12 Sassy Desk Lunches For Fall
I live for lunchtime. Being self-employed means that I’m able to up the ante on the lunch front and whip up something delicious on a whim, which is a luxury I don’t take for granted. The ability to sneak in a little time with a good podcast or my favorite teen soap characters (currently either Seth Cohen or Pacey Witter) while I make lunch may just be the greatest perk of working from home. Aside from the pants optional dress code, obviously.
I realize the majority of working people are unable to cook lunch à la minute, but that doesn’t mean one is doomed to fast food or a sad desk lunch. With a little planning and the right recipes, a daily #sassydesklunch can be had by all! I’ve taken the liberty of rounding up some of my favorite seasonal sassy desk lunch ideas below, but before we dive into the recipes, let’s quickly review the basic SDL requirements.
5 Requirements for a Sassy Desk Lunch:
- It must taste good and travel well. Eating a bland lunch is both sad and unnecessary. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t spend all morning being excited about lunchtime. (Like I said, I do.)
- It must not be smelly. It’s not the best idea to bring something that stinks of garlic, curry, eggs, or fish of any kind to eat at your desk. I’m not saying that your office peeps will automatically hate you if you bring a giant container of salmon salad, but they might. Better safe than sorry.
- It must be healthy and satisfying. The point of lunch is to keep you full and energized throughout the afternoon, not to induce a food coma. We know this.
- It must look pretty. This is important because a.) you deserve to eat something that appears appetizing, and b.) it will make any passing co-workers jealous appreciative of both your lunch and your domestic skills and/or lead to midday compliments (which are everyone’s favorite pick-me-up).
- It must be simple. In other words, you must be able to whip it up easily in advance and pack it in some to-go ware, so that you can grab it on your way out the door in the morning.
Now that you know the #sassydesklunch drill, let’s talk about some foolproof seasonal options…
12 Sassy Desk Lunches for Fall
1. Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts and Cranberries. If you hang out with me Instagram, you may have noticed I’ve been hitting this salad hard lately. I typically add some shredded chicken for a little extra protein and eat it at room temperature, which is delightful.
2. Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Sesame-Garlic Dressing. Bright, crunchy, and loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, this salad is a great go-to solo or topped with your favorite protein. I’ve found that it holds up shockingly well pre-dressed, but I still recommend keeping the dressing in a separate container and tossing it with the salad come lunchtime.
3. Harvest Kale Salad with Maple-Tahini Dressing. Everyone knows a massaged kale salad is a sassy desk luncher’s best friend. Kale is really the only green that benefits from marinating in a dressing (it gets extra tender and flavorful!), so it’s ideal for meal prep. Make the entire recipe when you have time, and store it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Other kale salads I love for fall: Autumn Kale Salad with Roasted Cauliflower and Apple; Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Pomegranate and Avocado; Kale Salad with Edamame, Roasted Cashews and Miso Dressing.
4. Lemon-Dijon Chicken Salad with Pomegranate and Toasted Almonds. This easy, mustard-based chicken salad is light, fresh, and loaded with health benefits. Bring a few leaves of butter or Bibb lettuce to make lettuce wraps, pile it over chopped greens or baby arugula, or eat it sandwich/wrap style with your favorite whole-grain bread or tortilla.
5. Farro with Chipotle Glazed Squash, Kale and Toasted Pepitas. This magical grain salad tossed with a chipotle-lime dressing is a highly textured taste treat with fall flavors that just won’t quit. If you’re into sweet and savory combos (with a little heat), you’re going to freak over this one.
6. Quinoa Green Goddess Bowl with Crispy Chickpeas and Lemon-Tahini Dressing. Packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and a whole host of essential vitamins and minerals, this vegan miracle meal will make you feel like god/goddess at your desk. I recommend keeping the chickpeas in a separate container (to maintain their crunch) and waiting to slice the avocado until serving.
7. Seedy Soba Noodles with Asian Herbs. When you’re looking for a super comforting, carb-y midday meal that won’t weigh you down, these soba noodles with tons of fresh herbs really hit the spot.
8. Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprout Fried Rice. I like to call this “fall fried rice,” and it is as nutritious as it is delicious, friends. High in fiber, carotenoids, antioxidants, and immune-boosting fatty acids, this recipe happens to be gluten-free, plant-based, and Dude Diet-friendly. It’s great warm or at room temp, and you can easily bulk it up with some chicken or sausage if you like.
9. Red Quinoa and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad. Given that this superfood quinoa salad is bursting with plant-based protein, fiber, antioxidants, and beta-carotene, it’s practically guaranteed to make you smarter and prettier while sitting at your desk. Hallelujah.
10. Tomato and White Bean Stew with Chicken Sausage. As long as you have access to a microwave, this stew is a killer option for those chilly days when you need a stick-to-your ribs lunch that will give you the warm fuzzies.
11. Smoky Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Kale. Given that it actually tastes better after a day or two in the fridge, this hearty, flavor-blasted one-pot wonder is the perfect thing to whip up at the beginning of the week and take to work all week long. (Again, assuming that you have access to a microwave.)
12. Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew with Quinoa and Kale. This nutrient-packed vegetarian stew is killer as written, but it’s really a template that can be used to create an endless variety of sassy desk lunches. Any type of beans will work, you can use whatever greens float your boat, and almost any winter squash can be subbed for sweet potatoes. Paleo peeps and Whole30-ers, replace the beans with meat and leave out the quinoa. You get the point. #youdoyou
*While I didn’t add any to this list, please note that quinoa bake leftovers also make the sassiest of desk lunches.
May your desk lunches be extra sassy this fall, friends!! Virtual chest bump.
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