Eating healthy hot lunches isn’t always an easy task, especially when you’re on the go or packing lunches for work. But enjoying a warm, home-cooked lunch on a cold winter’s day is a comforting reward that makes the preparation worth it. Plus, nutritious, healthy meals benefit more than just your waistline; your wallet will also thank you for skipping expensive takeout lunches each day.
If you have access to a microwave at work, that’s great, but it’s not necessary. These days, you can find plenty of great insulated lunch boxes and bowl-shaped thermoses that will keep your lunch warm for hours; just heat it up at home and pack it right before you leave for work. Here are some great, healthy hot lunches you can prepare the night before.
1. White Chicken Chili
What better way to warm up during cold months — and keep your waistline slim and trim — than packing Allrecipes’ heart-healthy easy white chicken chili in your insulated lunch container for work? At just over 460 calories per serving, this delicious, nutrient-packed chili recipe contains chicken, broth, white beans, olive oil, cheese and a variety of seasonings that’ll make your mouth water.
2. Quinoa and Shrimp Grits
This southern-style quinoa and shrimp grits recipe from Daily Burn is just what the doctor ordered when you need a hot, healthy lunch that’ll stick with you. Protein-rich shrimp, fiber-packed quinoa, cheese, Greek yogurt, oil, Swiss chard and Cajun seasonings are on the ingredient list. This tasty treat contains 409 calories per serving, and it will warm you up from the inside out.
3. Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Allrecipes strikes again with this slow cooker beef stew recipe, which is a must for chilly days and provides you with the perfect blend of flavor, lean protein and comfort. With just 516 calories per serving, this dish requires only 20 minutes of active prep time. Just put your veggies, broth, meat and seasonings into your slow cooker, then sit back and let the magic happen. If you start it when you get home from work, you’ll have a hot, delicious-smelling meal that’s ready to pack up when you leave the next morning.
4. Salmon and Almond Orzo
This heart-healthy salmon scallopini with almond orzo recipe from Health.com contains just six ingredients — salmon, orzo, butter, almonds, lemon juice and capers — and only has 369 calories per serving. The dish is packed with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and your coworkers are bound to ask which restaurant you went to last night when they smell it heating up.
5. Tofu and Broccoli Stir-Fry
If you’re following a vegetarian meal plan, try EatingWell’s nutritious tofu and broccoli stir-fry recipe for your next hot lunch. The dish is loaded with flavor, it’s heart-healthy, and it has just 257 calories per serving. Tofu, broccoli, oil and seasonings are on the ingredient list. Pair your tofu and broccoli stir-fry with soba noodles or jasmine rice to complete the dish.
When the weather starts turning cool, packing healthy hot lunches for work can save you time and money. Plus, after eating a warm, home-cooked meal at work, you’ll feeling comforted, sated and ready for whatever the afternoon has in store.