Tag Archives: lunch recipes

Salmon & Couscous Salad

The first time I had this salad was on a family vacation, and my sister-in-law and her friend were cooking a vegetarian dinner for everyone. She has been a vegetarian for going on 20 years now, which is an awe-inspiring lifestyle, for me. I’m not sure where the original recipe came from, but it involved corn and tomatoes, pine nuts and salmon, shaved parmesan and arugula. It sounded pretty good.

Then we sat down to eat. And it was presented beautifully, layered in a rainbow across a large serving tray.

And then I took a bite.

And I was in love.

That’s the story of my obsession with my favorite salad of all time. Since then I have made several permutations of this salad, for a dinner party, for hubs and myself, and just for me to enjoy at work. It is super simple to put together, and can be an easy thing to take to work to eat for several days. You can eat it cold or room temp, so there is no microwave fishy smell (which I’m sure my co-workers appreciate).

And it is virtually endlessly customizable. I’ve had it with pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, macademia nuts, or none. I’ve tried craisins, raisins, dates, and prunes. I’ve used couscous, quinoa, or no grains. And nearly every salad dressing on the planet will go with this well, as well as having it naked! (As in, no dressing, though do whatever makes you happy. At your house, not at work.)

If you’ve been keeping up with my Weekly Eating series, you know this is frequently a dish I make in large amounts so that I can have leftovers for several days. I’ve begun taking enough for 3-4 days’ worth to work, and just keeping it in the refrigerator and taking out one serving at a time. It is super healthy, quite filling, and pretty affordable if you choose ingredients seasonally and/or on sale.

If you’ve been looking for a recipe to impress at a dinner party, a meal that is inclusive for vegetarians (just offer extra protein options like quinoa and other toppings like beans/nuts), something light and fresh and healthy, or a make-ahead nearly-no-prep work lunch option, look no further!

Ingredients (per salad):

  • 2-3 ounces cooked salmon
  • 2-3 cups salad (spinach, romaine, mixed greens, arugula)
  • 1/2 cup cooked couscous (or barley, rice, quinoa)
  • Sprinkle of craisins or raisins or other dried fruit
  • Sprinkle of nuts (walnuts work best but any will work)
  • Sprinkle of cheese (parmesan, feta, goat…)
  • Optional other toppings: tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, peppers, carrots, beans, anything you can think of!
  • Dressing of choice

Step 1: Cook your salmon however you like, I usually pan-fry them with a spritz of coconut oil or bake them in the oven. Your choice to leave them as a fillet or shred them. You could also use canned, drained salmon here, or sub in cooked chicken, steak, or other fish.

Step 2: Cook your couscous or other grain. I like pearled couscous because it has a pleasant, sort-of-chewy texture that goes well with the overall texture of the salad. Quinoa is also good here.

Step 3: For visual effect, lay down a bed of greens and then layer each separate ingredient in a line across it. To just dig in, toss it all in a bowl, topping as you see fit. Enjoy!

 

 

Lean Green Tuna Salad

 

We all have hectic days where we just don’t have time to pack a lunch with heart-shaped cheeses, individually peeled grapes, and 3-4 servings of vegetables included. Whether for yourself or some back-to-school young’uns, packing so many lunches all year long can get tiresome.

But don’t give up! As stated over and over again in financial writing, bringing a lunch is nearly always cheaper than a similar meal out at a restaurant, or even “fast casual” food places. While articles like the Simple Dollar point out that there is a large margin of what a brown bag lunch may cost, just keep track yourself for one week and you will soon see.

Even if you have the smallest of fast-food options (maybe half a $6 sandwich, and half the next day, for a total per day of $3, not including any drinks or extras), it is easy to create incredibly cheap meals for yourself at home, or even pack lunches which you can assemble wherever you are when it’s time to eat. Sometimes for even less than $1 a day!

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And with a little creativity, you can create these easy, cheap meals, and actually make them healthy too!  We’re talking several levels above ramen noodles, folks. Just check out my “less than 5” section for a plethora of ideas.

More ideas:

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This recipe is a healthified tuna salad. By adding several kinds of vegetables you bulk up the salad with fiber and vitamins, and adding an egg gives the already 16g of protein an extra 6g boost. If you’re truly hard core, you can even forego the mayonnaise and just add lemon juice for a dash of flavor.

This is borderline vegetarian, if you are lacto-ovo vegetarian. It is extremely healthy, especially if you omit mayo. You can pack all the ingredients in a cooler and assemble at your desk or at school. If you buy tuna on sale, you can get it for $0.30 a can. 1/2 avocado + 1/2 cucumber is slightly less than $1.

Add another $0.50 or so for one egg and a few cents for lemon juice and any seasonings, and you have a hefty lunch/appetizer/dinner for about $2. Add a few big leaves of romaine for a dinner of tuna salad wraps, or serve over a big bed of lettuce with some nuts and berries for a more filling option.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can or pouch chunk tuna in water
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise

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Step 1: Open the tuna and drain. Rinse the cucumber and dice into small chunks. You could use celery here, or peas, or shredded carrot. Whatever vegetable you like to add bulk and nutrition.

