I have notebooks full of recipes, countless “inspiration” boards and magazine clippings, and cookbooks on my shelves. I make expansive brunches, colorful dinners, and even the occasional infused, fancy bitters for my cocktails. Still, when it comes to lunch during my work week, I eat the same thing almost every day because it’s easy, portable, and has become part of my routine. Once in a while, I’ll make a big batch of something yummy that one of my fellow dumplings posted, and spread that out over the week, but it is mostly the same spinach, rice, and tofu combination. After looking at my sad, boring lunch on one of the first days of Spring, I became determined to break out of my normal lunch time routine and came up with a few ways to beat the lunch time blues.
Lunch Swap with Friends/Coworkers
This was a relatively fun idea that one of my coworkers and I came up with. Twice a week (and following dietary restrictions), we each had to make a lunch that we would ultimately swap with each other during our lunch hour. At first, it was a bit weird to be trading lunches like we were back in grade school, but the weirdness was soon replaced with excitement! Many days, there were dishes that I would have never thought of making myself, or delicious leftovers from dinner. Try this with a friend or even a colleague like I did, to keep your meals interesting and new–you may even discover a new favorite dish or flavor profile.
Get Exciting Ingredients for “Lunch Only”
Have you ever been strolling through the market and either only pick up ingredients for dinner, or grab the “usual” produce? This is pretty much the only way I know how to shop nowadays! I’ve made it a point to try and find exciting, “to be used only for making lunch” ingredients such as fresh mizuna greens and white asparagus. These new ingredients make me excited to prepare lunch and guarantee at least one ingredient that varies from the normal routine.
Rediscover Forgotten Favorites
There was a brief period of time when I was obsessed with fresh cucumber and tomato salads with quinoa and dill. I eventually grew tired of this mix after eating it almost every day- you can see my lunch time patterns :P- but recently rediscovered this old favorite! Pick a few dishes that you haven’t made in a while, whip up a batch of it for the week, and- voila- lunch!
Make it Simple & Prepare for the Week
I tend to go with the same lunches because they are simple, quick to prepare in the morning, and easy enough to throw in my purse. There are plenty of meals out there that are simple and have five ingredients or less- I just had to do a little digging to find them. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like making a brand new meal every single day, so I try to make enough to get me through two or three lunches. Some of my new favorite “anti lunch rut” meals to make for the week are Dylan’s Vegan Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese, Samantha’s Vegan Coleslaw (with some edamame on the side!), and Juhea’s Vegan Pasta with Broccoli and Chickpeas. Not only are these flavorful and filling, but super easy to make big batches of for lunches.
What are some of your favorite lunch recipes, dumplings? How do you keep from lunchtime boredom?
Also by Karina: What is a Fiddlehead? Plus Sauteed Fiddleheads Recipe
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Photo: Sakurako Kitsa via Flickr; Karina Alexander