Before the world went quiet, I was a diehard office goer.
I drove a mix of back roads and highway miles for forty minutes each way to Vermont Creamery HQ in Websterville, Vermont. With me, I schlepped my laptop and enough food and snacks to get through the day.
Occasionally I used my commute to daydream about how amazing my life would be if I was lucky enough to work from home. I imagined a highly structured day full of uninterrupted focus and endless inspiration gained from long, introspective lunchtime walks. I pictured a quiet, child-free day at my perfectly organized home desk, punctuated by a deliciously complicated lunch made from scratch.
Now, people of the world, here we are: working, schooling and exercising from the comfort and confinement of our homes, and it isn’t glam. For the first two weeks I consumed zero from-scratch lunches, surviving instead on endless carbs, popcorn and coffee until dinnertime.
A hard reset was needed.
Coming to my senses, I decided to make as much lunch as I possibly could ahead of time, and just assemble lunches on the fly. I chopped and roasted vegetables by the kilo, made enough grainy things (like quinoa, farro, wheatberries, rice) to last the week. I even pre-made pie crusts and froze cookie dough for the desperate stress baking that is inevitable in a quarantine situation.
If you had told me four weeks ago that we, as a society, would be using sourdough starter and pie crust as a lifeboat for our sanity I would have laughed, but here we are.
Having a volume of pre-made ingredients on hand is one way to ease the pain of cooking from scratch during the workday and cut down on snacking; this was my intention anyways. A pie crust can quickly become a quiche; a bunch of cooked farro can easily become a grain bowl, roasted veggies are quickly incorporated into a delicious sandwich.
See where I’m going with this?
Here are some recipes that are easy to toss together, either from scratch in the moment (how ambitious!) or made partially ahead of time. Either way to do it, these are some delicious lunch options for my fellow work from homers.
Southwestern Grain Bowl
Grain bowls are great because they’re like tacos, but not quite tacos, because we can’t exist solely on tacos. They are protein-rich and easy to make ahead of time; they reheat well and if you add crème fraiche ranch, you’ll be as happy as you would be if you were eating tacos. You’re welcome.
Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad
Brussel sprouts get a bad rap mostly because they can be an acquired taste. Those anti-brussel sprout folks out there need to know that shaved brussel sprouts become a whole new thing. It’s like a deliciously crunchy coleslaw or chopped salad and topped with apples and goat cheese it’s better than any sad desk salad you’ve ever tasted.
Grilled Vegetable Sandwich
Here’s another one that can come together quickly thanks to all those veggies you roasted ahead of time. Veggies take on new life when grilled, onions and peppers get sweeter with a little char and we love a little smoky flavor. Spread goat cheese on your bread or roll, and voila, lunch is served.
Harvest Farro Salad
Farro is a versatile and delicious grain that is nutritious, protein- packed and filling, so you have a chance of avoiding all the afternoon snacks (good luck to you!) We dressed up this ancient grain with fresh goat cheese and cranberries, and topped it with a light lemon and olive oil dressing.
Look, sometimes, cheese is lunch. We aren’t going to pretend that we haven’t thrown together a quick little cheese and charcuterie board to get us through the middle of the day. Using fridge staples like olives, pickles, any old assorted meat or tin fish, this antipasto cheeseboard is a cheering sight any day of the week. What day is it by the way?