What to CookLunch

Quickie Lunches That Will Make Your Co-Workers Jealous

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What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.


While your morning self might be happy to throw together some turkey, mayo and lettuce in order to make it out the door in time, your lunchtime self might not be as thrilled with a sad, soggy sandwich. Of course, you could carve out time to prep make-ahead lunches for the week, but sometimes you just don’t have the energy to dice two pounds of chicken breasts on Sunday night. If you’re looking for an alternate solution, consider one of these (actually quite good) lunches, each of which is packable the morning-of in just five minutes. Here’s how a few folks on the Food52 team do it:

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Doesn't look like a 5-min lunch, right?
Doesn't look like a 5-min lunch, right? Photo by Julia Gartland

Say what you will about soaking your own, but I love canned beans with just about anything. I’ll open, drain, and rinse my can of black beans, white beans, or chickpeas at home, then toss them into a container with whatever else I have handy to mix in—fruits, canned fish, cheese, spices. It’s an easy, filling salad that only takes a few minutes to pack. Here's a favorite version with white beans, cucumbers, and sumac.

Another go-to is to "bake" a sweet potato in my office microwave. I just throw one in my bag, then when it's lunch time, poke the potato with a fork (five times on each side) before microwaving for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. My favorite topping is a combination of goat cheese and chives, but I'm happy to slather on sour cream, pesto, bacon, feta, tahini (I can keep going...) —Katie Macdonald, Assistant Editor


When I'm craving something bright and fresh for lunch, but only have a few minutes to pack it, my go-to is a quick and easy greek salad. I chop up some red onion and a Persian cucumber, and put it in a lunch container. I add a handful of cherry tomatoes and feta cheese, as well as a generous drizzle of olive oil, and then finish it with a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. By lunchtime, I have a perfectly juicy and fresh salad that only took a couple minutes (and ingredients) to prepare. —Megan Güntas, Digital Designer

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Lunches That Pack in 5 Minutes (or Less)

Lunches That Pack in 5 Minutes (or Less) by Marian Bull

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Amanda Hesser's Tips for Making Better Kids' Lunches

Amanda Hesser's Tips for Making Better Kids' Lunches by Amanda Sims

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8 Ideas for Back-to-School (or -Work) Lunches

8 Ideas for Back-to-School (or -Work) Lunches by Hollis Miller

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12 Ways to Have Better Lunches in 2016 (Even if You Only Have 5 Minutes)

12 Ways to Have Better Lunches in 2016 (Even if You Only ... by Leslie Stephens

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The fastest, most delicious sandwich I'll pack is pesto with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes on toasted ciabatta, plus a dash of olive oil (and optional leafy green like arugula or romaine). I “discovered” this sandwich at Bite in Soho, where I used to work. I always liked it but never realized it would be a great addition to the lunches I make for my daughters each morning. (After loving the original, Lily approved of its addition to the rotation.) The key to its success is the heartiness of the toasted bread, which helps avoid sogginess when it's eaten a couple of hours later. I like to flatten the sandwich before wrapping it tightly in tinfoil. —Lucas Monaco, Full Stack Developer


Sometimes, if I can’t deal with yet another day of avocado toast, I’ll set myself up for assemble-at-work scrambled egg tacos. First I’ll fry-scramble an egg. (This sounds fussy but it’s super quick: You crack the egg in a very hot pan, then push it around with some salt and pepper until the whites set.) That goes in a Tupperware. Then, tortillas, a can of black beans, and any toppings I have on hand—jalapeño, cilantro, cotija cheese or jack cheese, on a full-fridge day—go in a big Ziploc bag (I wrap the cheese first). Voila! Breakfast tacos for lunch. All you need is a packet of hot sauce.

My other one-minute-fried-egg lunch trick is even easier: polenta with greens and a fried egg. I'll add the egg to the bottom of a Tupperware, followed by pre-softened polenta from one of those tubes, and finally way more greens (I usually go with baby spinach) than you think you need, because they shrink in the microwave.—Cory Baldwin, Director of Partner Content

How to Pack a Waste-Free Lunch

How to Pack a Waste-Free Lunch by Leslie Stephens

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5 Ways to Up Your Lunch Game This Year

5 Ways to Up Your Lunch Game This Year by Leslie Stephens

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13 Greatest Hits from Amanda's Kids' Lunches

13 Greatest Hits from Amanda's Kids' Lunches by Caroline Lange

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Your Best Lunch Advice

Your Best Lunch Advice by Elana Carlson

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What's your best 5-minute lunch? Share your packing tips in the comments.

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Tips & Techniques, Not Sad Desk Lunch