15 Dishes That Prove Lunch Is Better in a Bowl

updated May 1, 2019
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There’s something so perfect about a one-bowl meal. Equal parts comforting and efficient (we’ll always be in favor of fewer dishes to wash), bowl meals are just better — and this is especially true when it comes to lunch.

After all, when you’re in the middle of a busy day, you need all the time-saving power that a meal in a bowl can provide. Here are 15 of our best one-bowl meals that are perfect for lunchtime.

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How do you turn traditional Waldorf salad into a full-fledged meal? By adding chickpeas for an extra dose of protein. Serve it on a bed of spinach or your favorite green, and you have a perfectly balanced meal.

(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

You can serve this Middle Eastern-inspired bowl for lunch or dinner, but we sometimes prefer to eat a heartier meal at lunch — especially when we have plans for a late dinner. Not only will it tide you over, but it will also keep you from eating a big meal so close to the time when you go to bed.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Not only is this meal served in one bowl, but it’s also prepared in one pan. The rice and chicken are cooked together, and then all you have to do is add your favorite canned beans, veggies, and plenty of toppings. Lunch is served in no time flat.

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Of course salads are the easiest lunches to eat out of a bowl, and there are some delicious ones out there. Case in point? This celery root salad with chicken from our no-lettuce salad series. It’s fresh and crunchy, and gives you a break from your normal salad routine.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

This recipe from fan-favorite chef Yotam Ottolenghi has one of the hallmarks of a good lunch recipe: taking leftovers and creating something completely new out of them. It’s worth the effort up front for a delicious meal to enjoy all week.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

You might be surprised to see a taco salad without any lettuce in it, but this version really puts the veggies front and center. The best part is that because all the ingredients are hearty, you can dress this salad at home before you take it to work. When lunchtime rolls around, you just need to add tortilla chips.

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Yes, we are definitively out of soup season, but for the occasional drizzly day or spring cold, we still crave a bowl of soup. This turkey wonton version has the right amount of salty broth and plump wontons to help brighten your day. Try making a batch and freezing it in individual servings.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Think of this salad as an updated tabbouleh recipe, but with more grains and heartier chunks of veggies and less herbs. Feel free to add in other seasonal veggies or top with a few crumbles of feta or another salty cheese.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

This salad is only prepared in a jar for portability; you’ll still need a bowl at the office to eat it from. The ingenious part about it is the way it’s layered — with the dressing and heartier ingredients like chicken and cucumbers on the bottom — so your lettuce doesn’t end up soggy by the time lunch rolls around.

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It’s the dressing that really makes this simple grain salad sing. With tahini, lemon juice, garlic, za’atar, and a few additional spices, you really can’t go wrong. All of the ingredients in this are hearty enough to last in your fridge, so go ahead and make up a big batch to enjoy for the week.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

If you have access to sushi-quality fish, you can easily add it to this bowl, but if you don’t, the veggies and rice are perfect on their own. The key is to cook the brown rice with a bit of ginger for an added kick, and make sure to make enough of the tangy miso dressing.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

You might not make millet that often, but once you try this recipe, we predict you’ll change your tune. This is an especially good meal to have in your back pocket for friends with dietary restrictions since it is both vegan and gluten-free.

(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

It’s a safe bet that you’ve mastered the basic quinoa bowl by now, served with roasted veggies and your favorite dressing. But this version with spicy fermented kimchi and umami-rich miso mushrooms takes things to a new level.

(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

Thanks to the fact that you can make polenta in the microwave, this satisfying lunch is within reach — even at the office. Roast the veggies ahead of time and add them toward the end of the cooking time for your polenta. It’s easy and will make your coworkers extremely jealous.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Use your favorite grain or mix of grains for this spring salad. If you make it in the window of time when asparagus season and Meyer lemon season overlap, opt for the slightly sweeter citrus. Otherwise, you can swap regular lemons in just fine.