Lunch is a very important meal, especially when it has to power you through the rest of the working day. Cold lunches can seem simple and quick, but they just don’t give you the warmth and energy that a great hot lunch will.
You might worry that you won’t have the time to make a hot lunch for yourself, though, but that’s not the case!
In our handy guide below, we’ve rounded up some of the best and easiest hot lunch ideas (see also ‘33 Tasty And Quick Cold Lunch Ideas‘) that are quick and simple to prepare. With 27 delicious picks to choose from, your lunchtimes will soon be transformed!
1. Chicken Fried Rice
Taking just 25 minutes, this is a quick and delicious hot lunch – not to mention filling too!
Though the recipe recommends cooking rice and leaving it to dry, you can easily use ready-made rice instead to save extra time.
After that, it’s simply a case of preparing the delicious vegetables and other ingredients, as well as cooking your chicken. For extra flavor, be sure to marinate the meat.
There are few meals warmer than a delicious chili, and that’s partly down to the amount of spiciness that they offer.
This particular recipe is for a Texas Roadhouse Chili, which has a real kick to it, as well as being healthy.
Containing tomatoes, kidney beans, and plenty of other ingredients, this is packed. You can even add a veggie broth for extra goodness!
On top of that, you can add plenty of toppings – anything from cheese to sliced avocado.
3. Turkey Burgers
You may always go for beef burgers, but it would be a mistake to miss this tasty alternative. On top of that, they’re much healthier, full of essential vitamins and minerals that you wouldn’t normally get!
As for making them, they’re quick and easy.
Simply mix together your patties using the recipe (including delicious extras like egg and garlic, to give it extra flavor textures), cook thoroughly, and serve with your bun!
Of course, no burger is complete without toppings – and that’s where you can really customize your hot lunch. Add whatever you please to the burger, because the tastier the better!
4. Chicken Fajitas
This is similar to turkey burgers, in that you’re wrapping a delicious meat inside some tasty bread – and accompanying it with some healthy vegetables. It’s a wonderfully quick meal that’s sure to brighten up your lunchtimes.
Even better, it involves very few ingredients! All you’ll need is some chicken, onion, a bell pepper, spices, and some lime juice.
Add to that the deliciously firm tortilla bread and your favorite toppings, and you’ve got a meal you’ll be coming back to again and again.
5. Loaded Nachos
Ready in just 40 minutes, “loaded” nachos are nachos which have been absolutely covered with all kinds of delicious toppings.
This will be using a different type of tortilla to the Chicken Fajitas, instead using their crispier cousin, tortilla chips.
Besides that, this meal is filled with onion, chorizo, black beans, cheese, lettuce, salsa, and so much more.
6. Lentil Soup
This creamy and hearty soup is sure to warm you up at lunchtimes, as well as providing you with plenty of healthiness and nutrition!
The soup is balanced to be supremely good for you, offering up plenty of iron, protein, fiber, and more.
Since it’s a soup, you can bet it’s easy to make! While there may be a lot of ingredients to it, everything from vegetable broth to carrots, they’re all easy to prepare and add.
In just 55 minutes, you’ll have a wholesome and warm soup to shout about.
7. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
This is as simple as a lunch comes, yet full of gooey delight and warmth.
All you’ll need, as you might have guessed, are three ingredients: bread, cheese, butter. When it comes to the bread, the thicker the better.
You might want to go for a Texas toast (thicker sliced bread) or some challah, buttering each slice generously.
As for the cheese, you’ll want a blend – this recipe recommends a mix of medium cheddar, Havarti, and gouda.
8. Pasta E Fagioli Soup
This is another soup that is easy to make, yet filled to bursting with hearty goodness and flavor. Its name is Italian for “pasta and beans”, and that’s the key ingredient for the delicious lunchtime meal!
There may be a lot of ingredients again, but they’re all easy to mix together, and will ensure that you’re getting a brilliantly balanced blend of healthiness and taste.
Vegetables like carrots and celery provide goodness, while chicken broth and pancetta provide a meatier edge.
9. Apple, Bacon, And Cheddar Panini
Another perfect sandwich, this uses deliciously thick and crisp panini bread to give you a real crunch. Better yet, it’ll take just 14 minutes to make!
The ingredients are minimal, yet the flavor is massive. All you’ll need is your panini bread, some Cheddar cheese, sliced apple, and a few slices of cooked bacon. Oh, and some butter to make it extra rich!
You can add to the recipe yourself, too. We recommend some honey mustard for extra kick, but you can even swap the bacon out for some barbeque pork – whatever you fancy!
