Quick and easy lunch ideas will fill your belly and fuel your brain

Lindsey Flanagan, Editor

Lunch is something that many students both equally hate and love regarding online school. It’s so easy to grab a granola bar or maybe a banana from the kitchen before a class but it’s also not as fun not eating lunch with friends in person. It’s also really easy to have a really fast lunch or no lunch at all before joining an online game during those hour-long lunches or maybe to catching up on some homework.

However, eating lunch during the day is extremely important, especially during online school.

According to an article at provitamil.com, “If you go too long without eating you begin to get very hungry and all you can think about is food and your next meal. This leads to deterioration in your performance at work.” Without lunch to keep students energized throughout the day, it becomes much easier to zone out and lose focus in class.

So in order to help students stay motivated throughout the day, here are five easy and healthy lunch ideas you can make at home. Either way, there are so many fun and easy lunch recipes to try and having lunch at home is a great opportunity to try them. Don’t forget to add a fruit or veggie to your meal, too!

Cheese Quesadillas

This recipe is a very popular one and is so easy to change and add things to. There are several varieties of tortillas to use, corn and flour tortillas being the most common. From there you can choose the kind of cheese. Mozzarella, cheddar, colby jack, etc there are many out there. Typically, quesadilla cheese is grated, so grate that before or while heating the tortilla. (And if you have dietary restrictions, like lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance, it’s very easy to choose other options to fit these needs.)

To actually make the quesadillas, a cast-iron skillet to heat up the tortillas is usually quickest but there are so many different ways. From there, add your cheese to your heated tortilla and wait for it to melt. This is also a great time to add extras, like maybe grilled chicken, beans, or taco meat. This way you can add extra nutrients like protein.

Then add the second tortilla, and finish cooking until the cheese is melted. Then add more of your favorites, like maybe some sour cream, salsa, guacamole. This recipe is so quick and easy and fun to add more extras to, so you could make it different every time.

Instructions

  1. Get your preferred ingredients (minimum tortillas and cheese)
  2. Cook 2 tortillas until golden brown on a cast iron skillet or other heater
  3. Add about 1 cup to 1 ½ cups of grated cheese to one tortilla and other optional ingredients and cook
  4. Add second tortilla and cook until cheese is melted
  5. Add extras or toppings

 

5 Minute Fried Rice

Fried rice is a quick and delicious way to add lots of things from your kitchen into a really simple meal! Making it sounds hard, but it’s super easy to make and the only things you really need are heat, rice, and oil. To cook this in, a skillet or wok is best to get a good mix on your rice and veggies

Any type of oil works, but sesame or olive oil are often the most recommended. And for rice, white rice is most common but if you’re looking for something healthier, whole grain rice is a great option. Finally, add your soy sauce for that tangy flavor. Chop up some carrots, celery, peppers, or broccoli for extra vegetables. Scramble some eggs, add chicken or mu shu pork for some proteins as well or tofu for a vegan option. It’s really easy to change up this recipe to fit your dietary needs or whatever you happen to be craving.

Ingredients (this makes 2 servings, so feel free to make it with half of the ingredients)

1 ½  tbsp. Sesame or canola oil, divided

1.5 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

Kosher salt

2 cups cooked rice

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 ½ cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions sliced and separated

3/4 cup frozen carrots or diced fresh

3/4 cup frozen peas

2 eggs scrambled, cooked and chopped

1 cup chopped cooked chicken, pork or shrimp (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a wok or nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add in garlic, ginger and the white portion of the green onions. Cook until fragrant.
  3.  Add carrots & peas, and other preferred veggies cook until heated and softened.
  4. Add rice (and protein if using) and continue to cook until the rice is lightly crisped and brown. Don’t stir too much, you do want to get a little bit of caramelization.
  5. Add in cooked egg, soy sauce & sesame oil. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired

Pasta Salad

This recipe is a great way to get lots of veggies and proteins into your diet. This can be similar to traditional salad, typically used with lettuce, but with pasta. Depending on how much you want to make determines how much pasta you make. For one person, it’s typically recommended to have about 2-3 cups of pasta.

And the kind of pasta,so you really can’t go wrong. Bow-ties, noodles, macaroni, etc. are all great options.  From there, the rest is up to you. Veggies are a must, and carrots, cucumbers, peppers, chickpeas, peas, tomatoes, and more are great ideas. And of course protein, with grilled chicken, sausage, or even bacon. Finish off with some grated cheese of your choice and a preferred dressing and you have an easy pasta salad.

Ingredients (feel free to add or take away any of these to make it your own)

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked pasta

1 (16 ounce) bottle of any salad dressing

2 cucumbers, chopped

6 small tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  2. Place pasta in the pot, cook for 8 to 12 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the Italian dressing, cucumbers, tomatoes, and green onions.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning, and gently mix into the salad.
  5. Cover, and refrigerate until serving.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

This recipe is a classic fall favorite, and one that’s not only easy but perfect for those colder winter days. It may seem complicated, but it’s simplicity is what gives it the appeal.

For the grilled cheese, the options are endless. You can vary the kind of bread, from wheat bread to white, to italian, maybe even make it on a bagel. Then just choose your cheese. Cheddar is typically used, but mozzarella or colby jack are also delicious options.

 Ingredients

2 slices of bread (any kind)

1 tablespoon of mayonnaise

2 ounces of cheddar cheese or American cheese

1 can of tomato soup

Instructions

  1. Preheat a small skillet over low heat.
  2. Spread mayonnaise over one side of each piece of bread and place mayonnaise side down in the skillet.
  3. Top with cheddar cheese slices, black pepper to taste and remaining slice of bread, mayonnaise side out.
  4. Grill until golden, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Flip and grill the other side until golden.
  6. Meanwhile, open a 14.5 ounce can of tomato soup.
  7. Pour into a pan.  Turn stove on medium heat.
  8. Stir occasionally until heated to a desired temperature.

Pizza Bagels

Pizza Bagels are a really easy lunch idea that requires little to no effort and you can vary it up as you like. First, choose the bagel you most prefer. If you’re looking for a more filling lunch, try doing a full size bagel or if you just want a small snack, mini bagels are great for that.

Next, you’ll want to add your pizza sauce. You can use marinara sauce or if you have another preferred kind, definitely use that or even forget sauce altogether and start straight on cheese. Next, similar to the cheese quesadilla recipe, choose the cheese you like. Mozzarella, cheddar, or any dairy-free cheeses are great for this recipe. Make sure it’s grated as well, so it goes on evenly. Finally, toppings. This is a great way to add to your bagel pizza, with maybe some olives, pepperoni, sausage, peppers, or pineapple.

Any way you make it, pizza bagels are great for lunch or a snack, super easy, and always a favorite, so it’s something you can make for your siblings or friends too.

Ingredients

2 bagels, sliced in half

¼ cup pizza sauce

¾ cup shredded cheese (any kind)

Sliced pepperoni, chopped bell pepper, sliced mushrooms or cooked sausage, if desired for toppings.

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425°F.
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon pizza sauce over each bagel half.
  3. Sprinkle each with cheese and desired topping.
  4. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

 

*Bonus* Mixed Berry and Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt

⅓ cup fresh or frozen mixed berries

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons granola

Fill a small bowl with yogurt.  Top with berries and granola. Drizzle with maple syrup.  Enjoy!