinegarette in the bottom of the plastic contains, add onions, julienned piece of cheese, grape tomatos and then romain lettuce on top. The lettuce stays crisp. This week I added end pieces of turkey roll that are discounted at the supermarket deli. Hard boiled eggs are good if you remember to cook them. I've also taken frozen cooked shrimp and a separate container of cocktail sauce. The shrimp defrost by lunch time. I like to make soups on weekends to have during the week. Really watch out for dried soups that are high in sodium. Also, watch the fat and carb content of dressings or mayonnaise you use on sandwiches. A whole wheat wrap with roast beef, onions, pickles and tomatos can be juicy enough. I found a locally produced miso dressing that's good. BTW my husband is trying to stop eating so much ice cream. A half cup of vanilla yogurt is as high in carbs as ice cream but so good mixed with fresh sliced bananas or strawberries. But better if you like plain yogurt. I had to stop drinking orange juice on my diet and switch to fresh fruit. On a recent plane trip I got cranapple juice. BIG mistake, very high in carbs due to amount of high fructose corn syrup. Next time, water only!

                    1. There's a thread right now on onigiri (rice balls) that might fit the bill (5 mins prep time max, easy to munch at work, very filling and can be practically no-fat)


                      1. wow everyone- Thank you so much for all the wonderful ideas.... dfrostnh im going to take some of your ideas for sure! and adam im going to check that thread right now! :) Question- I always found hummus to be fattening because of the olive oil and thahini. Any low cal recipes??? Thanks and keep them coming please!!!! :)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gastronomy

                          If you make the hummus yourself in a food processor or blender you can control the amount of olive oil and tahini you add. Thin with warm water if needed. I like to add a lot of lemon, garlic, and cumin for flabor when I decrease the amount of olive oil and tahini.

                          1. re: gastronomy

                            I buy the Athenos brand and for 2 tbsp it only has 50 calories. That's not too bad!

                          2. Hummus is higher in fat, but it's good fat. Chichi beans (or garbonzo beans) are a higher in fat bean, but they're also good for you! I too am watching my weight, so I will take a tablespoon and put it in a container and have either some crackers or veggies. I find that is plenty, but it's for my snack, not a meal.

                            So, for other salad ideas, I thought of a really yummy black bean salad I tend to make in the summer. A can of black beans, a couple of tomatoes, a little avocado, scallions, cilantro if you want, and a squeeze of lime with s & p. It's really good and good for you too! You can also pack stuff and make a Wasa "sandwich." My favorite is just a Wasa with a little avocado on top, but you can add to that.

                            1. in the winter, an easy default lunch is a few pieces of ryevita (crackers), granny smith apples, and sharp cheddar (mustard if you like).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: JenMarie66

                                ooh, actually you just reminded me of my favorite cheese sandwich:
                                sharp cheddar, a good sharp grainy mustard, and a nice apple. Granny Smith, Gala, Pink Lady, anything really will do as long as it's fresh and sharp texture.

                              2. I was feeling a bit under the weather on Sun., so I caught up on some of my Tivo-ed shows. I thought this salad from Everyday Food looked great and simple: http://www.pbs.org/everydayfood/recip... You could even add some roasted chicken to it for some protein. Actually, Everyday Food has some great ideas for simple meals and lots of them would work for lunches.

                                I thought these Roast Beef and Cous cous rolls looked really good on Sara's Secrets... this was an episode on not your average brown bagged lunches, or something to that effect. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/r...

                                I make something similar to this, except my recipe doesn't have raisins, turmeric, or cinnamon in it. And I add carrots. You might want to lighten up on the mayo, since you are trying to be healthy. http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs...

                                These stromboli are super easy, and I fill them with whatever I have on hand. They are good at room temp. Not good, if you are low-carbing it though... if that's the case. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/r...

                                1 Reply
                                1. i made this salad yesterday, and it's great for bringing to work and tastes great.


                                  i used 1 oriental and 1 chicken ramen though and red wine vinegar instead of cider, no onion, no sunflower seeds and used almonds instead of peanuts. it's really really yummy.

                                  do not cook the noodles! a lot of people get confused on that part...