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So I finally broke down and started making my lunch everyday for work, and I’ll only allow myself an exception once a week. I usually cash in my exception on Monday for red beans and rice at a cafeteria near work, and also cause it’s Monday and I don’t want to do anything.  I’ve decided to post five days of simple lunches that can be made the night before or the morning of work. These recipes are pretty cheap as well, so you can put that extra money you saved towards a fabulous night out, or if you’re like me you really want an awesome vitamix blender but have no way of attaining it in the near future.

1.) Tuna and White Bean Salad

For the salad portion:

  • One package of tuna (I usually get the olive oil packed)
  • One can of white beans drained and rinsed (great northern, navy, etc)
  • Chopped red onion to taste

For the dressing, I usually make my dressing in 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar (3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar…don’t do it the other way around, you’ll be quite upset)

  • Red Wine Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • Minced garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Combine salad and dressing portions separately, and then them both mix together. This recipes is fun to play with…you can make it more Mediterranean with the addition of capers. I’ve also thrown in some chopped up bacon in there as well. Throw in fresh parsley or put it over some arugula…this recipe is quite forgiving so edit as you please.

2.) Caprese Salad

  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 3-4 slices of FRESH mozzarella
  • 5-10 basil leaves (I grow my own)
  • balsamic vinegar (for drizzling)
  • extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
  • salt and pepper to taste

There’s variations on this recipe as well, if I have super fresh ingredients sometimes I just cover it with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and forget the balsamic. Sometimes I’ve mixed this recipe with a can of drained and rinsed white beans to make it a little more hardy.

3.) Sandwiches!

  • 2 slices of toasted bread
  • 3-4 slices of deli meat
  • cheese of your choice
  • Mixture of dijon mustard and mayo to taste

Do not underestimate the power of a tasty sandwich. My mom made them for me everyday for years, and then during high school and college I had a sandwich hiatus, and now I’m back! Just avoid the dreaded sandwich rut….throw in fresh herbs if you have any, tomato slices leftover from your caprese salad are a welcome addition, bacon is always welcome.  I’ve been known to make basil BLTs. Go crazy! Butter is also an awesome condiment, if you have time grill your sandwich!

4) Black Bean and Corn Salad

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste, usually 1/2 tsp each.
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder ( I usually add a pinch more)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8.75 ounce) can sweet corn, drained

Combine all the ingredients except the cilantro, corn, and beans. Combine beans and corn (optional cilantro) and then mix the dressing on top. This is a recipe I play around with a lot.  For example, sometimes I add a can of garbanzo beans.  Sometimes I attempt a taco salad and add chicken, salsa, and tortilla chips.  Other times I put it on some greens with guacamole as the dressing.  Feel free to put these in a tortilla with some cheese and throw it in the microwave to make quesadilla.  This salad is really just a basis to keep on playing with whatever ingredients you have on hand.

5.) Naan Pizza

  • Naan (I usually buy garlic naan), pita bread will work too
  • Whatever ingredients you like on pizza

I use my toaster oven for this recipe, so it’s pretty quick. I usually make the pizza, stick in the the toaster oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 F, and then go finish getting ready for work, and come back to the oven when it starts to smell good from the other side of my apartment. I usually use my leftover caprese salad ingredients, plus tomato sauce. I’ve done just garlic and olive oil plus cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and spinach. Tomato sauce with bell peppers and onions is good too.

For these recipes, I do all the chopping of the veggies I’m going to use the night before and then assemble whatever I’m making in the morning to save time.

What are some of your quick go-to, homemade lunches? What additions or subtractions do you have for the recipes I’ve included?