Nothing beats a hot lunch on chilling days, and if you are wondering how to prepare one for your family and yourself quickly, here are more than 25 ideas for you! These recipes are suitable for everyone, no matter whether they are vegetarians or meat lovers.
I bet your family will be happy if they get to enjoy a hot lunch every day. Of course, just introducing the dishes is quite dull, so I also write down several examples in each dish for you to twist the recipe to your liking.
Table of Contents
Here Are 27 Hot Lunch Dishes That Can Warm You Up Immediately
These 27 hot lunch ideas are waiting for you to cook them. Don’t be afraid! The recipes are really simple with only a few steps. You can even make several of them the night before and refrigerate them for lunch.
- Homemade Instant Noodles Cup
- Chicken Fried Rice
- Korean Chicken Bowl
- Lunch-Box Chicken Soup
- Slow Cooker Chili
- Meatball Taquitos
- Ham And Cheese Muffins
- Cheddar, Bacon, And Leek Frittata
- Bacon Cheese Burger Wraps
- Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
- Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers
- Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas
- Pasta e Fagioli Soup
- Chicken Verde Soup
- Skinny Shepherd’s Pie
- Tuna Melt
- Chickpea And Cheddar Quesadillas
- Chickpea Wraps
- Lentil Soup
- Sheet-Pan Ratatouille
- Cauliflower Rice
- Mushroom Pizza With Caramelized Onions
- Lasagna Roll-Ups
- Spicy Tomato Soup
- Minestrone Soup
- Mac And Cheese
- Apple Cheddar Panini Sandwich
16 Hot Lunch Ideas For Meat-And-Fish Lovers
Sometimes, I’ll feel lacking if eating a meal without meat or fish. And I bet many of you agree with me. But meat and fish are so time-consuming to cook? Well, not with these recipes!
Nothing beats a hot bowl of noodles on a cold, chilly day. However, store-bought instant noodles are filled with artificial ingredients and, honestly, don’t taste so delicious. That’s why I suggest making instant noodle cups yourself!
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Just find a jar with a cover and put all of your favorite ingredients and suitable spices in there. Then, when it’s time for lunch, you only need to pour hot water in the jar, and a warm dish has appeared.
Remember that hot water isn’t enough to cook your food thoroughly, so cook any ingredients and noodles that need to be cooked beforehand.
For any Asian cuisine lover, fried rice is something you can’t miss. However, compared to ordering a take-out, a homemade one indeed suits your palate better, and, yes, it’s still steaming when serving.
You can prepare all the ingredients beforehand, especially the rice and chicken. Fried rice is a perfect dish to make with leftover rice and the chicken should be marinated too. You can also replace chicken with other meats like shrimp, pork, or ham.
Find out the secrets to make the best chicken fried rice with this video!
It’s never a bad thing to make your leftover dinner into lunch. And Korean chicken bowl is one of the tastiest options. Spice-yet-sweet Korean sauce can elevate your meal to a higher level, and the chicken tastes even more delicious overnight.
You can choose whatever vegetables to your preferences. My recommendation is kimchi, green onions, cucumber, and many more for an authentic Korean flavor. Make sure you only add these vegetables to your dish at the last minute.
You may think soup is a time-consuming dish and unsuitable for lunch, where you need a quick meal instead. But that doesn’t apply to this recipe! It only takes nearly half an hour to make.
You can even shorten the time by using frozen mixed vegetables instead of preparing fresh ones. Enjoy your chicken soup at home or put it into an insulating box for a hot meal at work/school.
Slow cooker chili makes a lovely lunch, no matter who you serve. Adults or children, everyone craves for some thick soup, especially in cold weather. And you don’t need to pay too much attention to this dish.
Just take whatever ingredients you want and put them into a slow cooker. It will do everything for you. You can make a vegetarian version for health benefits or fill your chili with meat for a satisfying feeling. It’s all up to you!
If you want a full visual description on how to make slow cooker chili, then this is for you.
You want some lasagna but have no time to make one from scratch? Well, you can cook meatball taquitos instead. Taquitos are rolled-up tortillas filled with beef, chicken, or cheese. This time, I will use meatballs to fill them up.
Of course, don’t leave meatballs just as they are. Chop them down finely before using them. You can add many Italian cheeses and tomatoes for more flavors. Fried taquitos taste the best with sour cream and guacamole.
If you are tired of good old ham and cheese sandwiches, why not turn them into muffins? The savory ham and cheese match perfectly with the light sweetness of muffins. Not to mention, muffins can last longer than sandwiches.
You can refrigerate them for several days and reheat them in the toaster oven for lunch. A muffin is just as filling as a sandwich with all the ham and cheese in it. You can even add corn and chives or switch ham with bacon for more flavors and textures.