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Step 2: Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the seed. In a bowl, combine the tuna, lemon juice, and mayo. Mix well. Add the cucumber and avocado, smash it around until well combined. Dice the boiled egg, and mix that in.

Season with garlic salt and black pepper if so desired. Serve with slices of bread, a wrap or pita, or whole wheat crackers.

Lean Green Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 can chunk tuna in water
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Open the tuna and drain. Rinse the cucumber and dice into small chunks. You could use celery here, or peas, or shredded carrot. Whatever vegetable you like to add bulk and nutrition.
  2. Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the seed. In a bowl, combine the tuna, lemon juice, and mayo. Mix well. Add the cucumber and avocado, smash it around until well combined. Dice the boiled egg, and mix that in.
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Baker’s Dozen: Quick Lunch Ideas

 

Happy Easter my dear readers! Hopefully you are reading this after the fact, because when this is published I wish you all the love of family and friends, good food, and chocolate bunnies. Wherever and whenever you are, thanks for reading! (By the way, you may enjoy last year’s Easter article, or this handy guide of ideas for leftover ham).

Somewhere between 11 and 1 each day, your stomach or your watch will bring up that daily question: What’s for lunch? While leftovers make a fantastic lunch option, you can only tolerate ham sandwiches or the same old pasta so many times in one week.

If you’re tired of the same sandwich every day, if you’re going broke eating out 5 days a week, or if you just want to try something new, look no further! Here are 13 great ideas for lunch today, tomorrow, next week, or forever. Mix it up based on your own tastes, and what you have available.

 

Simple Sandwiches
The classic lunchtime standby, a cold sandwich is the pinnacle of convenience. You don’t need to heat, mix, or do anything besides open the container and enjoy. Of course, if you are at home or have access to a grill/panini press, more power to you! Here are some fun ideas besides the tired PB&J.

Mediterranean Panini – This combination of fresh, Mediterranean inspired vegetables and warm melty goodness only needs one letter to describe it: Mmmmmmmm…

Vurgers (Veggie burgers!) – These little gems can be made 8-12 at a time and frozen for lunch in a flash. Eat them alone, on bread, or wrapped up, with your choice of toppings. I’d recommend cheese, salsa, and/or coleslaw.

Double Turkey BLT – With sliced turkey and turkey bacon, plus fresh crisp veggies, this protein-packed beauty should tide you over until the dinner bell rings.

That’s a Wrap
Wraps are even more simple than sandwiches because you can close the tortilla on both sides so nothing oozes out. And you can put just about anything you can think of into a wrap, don’t limit yourself to just lunch meat. Breakfast burritos are great at noon too.

Vegetarian Wrap – customize this with whatever you have available: shredded carrots, juilenned cucumber or zucchini, sprouts, homemade red pepper hummus, greens, avocado or guacamole…

Caesar Chicken Wrap – wrap up 1 cup of shredded lettuce (try Romaine, kale, and/or spinach), 1/2 cup grilled chicken (hot or cold), shredded Parmesan cheese, a few croutons and a drizzle of Caesar or Ranch dressing for a quick, easy, portable lunch.

Ham & Veggie Burrito – use whatever fresh or frozen veggies you have on hand to create a unique lunchtime treat. Eat cold or hot.

Super Salads
Salads have a bad rap for being “rabbit food”, something only the super healthy or super weird consider a meal, and not at all filling. That is just a downright lie! You can eat a pile of greens the size of your head for fewer calories than a ‘snack-size’ bag of chips, and if you add the right kinds of toppings you can stay fueled all day. Besides, there are other kinds of salads than the leafy green kind.

Kale & Barley Salad – a vegetarian delight, this hearty mix tastes amazing and will keep your tummy from growling for hours.

Creamy Tuna Potato Salad – with lean protein from the tuna, filling starch from the potatoes, and lots of fresh veggies, this meal has it all.

Steak & Orange Salad – thin slices of strip or flank steak pair perfectly with mandarin oranges and a balsamic vinaigrette. Feel free to use pear or apple slices instead and any dressing you like.

Asian Chicken Salad – use that old package of Ramen noodles in a healthier, more creative, and much tastier way than salty chicken water.

Soup’s On
Soups are a classic budget favorite because they are infinitely versatile and super cheap per serving. But if you get creative, there are plenty of filling, portable options, even some that can be eaten cold. Invest in a nice thermos, or take advantage of the microwave if you have one available.

Ham & Barley Soup – with layers of flavor from the ham bones, healthy kale and carrots, and whole grain barley, this soup should keep you going until quitting time. Add a garden salad, some thick hearty bread or crackers to complete the meal.

Baked Potato Soup – Potatoes are fabulous, they are so cheap and are very filling. Try this twist on classic baked potato soup for far fewer calories and your wallet and waist will thank you.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup – Best served in a bread bowl, but also great enjoyed with fresh crusty bread.

 

*Those recipes in italics are vegetarian/vegan friendly! Feel free to add meat if that is your thing.