While a sandwich and an apple may be a standard go-to meal to pack for work lunches, a hot lunch will help you feel nourished and warmed -- a particularly nice benefit if your workplace tends to be chilly. Hot lunches can be cooked in large quantities, making them no more time-consuming than a cold lunch. Tailor your hot lunch to suit the physical demands of your job and the one-of-a-kind flavor preferences of your taste buds. Insulated containers help your food stay hot until lunchtime.
Soup provides a filling yet low-calorie lunch, especially if you are perpetually pressed for time and want a lunch you can sip while working. Explore flavorful soup options, such as a lentil curry soup or a Brazilian fish stew, or stick to a classic like chicken noodle. Purchase premade soups, or make your own on the stovetop or in a slow-cooker.
A bean-based meal at lunch can add protein to your diet, especially important if you do not consume meat. Beans offer the nutritional advantages of being high in protein and fiber while also being simple to prepare -- especially if you buy canned beans. Bean dishes that warm you up and power you through even the toughest work afternoon include black bean burritos with avocado slices and chipotle dressing, or black beans and rice.
Pasta lunches are carbohydrate-rich and comforting on chilly days. Make pasta dishes healthier by using whole-wheat pasta and small amounts of ultra-flavorful cheeses, and by measuring portion sizes carefully. Skip spaghetti, because the unruly noodles may splatter sauce on your work clothes. Instead, pack a container with macaroni and cheese with protein-packed chicken chunks, ravioli with onions and tomato sauce, or lasagna with low-fat ricotta and marinated vegetables instead of ground beef. Pack a green salad with a fat-free dressing to go with your hot lunch.
If you are a fan of chili cookoffs and Southwest cuisine -- or if you simply want a one-container lunch -- chili fits the bill. Make chili using a lean meat such as turkey or venison, with beans and veggies bulking up the chili and boosting its nutritional value. Make a big pot of mild chili at the beginning of the week and flavor it differently each day -- from smoky chipotle flavor to ultra-spicy to subtly Indian-inspired with cinnamon and honey.
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