If you’re like us, you brown bag it most days. It’s cheaper and it takes less time than eating out. And it’s one meal that doesn’t have to be tailored to anyone’s tastes but your own.
So, what’s in your lunchbox? Any whole grains? There really should be! Hot or cold, whole grains for lunch can be satisfying, healthy and easy to prepare.
Start with our #1 timesaving tip: “Cook Once, Eat Twice”. In other words, next time you cook rice, double it (or quinoa, farro, barley, etc). Leftover grains are the perfect building blocks for whole grain lunches, including bowls, wraps, soups, salads and stir-fries.
Now ask yourself: Hot or Cold? This means the dish and how you pack it. Wide mouth food thermoses are terrific for packing hot food when you’ll be on the go or reheating will be a hassle.
Get creative! There are so many ways to make grain salads. Add in protein and vegetables, and it’s a one dish meal! Using seasonal vegetables and herbs will help you stay out of a lunch rut.
Ready to get cooking? Here’s a leftover brown rice mock risotto to inspire you:
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- 4 cups cooked brown rice (leftover cold rice works best)
- Up to 2 cups Chicken stock or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage (or thyme)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
Over medium fl ame, heat oil in a large saucepan and then add diced onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned. Add the butternut squash and cook until the vegetables tender and slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat or add a small amount of stock if needed, to keep the vegetables from over-browning. Then add the broccoli fl orets and garlic, and continue to cook until the fl orets turn bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Remove vegetables and set aside.
Deglaze the pan with the broth and the white wine and then add cooked rice. Lower the heat and let simmer until mostly, but not entirely, absorbed, about 5-10 minutes. Stir frequently to keep from sticking to the pan. Add cooked vegetables and stir. Once the broth and the wine are almost completely absorbed and the rice has thickened, add milk and herbs and turn off heat. Combine thoroughly and stir until the rice mixture is creamy.
Season to taste, and garnish with parmesan cheese, chopped herbs or pesto. Serve immediately.
You can learn more about cooking with whole grains in our Fundamentals classes: