6 cozy make-ahead lunches because winter is coming

By Esther LeePhoto of a tasty baked vegetarian lasagna

Imagine enjoying a warm home-cooked meal and relaxing during your lunch hour instead of venturing out in the cold to get food. Now imagine how much money you could save. Few of us stop to think about how much buying lunch at work is costing us. In 2012, a survey by Visa Canada found that 60% of Canadians buy their lunch at least once per week, spending somewhere between $7 and $13 per meal. Many purchase lunch every day. Quick math check: That adds up to more than $3,000 a year, enough to pay for a pretty great vacation. With a bit of Sunday night prep, you could be eating healthier and saving your money. Here are seven warm-you-up lunch ideas for those cold fall days to come.

1. Butternut squash soup

photo of butternut squash soup

Butternut squash soup by Once Upon A Chef

There’s nothing like a bowl of warm soup on a cold day. Skip the can of Campbell’s and try this easy and delicious recipe instead. We love that it takes less than an hour to make from start to finish, and that the ingredient list isn’t super intimidating. 

2. DIY instant noodles with spicy kimchi beef

photo of jar of ramen noodles

DIY instant noodles by J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats

I don’t know what your guilty indulgence is, but one of mine is ramen. It’s my go-to food whenever I’m running low on groceries and want to treat myself. This version seems way healthier and makes a perfect “instant” lunch meal. You don’t even need a microwave — just add hot water. 

3. Cheesy vegetarian chili mac

photo of chili macaroni casserole

Cheesy vegetarian chili mac by Budget Bytes

This recipe combines two classic comfort foods: mac and cheese and chili. Plus, this one-pot meal is full of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry like beans and dried macaroni. You can whip up a batch and have enough for the week or freeze individual portions you can carry to the office.

4. Vegetable lasagna

photo of baked lasagna

Vegetable lasagna by Inspired Taste

I know what you’re thinking: Where's the beef? That’s right. This lasagna is full of colourful veggies like zucchini and roasted red peppers. The best thing? You can easily swap out or add new vegetables depending on what you have in the fridge. It’s perfect for a fridge clean-out sesh or if you’re looking for a hearty but healthy meal. 

5. One-pan salmon and asparagus with garlic herb butter

photo of pan of baked salmon and asparagus

One-pan salmon and asparagus by Natasha’s Kitchen

You didn’t think we’d forget about those omega-3s, did you? This sheet-pan salmon and asparagus is perfect for those looking to get a dose of healthy fats. Plus the prep for this dish is so easy—you just pop the pan in the oven and wait for the magic to happen.

6. Kimchi fried rice

kimchi fried rice

Kimchi fried rice by Maangchi

If you like cooking Korean food, then you’ve definitely heard of Maangchi. If you haven’t, the popular chef and blogger offers a welcoming place to start. Her kimchi fried rice is simple, has minimal ingredients and makes a delicious intro to Korean food. This recipe alone has hundreds of comments from readers to prove its worth. 

Do you make a lunch or grab food on the go? What are your favourite cost-saving lunch hacks? Shoot us an email at [email protected] and we'll share the best tips with our readers.

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