Brown Rice to Quinoa: 5 Staple Bases for Great Lunches

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

One approach to quick, easy lunches that still break out of bored routine is to start the week with just one pot of a basic ingredient, like brown rice. Then top this base with something different every day. Here are five of our favorite lunch bases to have around.

  1. Brown or white rice – As we said yesterday in this post on cooking brown rice, it’s one of our favorite easy lunches. A little bowl of brown rice with chopped scallions, some sesame oil, and a piece of fruit is a very satisfying lunch.
  2. Quinoa – Like brown rice, quinoa is a totally satisfying grain to eat for lunch. Here’s how to cook it, and a recipe for a fresh quinoa tabbouleh that can be mixed with seasonal vegetables.
  3. Sweet potato – What about a roasted sweet potato for lunch? (Or even breakfast!) Roast two or three sweet potatoes on Sunday evening, then take one in your lunch with a little cheese, some leftover pasta sauce, or a slice of chicken.
  4. Lentils or beans – Like the quinoa or brown rice, lentils and beans can be made ahead of time and dressed up with bits and pieces of leftovers in the fridge. They are high in protein and fiber, and really delicious too. Try these herbed lentils with bacon.
  5. Pasta – Can’t beat pasta, of course! This is probably our favorite base for a solid lunch. Top pasta with a simple poached egg, some leftover greens from last night’s salad, or just a few nuts and some cheese. Or make it into a freeform pasta casserole. Make sure to toss the cooked pasta with plenty of olive oil to keep it from sticking to itself in the fridge.

What are your favorite make-ahead staples for a week of lunches?

(Images: Sarah Rae Trover; Faith Durand; Emily Ho;