Although many see frittata as breakfast, it can still be eaten for lunch. For ones who haven’t known this classic Italian delicacy yet, it’s like a savory omelet with all the meats, cheeses, and vegetables. However, people would beat the eggs harsher to create a fluffier and airier texture.
To cook this dish, only leave it on the stove for 10 minutes, just enough for the edges to set. Then, put the frittata in the oven for another 2 or 3 minutes, depending on your oven’s strength. Finally, let it cool down for a bit and serve for a warm lunch!
While its name is “bacon cheese burger wraps”, the beef in this recipe isn’t a patty as in a burger. Instead, you’ll cook ground beef with spices, onion just like in any taco. Then, wrap the meat with cheese, bacon in a tortilla.
You can grill the wraps on a griddle or a skillet for nice, crunchy bites. And, of course, any topping for a cheeseburger can go perfectly with this dish, such as shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, ketchup, and mustard.
Sweet, salty, with a hint of sourness, is what honey lime chicken enchilada will bring to you. The original recipe uses rotisserie chicken, but you can replace it with breast chicken. Then, marinate it in a mixture of honey, lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder, and you’re good to go!
Also, if you want to cook this dish ahead of time, freeze it, and reheat it for lunch, corn tortillas are a better choice than flour ones, as the latter tends to get soggy after defrosting.
Check this video and try to make your own enchiladas.
For a quick and healthy lunch, you can just make some stuffed peppers. Bell peppers can go with any fillings, from rice, beans to vegetables or meat. This recipe will use ground turkey for its lean meat.
Aside from turkey, you can add various other ingredients like sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cheese to diversify the flavor. Combined with homemade tomato sauce, this will make a perfect lunch. Not to mention, the red color of the dish can warm you right up.
You often see chicken fajitas with tortillas. But believe me, they still taste delicious as well on their own. And it helps reduce the cooking time. Or you can serve them with lettuce or cauliflower rice for extra flavor.
Making chicken fajitas is not challenging. Just spread chicken breasts, pepper, and onions on a baking sheet and roast them for about 10 minutes. And here goes your meal! Really convenient, isn’t it? You can use sour cream, cheese, or guacamole as toppings.
Pasta e Fagioli means pasta and beans, so you know what this dish is about? Pasta and beans, of course! But there are other ingredients in this recipe like ground beef, tomatoes, and various vegetables.
All of them make one filling and comforting lunch. You can make this soup beforehand, freeze it and thaw to eat on chilly days.
This soup may be simple but you can improve it like in this video.
This soup is one of the warmest and heartiest lunch meals. Verde soup is actually just the spicy green salsa in soup form. However, when combined with shredded chicken, hominy, and white beans, it becomes more satisfying than you could imagine.
The heat mainly comes from the salsa verde, but you can add cumin for its smokiness or Greek yogurt for its tangy and rich flavor.
Shepherd’s pie is delicious but quite too rich and heavy for lunch. That’s why I’ll show you how to make a skinny one. In this version, I replace the mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower. Or you can make a mixture from both of them.
Other ingredients stay the same or if you want a no-meat version, use vegetarian crumbles instead of ground beef. The dish still tastes as good but will provide fewer calories.
Have some leftover tuna salad and want to change it into a warm meal? Well, tuna melt is your solution. Traditionally, tuna melt is a part of the tuna melt sandwich. But you can use various types of bread like muffins or hamburger buns as well.
As this dish contains tuna and cheese, you may want some salad to lighten the richness and saltiness. A drill of lemon juice or some Dijon mustard can balance the flavor too.
Check this video to see how the tuna melts!
11 Vegetarian Lunch Recipes For Freezing Days
When it comes to vegetarian lunch, many only think of salad. And I beg to differ! Here are all hot lunches using only vegetables, beans, eggs, and cheese.
If you want something new for lunch, quesadillas are a perfect option. Quesadillas are a Mexican specialty including a tortilla and a filling of cheese, meats, spices, and many more. With this recipe, I will use chickpea and cheddar as filling.
Do you know what’s the best factor about this dish? It’s that your quesadillas can last up to three days in the fridge and three months if frozen. Just wrap them separately in aluminum foil. Then, before eating, reheat them with a toaster and oven.
Chickpea salad is one classic dish for lunch as it can fill your belly in no time. However, it’s not hot at all. And there’s no harm in twisting things up for a bit. So that’s what I’m going to do now: Wrap chickpea salad with various ingredients in some tortillas, and here is your lunch!
This dish is also an excellent way to use all the leftover dinner. You can make the filling buffalo chickpea, chickpea with scrambled eggs, and so on. They all taste delicious! To prepare these for lunch, just make them the night before and store them in the fridge. Reheat them in the microwave at lunch.
A full guidance for you to make chickpea wraps!
You may churn your nose at the words “lentil soup”. But trust me, with the correct cooking method, lentil soup is a dish that you can’t stop at one bowl only. The secret lies in the spices you put in it. With some lemon zest or just, lentil soup can taste totally different.
Aside from flavors, lentil soup is rich in minerals and proteins. And it also contains slow-burning carbohydrates, which make you feel full for longer. So next time you get stuck with your lunch, make some lentil soup and serve with crusty bread.
While ratatouille is originally a French stew, you can make it on a sheet pan to reduce the time. Just chop all the vegetables you intend to use in this dish and spread them on the baking sheet. And leave them in the oven for 40 minutes, and your meal’s done!
If you want something more filling than just vegetables, you can add sausages or chicken to this recipe. Another thing to remember is vegetables will release moisture. So, be careful with the amount of oil in this dish.
It’s fast, it’s tasty, it’s filling, it’s healthy. Is there anything else that cauliflower rice can’t do? The recipes vary from one to another, but simple versions of cauliflower rice take roughly 10 minutes or so.
Besides the tender cauliflower, you can also taste the sweetness of tomatoes and a bit of sourness from lime juice in this dish. Also, don’t hesitate to add some burrito or taco salads as a side dish.
Bored of the same cauliflower rice taste? This video will show you 7 flavor variations!
When you’re exhausted from work and chores and don’t want to make something with too many ingredients, this recipe is for you! Mushrooms, onions, spinach, cheese, a little thyme, and a pizza crust, that’s all it needs!
Despite these simple components, it tastes overwhelmingly delicious! And I assure you, this doesn’t take long to make, especially if you’ve caramelized onions in advance. It would take just about 20-30 minutes for a piping hot lunch.
Classic lasagna is flavorful, but lasagna roll-ups are less messy and easier to make. Not to mention, you can quickly portion them up for every house member’s lunch. The primary cooking process stays mostly the same.
However, you’ll divide the noodles first and roll them up into different portions. With this, you can change the ingredients in each roll-up. For example, add some spinach in these roll-ups, switch the ground beef with sausages in other ones,… Your usual lunch will turn out to be a big surprise!
Nothing warms you up like a bowl of hot spicy tomato soup. First, stir the fresh tomatoes and canned ones together, then add chicken broth (or water, if you don’t have one). Next, simmer the mixture with any spices you want until it’s thick enough.
Crushed pepper’s always the first choice to create heat in this dish. But if you can’t stand the spiciness, feel free to leave it aside. However, don’t forget the grilled cheese. People say without it, tomato soup loses half of its tastiness.
When you have tons of vegetables in your fridge and don’t know what to do with them, make a minestrone pot. There is no rule on what can be used in this dish. Most of the time, the essential ingredients are onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and pasta.
From there, you can add any vegetables to your liking. For instance, cheese is a decent addition for more richness. And if you want extra protein, don’t hesitate to add some ground beef or sausage to the dish. No matter what, the result is always delicious.
After watching this, you can make minestrone soup like a professional.
Even now, I still remember the joy when having mac and cheese for lunch. So, why don’t you bring that joy to your family and yourself? Even a plain mac and cheese, with just creamy sauce, pasta, and tons of cheese, can make a savoring lunch.
And of course, you can elevate this dish by adding various foods, such as ham, peas, sausages, mushrooms, and so on. Also, try baking mac and cheese in your muffin tins if you have some. This way, you can enjoy it wherever you want.
If you prefer something else over the same old grilled cheese, then try these panini sandwiches. They are grilled sandwiches with Italian bread. You can fill anything between two slices of bread, but with this recipe, let’s try a vegetarian option: Apples with cheddar cheese.
Apart from these ingredients, remember to add honey mustard for a warmer and more balanced flavor. Of course, extra toasted turkey or bacon doesn’t hurt, so you can add some if you want.
There are some short notices to ensure you have a hot lunch even after spending hours outside:
- Invest in your lunch box: A heat-insulating lunch box of great quality can keep your lunch warm longer than just a regular plastic box. Glass boxes can be a decent option too.
- Keep toppings and dressings separate from your main ingredients: Toppings and sauces are often served cold. So putting them together with your lunch can cool it down in no time.
- Cook everything beforehand if possible: There are always ovens and microwaves to reheat your lunch. However, this doesn’t mean they can cook all the ingredients thoroughly.
With this advice, I believe now you can have a hot lunch every time and everywhere. If you find this article useful, please share it with your relatives! And don’t forget to share your own lunch ideas in the comment section below!