Real People Share The Quick Weekday Lunches They’re Making At Home

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
It can be hard to stop everything in the middle of your day to cook up an elaborate lunch and sit down to eat it with absolutely no distractions. That's why it's important to have quick lunch ideas in your back pocket for busy days when your mid-day energy is simply lacking.
Back when many of us were going into an office every day, we'd often opt for a lunch that could be easily thrown together in the communal kitchen on days when we didn't have time to run out to a nearby restaurant or when we neglected meal-prep the weekend before. Those same go-to quick lunches can be trotted in our home kitchens in-between Zoom meetings and homeschool supervision duties. Just ask the real people who shared their go-to quick lunch below. You can try out their easy lunch recipes while working from home and even keep some of them in your rotation when you finally go back into an office.
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Avocado Toast

Name: Lizzy
Age: 24

What ingredients do you need?
Half an avocado, two pieces of toast, salt, pepper, garlic powder (the best part), and whatever toppings you have on hand like eggs or sliced tomatoes.

How do you make it?
First, I put the toast in the toaster — I rotate between whole grain bread and rye bread — and then mash up the avocado in a bowl, adding in the seasonings. That's literally it. Once the toast is done, I add the avocado plus whatever I decide I want on top. Sometimes it's nothing, sometimes it's tomatoes, and sometimes, if I have extra time, I'll cook an egg or two to go on top. I'll check out whatever is in my fridge — I'm quarantining with my parents and my mom likes to make the shopping trips to get out of the house, so I either just look through what she gets or make requests.

How did you come up with this quick lunch and why do you like it?
I am a very lazy person, so this is legit the easiest, quickest, and healthiest thing I can come up with that also tastes good. I eat it every day, in different ways. Also, I'm obsessed with avocado toast anyway, and I don't usually get to enjoy it when I commute for work because I don't eat breakfast, so now that I'm working from home I can make it more.
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Canned Tuna Or Chicken Breast With Whole Wheat Noodles

Name: Vanessa
Age: 36

What ingredients do you need?
Canned tuna or chicken breast, noodles of choice, fixins for your tuna/chicken

How do you make it?
Boil noodles (can be prepped the night before), prep tuna or chicken breast, put together, enjoy!

How did you come up with this quick lunch and why do you like it?
I used to eat tuna and egg noodles as a kid — my mom was a pro at quick easy lunches!
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Pizza Salad

Name: Marissa
Age: 40

What ingredients do you need?
One frozen cauliflower crust pizza, fresh spinach leaves, garlic cloves, balsamic vinegar

How do you make it?
Throw a few handfuls of fresh spinach on top of the frozen pizza, add the garlic cloves, and put it in the oven. Finish with a swirl of balsamic vinegar once it's done.

How did you come up with this quick lunch and why do you like it?
I'm all about comfort food the past few weeks so I've taken to dumping salads on top of all sorts of carbs. Sometimes the carbs get added to the salad but that's when I'm feeling more traditional.
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PB&J Tortilla

Name: Amy
Age: 45

What ingredients do you need?
Flour tortilla, peanut butter, jelly

How do you make it?
Take a flour tortilla, spread one line of peanut butter (I usually do it about an inch thick) and a line of jelly on top (I prefer homemade jam). Roll like a burrito, then eat.

How did you come up with this quick lunch and why do you like it?
PB&J on a tortilla is something I made in my childhood. Growing up in SoCal, we always had tortillas in the house to make burritos and grilled quesadillas. I don't quite remember the exact origin of the PB&J on a tortilla but I have a feeling it had to do with being out of sandwich bread and giving it a whirl. Or someone saying "it will taste good, try it." I remember making them as early as age 5 or 6? My mom made sure we were self-sufficient in the kitchen at an early age. I also learned how to make guacamole when I was in kindergarten.
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Braised Greens & Poached Egg

Name: Michael
Age: 33

What ingredients do you need to make your go-to quick lunch?
Required: greens like chard, kale, or spinach and eggs. Nice to have: a little bit of an aromatic element like garlic, onion, or shallot

How do you make it?
1. Boil pot of water. 2. Sweat the aromatics in extra virgin olive oil on medium-high (add chili flakes here if you like). 3. Add greens to aromatics, stir until wilted and as soft as you like, reduce heat to low. 4. Poach an egg or two. 5. Plate greens, put egg(s) on top, and finish with salt and pepper, hot sauce, Calabrian chili, or whatever you've got.

