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Step up your workday lunch routine with 7 recipes for simple, satisfying options

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post/Food styling by Gina Nistico for The Washington Post)
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I’ll be the first to admit that lunch often gets short shrift in my meal-planning. I’m so fixated on making sure dinners are covered for the whole family that I often don’t have the time or energy to get my act together for lunch. And working from home has put me in the weird position of not feeling the urgency to prep something to brown-bag and also not having lots of takeout options within a block or two.

So what happens? I grumble a bit and then whip up a lunch from scratch each day, which is sometimes a nice treat but frequently a drag, especially if it’s a recipe testing day in the home kitchen.

How to meal-plan: 6 tips for success

I’m sure I’m not alone in not properly planning for lunch. But we can do better, friends. Here are a few easy, make-ahead recipes for the midday meal, whether you’ve returned to the office or are still working from home.

Baked Falafel, above. No need to fry with this recipe that’s easy to scale up, stash and share. Use in wraps, on salads or simply dipped in your condiment of choice. Check out more kid-friendly recipes that you can use for eaters of any age in this story from Sonja and Alex Overhiser of the A Couple Cooks blog (as well as our Plant Powered newsletter).

5 adaptable lunch recipes for kids heading back to school — and parents, too

Muhammara (Syrian Red Pepper and Walnut Dip). I’m all about having dips on hand to eat with whatever bread or vegetables I have at home. They’re no problem to transport to the office, too. This hearty, slightly tart dip assembled in the food processor would make for a nice mezze platter with another dip or two, such as five-minute hummus or herbed yogurt, pita wedges and crudites. For bonus points, pair those with the baked falafel.

Returning to the office? Here’s how to level up your work lunch.

Coronation Chickpea Salad. Here’s a meatless riff on the famous chicken salad from across the pond. It’s laced with curry powder and mango chutney for zippy flavor and includes mayo and yogurt for creaminess. Deli salads — see this Deli Salad Sandwich 3 Ways for a flexible formula — are great for lunch at home or on the go, especially when tucked into some homemade bread. Find more options in my roundup of chicken, egg, ham and more salads.

Chicken, egg, ham and chickpea salad recipes for quick sandwiches in the home office

Greek Lentil and Spinach Soup With Lemon. I can’t talk about workday lunches without mentioning this reader-favorite soup. As with many other soups and stews, it will freeze very well and can be thawed and reheated as needed.

7 quick soups and stews to make and freeze now. Your future self will thank you.

Sheet Pan Frittata. You’ll only need about 10 minutes to prep this dish that works just as well for lunch as it does breakfast. Add your favorite vegetables or cheese for a custom creation, and then feel free to enjoy the leftovers warm or at room temperature, served with a salad or in a sandwich. Feeling fancy? Quiche is another make-ahead option.

8 quiche recipes for eggy, cheesy meals, any time of day

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad With Crispy Broccoli. Whole-grain pasta and broccoli — conveniently frozen — come together for a hearty, simple and satisfying dish that travels very well.

Our best pasta salad recipes for refreshing eating

Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps With Oyster Sauce. This speedy recipe comes together in 20 minutes. If you invest that time, you’ll be rewarded with a few days of exciting lunches for which you need only reheat the beef, if desired, and prep a few lettuce leaves.

More from Voraciously:

Lunch at home is new for some of us. Here’s how to make it count

How to make your own lunch bowl

Low-effort sandwiches that make you look forward to lunch