15 Old Fashioned Lunch Recipes – Eat This Not That


Making time for a hot breakfast is a luxury most of us don’t have. Sure, we can head to Panera for a bowl of soup, but spending money every day on restaurant food adds up quickly. Factor in the time it takes to pick up the food — or the cost of delivery — and it’s usually a sad office lunch for most people. But don’t let eating deter you from having something healthy and delicious. In fact, take a cue from the past and try these easy-to-make, old-fashioned breakfast recipes.

Our parents and grandparents ate these foods for good reasons. Most are filling and quick to prepare, or they can be made ahead and reheated or enjoyed cold. Another advantage is that most of them are very affordable. While a bowl of chicken soup at Panera will set you back almost $8, all of these foods can be prepared for much less and can be customized for today’s healthier palates. So dive into lunch the old-fashioned way and save your money for a well-deserved happy hour cocktail. Plus, don’t miss 15 old-fashioned cooking tips you should never use, experts say.

Courtesy of the seasoned mom

The history of the egg salad sandwich is murky, but most agree that people have been using eggs in salads for centuries. Nobody knows exactly when someone first tossed hard-boiled eggs with a creamy dressing, but the egg salad sandwich as we know it was invented some time after mayonnaise was invented in the end. from the 1700s.

Egg salad is super easy and cheap to make, and most people have the ingredients on hand. Try replacing some of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt to reduce fat and increase protein. You can even toss in a salad if you want to forego the bread.

Get the seasoned mom’s egg salad recipe.

your sandwiches

While Brits can still enjoy these adorable little bites with the crust cut out, in America they’re not really a thing, but they should be. Try cucumber with cream cheese and fresh herbs, smoked salmon with cream cheese or tomato with butter. As always, choose whole wheat bread to add fiber.

Get the 25 best tea sandwiches from Insanely Good Recipes.

ham salad sandwiches
Courtesy expenses with pennies

It’s no surprise that the ham salad was invented to get rid of holiday ham leftovers. Although it can also be made with super cheap canned ham, and the mayonnaise and seasonings probably make it taste better. Don’t stop at ham, take a page from the past and grab leftover meat or fish to make a satisfying sandwich for lunch.

Get Spend With Pennies recipe for ham salad.

Courtesy dinner at the zoo

Apparently, three-bean salad was very popular in the 1950s, although the exact origin is unknown. What is known is that this salad usually combined red, waxed and green beans with chopped onions and dressing. The salad kept longer because it didn’t include mayonnaise, so it was perfect for picnics. Feel free to break the mold and experiment with different grains to make your own blend. It’s a great high-protein, high-fiber side dish with a sandwich, though it’s also tasty and filling on its own.

Get the Dinner at the Zoo recipe for Three Bean Salad.

Low calorie quiche with spinach and ham
Mitch Mandel and Thomas McDonald

Quiche is basically a baked egg tart. Scrambled egg mixture and vegetables and/or cheese are cooked inside an edible crust. Most sources say that while quiche originated in Germany, it became popular with the French classic Quiche Lorraine. Wherever it comes from, it is delicious at lunch, hot or cold, with a green salad. You can always make a crustless quiche if you want to reduce some carbs.

The best part about a quiche is that when you know the general recipe, you can add whatever leftovers you have on hand. Lunch is served!

Get our easy spinach and ham quiche recipe.

waldorf salad recipe
Courtesy of Lil’ Luna

The Waldorf salad is another one of those weird salads that aren’t salad at all. It is usually a mixture of apples, celery and mayonnaise, sometimes with nuts. According to the story, it was first created by the butler of the Waldorf-Astoria, hence its name. The sweet, crunchy and nutty blend is the perfect blend of flavors; add less mayonnaise and a bit of avocado to boost your healthy fats. Or try a deconstructed Waldorf salad like the one below.

Get Lil’ Luna’s recipe for Waldorf salad.

Tuna noodle casserole

Tuna noodle casserole is said to have become popular during World War II when Campbell used his Cream of Mushroom Soup to make it. However, a combination of fish and cream sauce has been enjoyed since the 1800s. Bring this casserole into the 21st century by skipping the condensed soup and making an easy bechamel sauce. You can also use zucchini noodles for a low carb approach. Chicken of the Sea has a great updated recipe that uses light coconut milk and a little cornstarch to thicken the zoodle-based casserole.

