15 Hot Lunch Ideas for Cold Weather

By Kelley Boymer
18 Jan 2023
Hot Lunch Ideas for Cold Weather

Jess and I recently laughed together at a group pizza night over our distaste for cold crunchy salads during the winter months. There’s something that just feels, wrong (?) about eating cold lettuce on bitterly cold winter day. So we decided a round-up of some warm, delicious lunch ideas to nourish our bodies was just the thing we needed.

Lunch is often an underrated meal and we find ourselves rushing through it to get back to our work and to do lists. But lunch is actually one of the most important meals of the day. Despite what our culture has taught us our whole lives, having your largest meal of the day at lunch has actually been proven to be much healthier than dinner. Eating a large lunch gives our bodies time to digest and helps us get through that afternoon slump. Hot lunches on cold weather days are a great way to warm up, get nourished and have something special to look forward to. There are so many great ways to meal prep for the week to plan for delicious, nutritious and easy to prep lunches, so you can take full advantage of your lunch break with something yummy to warm your heart and tummy.

These dark and cold winter days can begin to feel a bit bleak. Preparing a delicious, hot lunch is a great way to boost your mood on those chilly, dark days. Looking for hot dinner ideas? Check out our recent Easy Sheet Pan Dinners post and this round up of delicious soup recipes to try.

15 Hot Lunch Ideas for Cold Weather

Hot Sandwiches

BLT + Avocado

BLTs are a great yummy lunch option and the addition of the avocado is the cherry on top. It’s simple and easy to prepare (and dairy-free) and has the perfect combination of crunchy, juicy and flavorful tastes. Don’t forget the mayo, even better if you have some pesto laying around for pesto mayo. If you are a vegetarian skip the bacon and keep the lettuce, avocado and tomato. Try this BLATs recipe from Eating Well.

Tuna Melt

In elementary school, I used to walk to my grandmothers house after school each day. When I arrived she would have a tuna melt waiting for me. Her specialty was with pineapple under the melted oozey cheese. This was my absolute favorite! I still make them occasionally and it makes me feel so nostalgic for her and those special times together.

Tuna melts are a great warm lunch option for cold winter days. You can make your tuna with pickles, onions or celery. Make an open face sandwich on an English muffin with tuna, a slice of pineapple and cheddar cheese. Toast it in the oven and enjoy! Try this Hawaiian Tuna Melt recipe from Belle of the Kitchen.

Soups & Stews

Chicken Noodle Soup

Making a big pot of soup on Sunday is the best way to meal prep for your week ahead. This Chicken Soup recipe from Ambitious Kitchen is the perfect mixture of warm soupy goodness, packed with vegetables and spices including–ginger, turmeric and garlic and made with cous cous. Also a great soup to make and freeze for when the inevitable winter bug hits. Jess has shared some delicious chicken soup recipes in the past including this spicy chicken ramen and this vegetarian “chicken” noodle soup.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is as equally delicious and sweet as it is nutritious. Prep your soup ahead of time and make your grilled cheese fresh to enjoy and dip. The addition of the apple in this Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Grilled Cheese makes for such a yummy lunch that your little ones might just love too. The crunchiness of the apple in the grilled cheese makes for great dipping in the butternut squash soup and the spices in the soup– ginger, cumin and turmeric make it extra flavorful.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Kale

This Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is delicious! I love an orzo soup and the lemon flavor and addition of spinach in this soup makes it incredibly flavorful and healthy. It’s an easy soup to whip up on a cool winter day and bring vibrant flavors to your day!

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

This Hearty Chickpea and Spinach Stew is a hearty, filling recipe that is equally healthy and delicious. The addition of the chickpeas adds a hearty, thickness to the stew and the tomato paste brings in the savory notes.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

The Cozy Cook’s recipe for Chicken Enchilada Soup is the perfect feel-good warm soup for a cold winter day. If you’re looking for extra spice and flavor this is your recipe! The combination of green chiles, corn, black beans, enchilada sauce, chicken, cheese, broth and delicious seasonings is perfection.

Lentil and Quinoa Soup

Try this Smokey Lentil and Quinoa Soup from the Simple Veganista. It’s filling, nutrient dense and vegan!

Other Hot Lunch Ideas

Quiche

My neighbor kindly dropped off a delicious Sausage and Veggie Quiche a few weeks ago and shared the recipe with me. It is easy to whip up, throw in the oven and have lunch or breakfast prepared for the week! So yummy and nutritious with the combination of eggs, protein and delicious veggies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1/2 tsp. sage
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 cup sweet vadalia onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepper
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 6-7 eggs scrambled with milk
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake crust with chopped onions on bottom for 5 minutes. Saute sausage, peppers, mushrooms and spices. Drain any grease. Put all of the ingredients except cheese into crust on the top of onions. Put grated cheese on top. Cook at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Test with a knife– if any liquid shows, cook longer (up to about 10 minutes). Makes 8 servings.

Spinach & Feta Turkey Meatballs with Herbed Quinoa

Spinach & Feta Turkey Meatballs with Herbed Quinoa a great meal to prep ahead of time and reheat for lunch on the go!

Black Bean Quinoa Bowl

Try this Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans recipe from Bowl of Delicious for lots of flavor and spice!

Quesadillas

I made quesadillas for dinner the other night and forgot what an easy and delicious go to meal they make. We had leftovers for lunch the next day and it was equally as yummy as the night before. Buy some corn or flour tortillas and use cheddar, cotija or any other cheese of your choice. You can add ham, chicken or veggies like onions, peppers, tomatoes or squash to fill your quesadillas and mix with the cheese. Make some homemade salsa for dipping, sour cream, plain yogurt or guacamole. Yum!

Mac & Cheese Cups

I love the idea of these Mac & Cheese Cups and am definitely going to make them to send with my son for daycare lunches. I know he will love them and I’m sure my husband and I will love them too! Another great one to prep and make for the week ahead.

Savory Baked Oatmeal

I also have never considered oatmeal for lunch and love this savory take on it by adding veggies and baking for a quiche like finish. Try this Savory Baked Oatmeal recipe!

Cheesy Broccoli Fritters

These vegetarian Cheesy Broccoli Fritters make a great quick lunch to whip up midday or prep ahead of time. We recommend making a yummy sauce for dipping like a garlic herb sauce!

What are your favorite hot lunch ideas for cold weather? Let us know in the comments below.

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