If your lunch break at work has you feeling like you took your middle school lunches for granted, because every day is an impossible scramble to find something that's appetizing, satisfying, and readily available, your best bet is to start bringing lunch with you to the office. If you don't have time to meal prep earlier in the week, and the idea of organizing a bagged lunch before work overwhelms you, look no further than Trader Joe's for lunch ideas.
It's one of the only grocery stores that's curated for its shoppers, allowing you to turn your brain off while you're there and trust that you'll probably like anything they have to offer. The grocery store has a balanced selection of both pre-packed meals perfect to grab and go, and also easy-to-make meals that can be put together or heated up within minutes in the break room.
With a little bit of creativity, you can look forward to lunch, avoid hanger, and save money. See below for 13 Trader Joe's lunch ideas, from hearty grain salads to veggie-packed wraps and spicy cold noodles, that are perfect for bringing to the office.
1. Salad Kit
Trader Joe's has a variety of different salad kits that are big enough for at least two servings. Pour half of the mixed dry ingredients into a mason jar and bring with you the dressing packet so that you can dress it right before you eat. Save the rest of the salad for your dinner or to use as a topping for tacos and sandwiches.
2. Cold Or Warm Grain Salad
If you like your salad to have a bit more depth, check out the Harvest Grain Salad which can be enjoyed warm or cold, depending on your mood or break room appliances. This salad has quinoa, root veggies, fried fruits, nuts, and more, making it incredibly filling and nutritious. If you want more protein, you back pack sliced pieced of meat or tofu to mix into the salad at meal time.
3. Cracker Sando's
In the prepared food section, Trader Joe's has a great selection of pre-made deli spreads, like tuna salad, egg salad, whitefish salad, cheese spread, hummus, guacamole, and more. Because they're already packaged, they're easy to bring to work. Pack some crackers, chips or rice cakes to enjoy the spreads on and you have yourself a pretty well balanced snack or meal without any mess.
4. Sushi Or Thai Food
In the pre-made food section, Trader Joe's has a variety of sushi rolls (both vegetarian and raw fish) that are perfectly packed for a desk side lunch. Add a pack of Thai summer rolls to balance out the meal and you have a hearty dish that's totally packed and mess-free.
5. Italian Rolls
Don't want to risk packing a sandwich in the morning and ending up with something soggy that barely resembles a sandwich by lunch time? Opt for some independently rolled meat and cheese combos. The Mozzarella Rolloni pack is easy to transport and makes a great salad topper, too.
6. Kettle Cooked Soups
Having a hearty warm soup, like this Chicken Soup that has gnocchi, to look forward to is a great thing to have in the winter months, especially. These soups are precooked, so they can hang out in your lunch box for a few hours, and all you need to do is heat it up to enjoy. Bring crackers or a slice or bread to dip.
7. Hot Or Cold Noodle Salad
If you have the time, cook up Trader Joe's cold spicy peanut noodles recipe the night before and portion out your lunch serving into a mason jar. You can top with protein or veggies and then enjoy hot or cold for lunch the next day.
8. Protein Box
If you're really more of a snacker than a meal person at lunch time, a protein box might be the perfect thing for you. Mix and match TJ's prepared foods like hard boiled eggs, peanut butter, cheese, carrots and fruit and eat together, or separately.
9. Savory Oatmeal
Who says oatmeal is just for breakfast Pack yourself a jar of peanut butter, some nuts or seeds, and a cup of instant oatmeal and you can put together the savory dish for lunch instead.
10. Veggie Burrito
If you pack a frozen Veggie Burrito in the morning, by lunch it will be thawed out. All you need to do is warm it up in the microwave and lunch is served. Pack some premade guacamole or salsa to make it more flavorful.
11. Ramen Soup
Trader Joe's has a great selection of Ramen Soup that's super easy to heat up for lunch. You can pack some spinach leaves, a hardboiled egg or even some protein to add to the heated soup to make it even more filling.
12. Rainbow Wrap
The Rainbow Wrap is a hearty wrap sandwich that can be enjoyed warm or cold, made with roasted sweet potato, hummus, beets, and spinach. It travels well, it's easy to spice up with hot sauce or make creamy with a dressing or dip, but is perfectly balanced on its own.
13. PB&J Rice Cake
If the thought of a single peanut butter and jelly sandwich doesn't sound filling or exciting, pack up the peanut butter, the jelly, a stack of rice cakes and a banana or apple and make your own open-faced sandwiches at your desk. Make each rice cake a little bit different and get as creative as you please.
The best part about these meals are that they're all customizable. They come ready to eat (some need heating) and can be beefed up, sweetened or made even more nutritious by bringing a few ingredients from home.