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11 smart, healthy lunch ideas from Well+Good Readers


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Welcome to our every-so-often series of questions to discover how you, our readers, live a super interesting, healthy life. We totally invite you to dish on your habits, preferences, and know-how in the Comments, and we may even use our favorite ones in an up-coming article!

This week we asked: What’s your go-to healthy lunch to bring to work?

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut making the same salad or sandwich week after week (or to rely on running out to Sweetgreen or the like, which gets pretty expensive on the daily).

But when it comes to BYO lunches, Well+Good readers prove how are smart and creative they are. Here are 11 brilliant reader ideas to inspire you and help elevate your brown-bag game:

1. Mason jar salads. “It’s quick and simple to prepare. I add layers of chopped/sliced veggies atop a tablespoon or two of dressing at the bottom of the jar. I usually add lettuce or kale or green salad mix at the very top and finish off with pepper, mix of raw seeds, or nuts.” —Adriana

“Start with beans and dressing (garlic olive oil and some apple cider vinegar), then layer some broccoli slaw and/or tomato, then I add the greens (I like to switch it up between organic spring mix and kale), and top it off with crunchy nuts and craisins.” —Jacquelyn

2. BBQ tempeh salad. “Start with a bed of your favorite greens. Cut 3-4 sweet potatoes into cubes and toss with cumin, chipotle powder, cayenne and garlic. Slice tempeh into ¼-inch pieces and toss in your favorite BBQ sauce (I LOVE Annie’s Smoky Maple). Bake for about 15 minutes. Assemble the salad by adding some avocado and carrots or any other favorite veggies. I usually top with Cindy’s Kitchen Avocado Vinaigrette.”  —Natalie

3. Simple meat and veggies. “I always cook a ton of protein in the beginning of the week—chicken sausage, hamburger patties, or turkey meatballs are common—and throw it on top of kale and any veggies I have. My office has a fridge where I leave my dressing, and voila! Easy meal to pack in the morning and transport, super filling and only takes 30 minutes of prep on Sundays to be set for the week!” —LB

4. Salmon-avo-brown rice bowl. “I cook 3 pounds [of salmon] on Sunday for the week, with some brown rice, add some sesame seeds, a little teriyaki sauce, and grab a fresh avocado from the fruit stand before I head into the subway to work.” —Ani

5. Veggie bowl. “I roast a bunch of vegetables on Sunday—carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, cauliflower—and then throw a bunch over fresh spinach and a scoop of quinoa every day. Add some tahini or hot sauce and you’re set!” —Betsy

6. Tofu scramble. “I throw in whatever veggies I have on hand (broccoli, peas, spinach and capsicum are favourites) with a block of tofu and some salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric and sriracha. Super easy, super filling, super healthy!” —Kelsey

7. Quinoa bowls. “Today I had: quinoa, a can of chickpeas, chopped and blanched broccoli, peas and crushed walnuts and seeds, mixed with a little olive oil, cracked black pepper and Tabasco. For tomorrow I have prepped: quinoa, green lentils, blanched green beans, broad beans, peas and crushed walnuts and seeds, mixed with olive oil, black pepper and Tabasco.” —Jo

8. Superfood bowl.
“1 large handful greens (spinach, arugula, chopped kale or chard)
1 cup chopped veggies, raw or steamed/sautéed/roasted (whatever’s in season)
1/2 cup grains like quinoa, brown rice, or millet (optional, add more veggies if not)
1/2 cup protein like chickpeas, adzuki beans or an organic egg (add more veggies, nuts/seeds if not)
1/4 avocado, chopped
1-2 tbsp sauerkraut
1 Tbsp tahini
1/2-1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1-2 Tbsp mix of nuts/seeds (I love hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds)
lemon zest to taste
spices to taste (sea salt, pepper, ground turmeric, seasonal herbs)
simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar or coconut aminos, lemon juice, and sometimes mustard
Every once in a while I’ll spice it up with things like homemade pesto or fresh berries, or turn it into a stir-fry of sorts.”
—Sasha Nelson

9. Veggie noodles. “I love pasta, but I do find that the more carbs I eat during lunch time makes it hard to sit through any afternoon meetings. My go-to lunch is vegetable noodles. I then incorporate some of my favorite sauteed veggies whether it is asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, peppers, etc. I stir it all in pesto sauce, and add either salmon or chicken as a protein.”—Alex

10. Homemade burrito bowl. “Chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, organic brown rice, chicken and sliced avocado with a squeezed lime over the top.” —Karli

11. Frittata. “With sweet potatoes, roasted veg, leafy greens and some other type of protein– often leftover chicken, roasted from Sunday lunch. I bake this in the oven and when cool, slice into portions and bring to work in a lunch box with a side salad.” —Katie