10. Chicken Gyros
This a brilliant wrap (see also ‘28 Lunch And Dinner Chicken Wrap Recipes‘) that’s packed with marinated chicken, healthy vegetables, and flavorful Tzatziki sauce.
The amount of different flavors and textures you’re going to get out of this perfect hot lunch can’t be explained, because there’s so many.
Whether it’s the marinade mixture itself (including cooling yogurt, oregano, cumin, paprika, garlic, red wine vinegar, and much more), the tasty chicken, the refreshing Tzatziki sauce, or the extra peppers, onions, and cucumber that dress it all – you’re going to be spoiled for choice!
11. Ham And Cheese Quesadilla
These tortillas packed with baked ham and cheese are perfect and quick for a warm lunchtime meal. Taking just 17 minutes, they’re essentially a delicious and gooey sandwich.
And what do we know about sandwiches? They have a good few ingredients, yet are easy to make. For this, you’ll need some sliced ham, and shredded Monteray Jack cheese, along with onion, tomatoes, and pepper.
If you’ve got leftovers of these, it’s a good way to use them.
You can also swap the Monterey Jack out for a different cheese – Swiss cheese is a popular choice, for the classic Ham and Swiss combination.
12. Caramelized Onion Mushroom Pizza
It may never have occurred to you to have pizza for lunch, but let us tell you: it’s just as delicious as it is any other time, so why not?
Pizzas are notoriously delicious, yet very easy to make – simply a case of popping your favorite toppings on top of the dough and putting it in the oven.
This pizza involves caramelized onion and mushroom, as well as garlic, red wine vinegar, cheese, and more.
Of course, if you want any other toppings, feel free to add them! After 30 minutes of cooking, you’ll have a lunch that will make everyone jealous.
This healthy ramen is full of fresh vegetables and flavorful herbs, all providing you with a lunchtime meal that is warm and welcoming.
Plus, it uses instant ramen noodles, saving you extra time (see also ‘23 Foods That Begin With The Letter I‘)! On the whole, this simple meal will take just 25 minutes, and leave you with plenty of extra servings to enjoy.
Including healthy ingredients like carrots and kale, as well as delicious additions like ginger and garlic, this is a great dish (see also ‘35 Fantastic Healthy Kale Recipes‘). You can even add some sriracha for some spice!
14. Mac ‘N’ Cheese Cups
If you love some mac ‘n’ cheese (which we’ll include later!) then you may have never thought of treating the savory dish like it’s a pudding. Well, you can! With these muffin-like cups, you get all the cheesiness and warmth you love.
Featuring all your favorite ingredients (cheese, bacon, thyme, onion, and more) these allow you to have your best mac ‘n’ cheese dish wherever you go, in portable bite-sized chunks!
You’ll be enjoying cup after cup, so be sure to pack a good few for your lunch.
15. Monte Cristo Sandwich
Inspired by French cuisine, this delicious sandwich takes just 15 minutes to make – leaving you with gooey goodness in no time.
The key parts of the sandwich are ham and cheese, squeezed between sturdy slices of bread and packed with mustard and mayonnaise for an extra refreshing hit.
However, the big difference with this sandwich – and what makes it so great – is that you dip it in egg.
That’s right, your heated sandwich is dipped and coated in some beaten egg, giving it a delicious glaze before it’s cooked and browned properly.
16. Spinach And Smoked Salmon Crepes
These tasty crepes are packed with salmon, spinach, and all other kinds of delicious food. If you want a lovely and exotic sandwich for lunch, there are few better.
Though the recipe tells you how to make crepes, you can simply buy pre-made ones to save yourself some extra time.
After that, it’s a case of whipping up some lemon garlic cream sauce and making your spinach and smoked salmon filling (see also ‘16 Best Leftover Salmon Recipes You Need To Try!‘).
The spinach will give the meal some healthiness, while the smoked salmon gives you a meaty kick and the sauce gives you a hint of zestiness. You can also add cheese, if you want.
17. Caprese Panini
If you’ve ever enjoyed a Caprese salad (and who hasn’t?) this is like having one on the go in sandwich form, a delicious and healthy dish packed with goodness.
Since it’s a sandwich, that also means that it’s very quick and easy to make, yet filled with goodness. Simply slice the panini in half, place the varied ingredients inside, brush olive oil on the top, and cook!
When it comes to those ingredients, this includes a lovely blend of creamy mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, and some basil leaves – as well as a little vinegar and pepper.
18. Sausage Cauliflower Rice
This is a wonderful and speedy lunchtime treat, and one that you may not have otherwise thought to try before.
By making one, you can enjoy some tasty sliced sausages mixed in with cauliflower rice (homemade or bought from your store to save time!).
