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16 Low-Key Genius Hacks, Tips, And Tricks For The Next Time You Make Lunch

These are cheap, fast, filling โ€” and pretty impossible to mess up.

This school year looks different for many students. Instead of eating lunch in a cafeteria, many are now making their mid-day meals at home. If you're busy, hungry, and don't want to spend forever in the kitchen, try out some of these easy lunch tips, tricks, and hacks. ๐Ÿœ

1. Cut down on cleanup by making eggs in the microwave. Add leftover veggies and you've got a quick, high-protein lunch.

Marie Telling/BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

If you're looking for a quick meal, there's no wrong time of day to eat eggs. Make this with whatever veggies, cheese, or protein (like leftover rotisserie chicken) you have โ€” so it's easy to mix it up for variety. Best of all, it takes about five minutes and you don't even need to wash the pan afterwards.

Recipe: Microwave Scrambled Eggs with Veggies and Avocado

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2. If you don't want to wait for a big pot of water to boil, you can cook pasta in the microwave, too.

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It's just a matter of getting the water ratio right. After that, just fold in any add-ins you want. This Trader Joe's version with marinara sauce, pre-cooked chicken sausage, and cheese is super affordable.

Recipe: Microwave Mug Pasta With Sausage & Tomato

3. Or make a loaded, fiber-rich sweet potato in the microwave โ€” in way less time than it would take in the oven.

Marie Telling/BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

Microwaving a sweet potato takes about seven minutes, but you can even prep and make a few at the beginning of the week to cut down on time. This one's filled with bacon, broccoli, and cheese, but again: use what you have! Like black beans, avocado, or a 5-minute fried egg.

Recipe: Microwave Loaded Sweet Potato

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4. Turn your favorite boxed mac 'n' cheese into a fancy lunch with the help of just a few ingredients.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed / Via tasty.co, Hannah Loewnetheil/BuzzFeed / Via tasty.co

Grab our favorite box of mac 'n' cheese (or even the microwaveable kind) and add some extra cheese, veggies, and protein. Within minutes, you get a comforting lunch that tastes homemade.

Recipe: Easiest Mac 'n' Cheese Upgrades

5. If you're really pressed for time, meal-prep sandwiches and freeze them for a grab-and-go meal.

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Most sandwiches โ€” like PB&J, ham and cheese, tuna salad, turkey, or salami โ€” can be made in advance and frozen. You'll just want to avoid sandwich fillings with a high water content โ€” like tomatoes or cucumber โ€” because they don't defrost well. Prepare your sandwiches in advance and freeze them in little baggies. Thaw overnight or in the oven, wrapped in foil.

Tutorial: How to Make Freezer Sandwiches

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6. If you use a tortilla as the crust, you can make a shortcut personal pizza in just a few minutes.

Fresh April Flours / Via freshaprilflours.com

Start with a burrito-sized flour tortilla and top it with marinara sauce and cheese or really, any of your favorite pizza toppings. Bake it in the oven for five minutes until the tortilla is crispy and the cheese is melted.

Recipe: Five-Minute Tortilla Pizza

7. You can use naan or halved French bread as the crust, too.

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Top it with anything from prosciutto and arugula to tomato sauce and mozzarella. It doesn't get much easier than that.

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8. Turn a basic can of tomato soup into a ~sophisticated~ lunch by adding condiments or fresh herbs.

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A $2 can of Campbell's creamy tomato soup can go a very long way. Some simple ingredients โ€” like chili oil, crรจme fraรฎche, pine nuts, frozen tortellini, or fresh basil โ€” can make it taste totally fancy.

9. Boil-bake a dozen eggs at once in the oven โ€” and keep them in the fridge to use all week in sandwiches, salads, and more.

Wholesome Yum / Via wholesomeyum.com

One of the most hands-off ways to batch-cook eggs is to "boil" them in the oven. Place one egg in each cup of a muffin tin and bake at 325ยฐF. If you like runny soft-boiled eggs, cook for about 22 minutes. For hard-boiled eggs, cook for closer to 30 minutes. (Want them faster? Try the Instant Pot method.)

Tutorial: How To Boil-Bake Eggs In The Oven

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10. Speaking of eggs, you can meal prep egg muffin cups and store them in the freezer for future lazy lunches.

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You'll need a muffin tin, whisked eggs, and any of your favorite add-ins โ€” like cooked bacon, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and shredded cheese. These muffin cups keep in the fridge for four days, but you can also freeze them for two months and quickly defrost in the microwave.

Recipe: Egg Muffins Three Ways

11. Make an easy "sushi stack" with canned tuna + leftover rice + toppings.

Chelsea's Messy Apron / Via chelseasmessyapron.com

Layer rice, tuna, and your favorite toppings like mango, avocado, scallions, and spicy mayo for an easy, DIY-take on sushi.

Recipe: Tuna "Sushi" Stacks

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12. Keep a $5 rotisserie chicken in your fridge and you'll have dozens of easy meals at your disposal.

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There's no shortage of quick lunches you can make with a cheap rotisserie chicken. Think: buffalo chicken wraps, chicken fried rice, chicken ramen, or shredded chicken nachos.

Here's a full list of recipes that start with a grocery store rotisserie chicken.

13. Whip up the easiest 15-minute carbonara by stirring an egg yolk directly over cooked pasta.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

All you need is spaghetti (or your favorite noodle), pancetta or bacon, cheese, and eggs. Instead of whisking the egg and combining it with Parmesan to make a sauce, just crack an egg directly over the pasta as soon as you take it off the flame. The yolk will continue to cook through, but it will still taste runny and decadent.

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14. Freeze fruits and veggies in little baggies, then dump them into the blender with milk or juice for a two-minute smoothie.

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You can even freeze ingredients like almond butter, chia seeds, or chocolate chips with your fruits and veggies. Just add your favorite liquid like oat milk, coconut milk, or orange juice and blend.

15. Turn $1 instant ramen into a satisfying soup by adding just about whatever is in your fridge.

Taylor Miller/BuzzFeed / Via tasty.co

Feel free to get creative here. Once you've heated up instant ramen according to package directions, add some veggies, protein, and if you're feeling fancy: a soft-boiled, fried, or poached egg.

Here's a list of recipes to upgrade your instant ramen.

16. Prep and freeze burritos for an on-the-go lunch that you'll crave all the time.

Fit Foodie Finds / Via fitfoodiefinds.com

Pick a grain (like rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice), a protein (shredded rotisserie chicken or ground beef), veggies, and cheese. Prep all of the ingredients ahead of time, roll them up in tortillas, wrap with foil, and freeze individually. To quickly defrost, just pop a frozen burrito into the microwave for two minutes.

Recipe: Make-Ahead Freezer Burritos

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