Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad With Creamy Tahini Dressing<br />Photography by Jodi Pudge Credits: Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad With Creamy Tahini Dressing<br />Photography by Jodi Pudge
Liven up lunch again
We all need to eat it, but in the bustle of daily life, we're often unable to make lunch a high priority – and skipped meals, pre-packaged convenience food, or endless cycles of stand-by sandwiches become a common thing. Peanut butter and jelly are great, but even childhood favourites need an exciting side from time to time!
We asked Test Kitchen food specialist Amanda Barnier to share some of her secrets to preparing a quick lunch. Here's what she had to say:
On best lunch recipes: salads, soups and sandwiches
"You can assemble salads, and package the dressing separately to drizzle over just prior to eating," Amanda says. "The majority of lunch prep can be done the night before. Sandwich fillings are also easy to prepare, and can be assembled (ahead of time) if using lettuce between slices of bread to keep the bread from getting soggy."
"Cold soups are also great," she adds, "if you don't have access to a microwave. The old-fashioned thermos, too, is still reliable for a hot lunch."
Why brown-baggin' lunch is better for your health
"When you make your lunch, you know what's going into it," Amanda says. "You control the amount of salt, sugar and fat, and you can control your portion size and keep out preservatives."
How to make lunch a balanced meal
"Be sure to include all of the food groups, especially the fruits and vegetables," Amanda says. "They're very portable and make great dippers. Try veggies with hummus and baba ghanoush, or fruit with yogurt or nut butters."
Remember to pack lunch properly
"If you're packing along protein-rich foods such as cheeses, fish, hard-boiled eggs or meats, be certain to pack a small ice pack to ward off growing bacteria," she advises.
Prepping lunch for the whole family
For kids with finicky tastes, try making Extraterrestrial Tuna Sandwiches or Mediterranean Penne Pasta Salad, Amanda recommends.
To save time, "make enough for dinner the night before, to eat for lunch the next day," she adds. "Lunch is leftover friendly."
"Chopped vegetables can also be done a few days in advance, so you can prep a few days' worth of lunchbox worthy items ahead," she says. "Be sure to vary your lunches, too. Try to add something new every Friday. Keep Monday lunches simple, because those mornings always sneak up on us."
Find ideas for lunch from our list of 15 quick lunch recipes below. With a little prep and planning, you'll have lots of reasons to look forward to lunch every day!
Quick lunch recipes:
Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad With Creamy Tahini Dressing
The amount of water you need to cook quinoa varies, so check package instructions for best results. For a twist, top the salad with toasted slivered almonds.
Tuna and Canadian Monterey Jack Quesadillas
Serve these mild quesadillas with our tart Grapefruit Avocado Salad.
Creamy Cheddar Pasta Toss
Why buy cheese sauce when homemade is this quick? It's cheaper and tastier, too. Cooking the chicken a day ahead is truly a time-saver. Plus, it's ready in 15 minutes!
Page 1 of 2 - Find more quick lunch recipes on page 2!
More quick and easy lunch recipes:
Easy Sausage Parmesan Risotto
Many kids love rice, so this is a great lunch idea. Save some from dinner to reheat in the morning and pack in a vacuum bottle to keep warm.
Pea and Pepper Couscous
Made with sweet peppers, peas, green onions and almonds, this couscous recipe pairs well with a light main.
Egg Salad Hoagies
These sandwiches are layered with lettuce, alfalfa sprouts and a tasty egg salad.
Orange Ginger Chicken Sandwiches
Yum! Liven up your chicken sandwich with this tart orange and ginger marinade that are a hit with both kids and adults.
Linguine with Kale and Radicchio
This quick pasta bursts with flavour, thanks to bacon (or pancetta) sauteed in garlic and hot pepper flakes.
Italian Tuna Melt Panini
With marinated artichoke hearts and melty Provolone cheese, this panini is perfect for lunch!
Hearty Black Bean Soup
Hearty and delicious, this soup looks great with its dollop of sour cream on each serving. If you like, puree the soup before adding the coriander; just reserve about 1/4 cup of the whole beans to garnish each bowlful.
Waldorf Chicken Salad
Created in New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the 1890s, the original salad was simply apples, celery and mayonnaise. For a sandwich, stuff the chicken salad into pita pockets.
Roasted Balsamic Garlic Beef on a Bun
Garlicky beef paired with horseradish mustard makes an excellent sandwich. Prepare the beef a day ahead and assemble the sandwiches just before you go.
Easy Layered Lunch Salad
Packing salads in individual plastic containers or jars, means that you won't need to include serving plates. If you're not on the go, create the layers in a large, straight-sided glass serving bowl for colourful effect.
Fennel Watercress Salad with Apple Dressing
With a refreshing dressing that features apple and thyme, this salad takes on a novel, winning look. Of course, you can substitute your favourite apple variety for the tart kind, too. This salad makes a zesty appetizer course when you're entertaining.
Quick Homemade Tomato Soup
It is always good to have quick nutritious recipes on hand for last-minute lunch ideas. This takes only about 10 minutes to prepare and is a delicious way to enjoy tomatoes.
Page 2 of 2 - Learn great quick and easy lunch tips from our Test Kitchen experts on page 1!