Throw into that some healthy vegetables, such as bell peppers and onions, and a few spices for some texture, and you’ve got a unique, warm, and filling lunchtime meal.
19. Savory Baked Oatmeal With Vegetables
You might think of oatmeal as a purely breakfast time meal, but you’d be missing out! Enjoying some warm oatmeal for your lunch is a great way to eat healthily and get some added fiber to your diet.
You may also have not thought of trying oatmeal with vegetables, but it’s a delicious twist! Healthy additions like broccoli, sweet potatoes, and spinach will help to bulk up the meal and leave you perfectly filled.
With that being said, you can go off road and add whatever vegetables you fancy!
20. Tuna Melts
Like the Caprese Panini earlier, this is like a salad in a sandwich – and as delicious as that sounds. Essentially, a tuna melt is a grilled cheese sandwich that has tuna salad added to it.
With this combination, you get the gooiness of the cheese and the tastiness of the fish (not to mention tuna’s health benefits).
On top of that, the salad is bursting with goodness itself. Made up of tomato, onion, parsley, tarragon, and more, it’s certain to have your mouth watering and your hunger satisfied.
21. Roasted Cauliflower And Chickpea Salad
This is a great pick for any vegetarians, because it’s packed with healthy vegetable goodness bulked up by filling chickpeas. With that being said, meat-eaters can of course add some meat to it.
Either way, you’ll be getting a great meal! From coriander to yogurt, you may be surprised at the range of ingredients in this lunch dish, but they’re all equally tasty.
You even create a spiced marinade to coat the cauliflower in, giving the whole meal an unforgettable kick.
22. Mac ‘N’ Cheese
We covered mac ‘n’ cheese cups earlier, but this is the original classic in a larger serving.
All the key ingredients are here (the cheese, milk, and butter) along with little extras to make it even better, such as panko (Japanese breadcrumbs).
23. Chicken Satay Curry
If you don’t have a peanut allergy, then this delicious Satay chicken curry from Malaysia is a great way to improve your lunchtimes.
Taking just 45 minutes, you can have a wonderful chicken curry to warm you up. The recipe tells you how to make Satay (peanut) sauce, but you can buy a pre-made one to save time.
After that, it’s a case of cooking the chicken and seasoning the meal – and perhaps even garnishing with some coriander leaves.
A delicious fish burger that’s big on taste and healthiness, this is a quick and simple lunchtime meal.
Essentially fish covered in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and topped with a delicious sauce, this is a burger that you will be itching to have again in no time.
25. Mulligatawny Soup
There are few soups warmer than mulligatawny soup, which has gentle hints of spiciness and sweetness to leave your appetite buzzing.
You get a whole range of flavors, with the recipe including ingredients such as apple, celery, carrot, and chicken broth – to name a few.
There may be a lot of ingredients, but it’s very easy to make, and will leave you with a warm glow once you’ve enjoyed it at lunchtime.
26. Muffin Tin Lasagna Cups
This is exactly as it sounds, all the goodness of a lasagna but in servings the size of muffins.
Lasagna is the perfect lunchtime meal, really, because it has so much greatness in it. Whether it’s the sharp marinara sauce, the gooey cheese, the lovely meat, or the healthy vegetables, it’s a meal with something for everyone.
Plus, it’s got pasta too!
The only difference with this muffin tin version is that you’ll be able to carry it around more, and enjoy it much neater portions!
There’ll be no more wrestling with the melted cheese, because these small cups will make the eating easy for you. Be sure to pack a few, though, because one won’t be enough for your lunch.
27. Quinoa Chicken Enchilada Casserole
This Mexican casserole is not only delicious, but very good for you. That’s because it’s packed with protein from the quinoa, which also offers up B vitamins and fiber.
It may sound like a complicated dish, but this casserole will actually only take you 40 minutes, making it a perfect idea for a hot lunch.
The ingredients are varied, featuring poblano peppers and enchilada sauce, among many others.
As if the main ingredients weren’t enough, you can garnish it with tomato and avocado too, giving it even more healthiness.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Healthy Lunch?
It’s always good to eat healthily. Many of the recipes we’ve included above are healthy, with most involving plenty of vegetables.
Generally speaking, salads and soups will be some of the healthiest and simplest lunches that you can have.
How Can I Make A Cheap Lunch?
Some of the recipes we’ve covered will cost more than others. If you’re trying to have a cheap lunch, go for a rice or salad meal, and make extra portions for the future.
A hot lunch provides more energy and warmth than a cold one, and will often be quick to make. Find a favorite recipe from our list above.
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