3 DIY Lunches That Are Better Than Anything You Can Order In

On the totem pole of nighttime rituals, planning our lunches ranks on the low end. Just making a homemade dinner can be a feat in itself, so prepping another meal after that is asking a whole lot. But, come 1 p.m. the next day — as we're scrolling Seamless yet again — we suddenly wish we'd put in the effort after all.
What we all need is an arsenal of quick recipes that taste gourmet and last longer than takeout. So, we asked recipe whiz Ali Nardi to think outside the lunch pail and create three very simple and fantastic meals that aren't just another ol' sandwich. From a veggie frittata to a creamy carrot soup to spicy soba noodles, there's no sogginess here — only triple-threat lunch perfection that'll make your wallet very happy, too.
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
Carrot Soup with Thyme & Ginger
Servings: about 6 cups. (This soup lasts up to three days in the fridge and up to one month when frozen in individual portions.)

Prep Time
35 minutes
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs carrots, scrubbed and diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 piece of ginger, about 2 inches long, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
10 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 qt low sodium vegetable stock, plus more
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
1. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat, and add oil. Add carrots and onion, and cook for seven to eight minutes or until onions are translucent and carrots begin to soften. Stir frequently.

2. Add garlic, ginger, and thyme, and cook another three minutes, continuing to stir frequently.
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
3. Add vegetable stock, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until carrots are very tender. Remove from heat, and discard thyme sprigs.

4. Allow soup to cool slightly and place small batches into a blender. Adjust seasoning, and add extra stock for a thinner soup.
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
Fritatta With Broccoli, Leeks & Feta
Servings: 4. (This dish freezes well in individual portions and can be portioned out for four lunches, lasting in the fridge up to one week.)

Prep Time
25 to 30 minutes
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (white parts only)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 eggs
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
1. Preheat broiler, and heat a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add oil and butter.

2. Add leeks, broccoli, salt, and pepper. Cook five minutes, stirring occasionally or until leeks and broccoli are almost cooked, then add garlic. Cook two more minutes.

3. While veggies are cooking, beat eggs until uniform in color and add half the feta cheese.

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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
4. Once veggies are done, distribute them evenly in the skillet, and pour the egg mixture on top. Cook four to five minutes, until the rim of the edges are set.

5. Sprinkle remaning feta cheese on top and add more black pepper if desired. Move skillet to broiler, and cook for another three to four minutes, or until top is set and brown in spots.

6. Use a plastic spatula to slide fritatta out of pan. Cut into four pieces and enjoy.
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
Cold Soba Noodle Salad
Servings: 4 to 5

Prep Time
20 minutes
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
Ingredients For Dressing
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 bell peppers thinly sliced
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Photographed by Andrew B Myers.
Ingredients For Salad
1 9.5 oz package buckwheat soba noodles
2 tsp vegetable oil, or other neutral tasting oil
2 bell peppers
1 1/2 cup string beans, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 scallions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cilantro
1/3 cup chopped peanuts
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1. For dressing, combine all ingredients and put aside.

2. Cook noodles following package instructions, and run under cold water until cool.

3. Place in bowl and coat with two teaspoons oil.

4. Add vegetables to noodles. Serve cold or at room temp and dress right before serving.

* If saving some for lunch, keep the noodles and veggies separate from dressing, and only prep what you plan to eat.
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