Get Chicken of the Sea’s recipe for Garden Zoodles Tuna Casserole.

rarebit welsh recipe

Welsh rarebit (or rabbit) is a toasted bread dish covered in a creamy beer and cheese sauce. It’s simple and filling – just add a vegetable to balance it all out. It dates back to 1785 in Britain, so it’s definitely a throwback dish. Warm and satisfying, it’s a must! (PS No bunny is harmed for this quick lunch and no one is quite sure why it’s sometimes called a bunny.)

The recipe for Get Hungry, Happy, Healthy for Welsh Rarebit.

pinwheel sandwiches

Who doesn’t love adorable little wraparound wraps? You can flatten the bread to make them with a rolling pin, or use a wrap to save time. The beauty of these sandwiches is that the filling is rolled into every bite. Make a few different ones over the weekend, then put a variety in your lunch bag.

Get Bake It With Love’s recipe for Pinwheel Sandwiches.

vegan stew
Courtesy of our merry mess

Everyone loves soup for lunch, especially on a fall day, but a stew is heartier and doesn’t need a sandwich or side dish to make it a meal. What is the difference between a soup and a stew? A stew contains less liquid and the components are cooked in just enough liquid. Of course, with a stew you have to plan ahead, but it’s ready when you are. And if you tend to be hungry, that’s very important. Beef stew is the classic, but go vegetarian or vegan and you’ll have a hot, healthy meal ready to go.

Get our Happy Mess recipe for Vegan Stew.

Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes
Mitch Mandel and Thomas McDonald

Why was this dish relegated to the cafeteria? This Sloppy Joe story is murky, but sometime after the 1930s, someone added tomato sauce to a loose meat sandwich, and this beloved messy dish was born. Again, making this vegetarian or using lean meat may be the upgrade that brings it back to the top of the lunch list.

Get our recipe for Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes.

beans on toast
Courtesy of Messy Chelsea Apron

Yes, this one is simple, and that’s the beauty of an old-fashioned lunch. This British classic isn’t big in the US, but with its high fiber content, it should be! Experiment with different beans to see which one you like the most.

Get Chelsea’s messy apron recipe for beans on toast.

homemade fish sticks
Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

A staple on children’s plates since the 1950s, fish sticks had an interesting start in a Bird’s Eye factory. Apparently they were the result of an overabundance of fish and new freezing techniques. When the original plan failed to freeze the fish in blocks so that housewives could cut off as many as they needed for the day, the individual fish stick was born. Today, bloggers have made this convenience food healthier and tastier.

Get How Sweet Eats’ recipe for Homemade Fish Fingers.

Stuffed tomatoes

Stuffing vegetables has been a thing for a long time; almost every cuisine has some form of stuffed vegetable dish. During the low carb food craze, we figured out how to turn everything into low carb edible bowls. Tomatoes are especially good for lunch because they can be stuffed raw with the salads mentioned above, so go crazy.

Get the recipe from 2 Sisters’ Recipes for White Bean Salad Stuffed Tomatoes.

Paleo Oven Fried Chicken
Mitch Mandel and Thomas McDonald

Most fried foods taste terribly cold, but fried chicken is surprisingly delicious. Southern Kitchen theorizes that when fried chicken cools, the skin shrinks and bonds to the meat. The skin is then slightly separated from the crispy crust, keeping it crispy. They also suggest turning the chicken into a chicken salad. Anyway, it’s great for lunch. And if you have leftover fast food chicken, don’t hesitate either!

Get our Oven Fried Crispy Chicken recipe.

cheese sandwich

No, no grilled cheese, just cheese. Hard cheese doesn’t spoil very quickly at room temperature, and it also tastes better slightly softened, making it a natural sandwich. Obviously, stay away from soft cheeses and always follow the food safety precautions for your particular cheese. The recipe below uses tangy chutney to balance out the creamy cheese and a bunch of veggies for texture and nutrition.

Get Hungry, Happy, Healthy’s recipe for an epic cheese sandwich.

Remember, lunch doesn’t have to be an extravagant or expensive affair to be the perfect mid-day break. Try these easy, easy-to-modify recipes to make your own meal with what you have on hand. You never know, something old might turn out to be your new weekday favorite.

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Rozella J. Cook