How did you discover this quick lunch and why do you like it?
It's from Carla Lalli Music's cookbook, Where Cooking Begins. It's quick, warm, healthy, all from fresh ingredients, and can be modified based on whatever is in your fridge and pantry.
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Arugula Salad

Name: Eliza
Age: 24

What ingredients do you need?
Arugula, cherry tomatoes, some type of cheese (halloumi, parmesan Reggiano), lemon, olive oil, toasted pine nuts (or Marcona almonds, sunflower seeds, pistachios — whatever you have), and brown rice if you want something a little heavier. I usually add red chili flakes and a little sea salt.

How do you make it?
Just toss it all together. I toast the pine nuts and if I use halloumi, I'll crisp it up on the stove. Quarter lemon for the salad and then eyeball the olive oil. It doesn't take more than 5-7 minutes typically.

How did you come up with this quick lunch and why do you like it?
This recipe started as a copycat from a restaurant in Chicago, but I've changed it up a lot over the years. I've had it almost every day for years now. It's easy and good, and you can really play with it.
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Shin Ramyun

Name: Brendan
Age: 33

What ingredients do you need?
Pack of Shin Ramyun, a Korean instant ramen. I somethings throw a soft-boiled egg in it but otherwise, I eat it as the packaging suggests.

How do you make it? 
Pour water to the line, throw it in the microwave for 3 minutes, let stand for a few (or risk burning the shit out of your tongue), and then eat.

How did you discover this quick lunch and why do you like it?
College — I was broke as hell but not so broke that I had to buy the dollar ramen. Shin Ramyun is a bit more expensive (like 2.50 a bowl) and tastes so much better. I like it because it packs a spicy punch and is filling. Once I got out of college, I still continued to stock it in my pantry because it's easy, tasty, and cheap.
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Triscuits & Tuna Salad

Name: Hannah
Age: 27

What ingredients do you need?
Triscuits (I prefer the thin triangle crisps, but dealers choice), canned tuna, mayo, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper

How do you make it? 
Mix it up the tuna, mayo, and spices in a bowl and grab a handful or two of Triscuits on the side.

How did you come up with this quick lunch and why do you like it?
I wanted to make a tuna sandwich one day but didn't have any bread so I reached for Triscuits instead and it was honestly perfect. I wasn't allowed to have Lunchables as a kid and this makes me feel like I'm eating a grown-up version of it. It's also super fast and mostly non-perishable so it feels great for these times when I want to avoid the grocery store.
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Naan Pizza

Name: Ridah
Age: 30

What ingredients do you need?
1-2 naan (Stonefire Minis!), 2 tbsp ricotta, diced tomatoes (fresh or canned), basil, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 egg (optional), garlic powder/Italian seasoning to taste

How do you make it? 
Put a naan on a buttered/oiled pan. Spread ricotta on top of naan. Add olive oil to diced tomatoes and basil. Spread on top of the ricotta. Sprinkle garlic powder (or your favorite Italian seasoning) on top. To up the protein, add an egg on top of the naan and bake the naan for 15 minutes until egg is cooked to your liking.

How did you come up with this quick lunch and why do you like it?
My Instacart grocer replaced my request for tortillas with mini naan, but it was a happy accident because I got to experiment with something new. I love this lunch because it's fresh and flavorful and gives you a "fancy" feeling in between Zoom calls. The best part is how quick and easy it is to make!
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Egg & Cheese

Name: Natasha
Age: 27

What ingredients do you need?
2 eggs, pepper jack cheese, kaiser roll, RedHot sauce

How do you make it? 
I make an omelet with the pepper jack cheese and drizzle some red hot over it. Then sandwich it between a toasted kaiser roll.

How did you come up with this quick lunch and why do you like it?
I miss bodega egg & cheeses so this is my compromise!

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