Queen of the Microwave

Chowish options for workplace lunch are typically limited by equipment—most office kitchens don't have much more than a refrigerator and a microwave. What can you do? "I have become the self-proclaimed queen of the microwave," says hyacinthgirl. "I most often will make myself an egg sandwich. I scramble eggs, microwave them in a bowl, toast some bread, cut up some tomatoes and basil, and voilà. On some days, I include a side of vegetarian sausage, microwaved, or, when I want to torture my coworkers, I microwave some bacon. I also will keep a can of black beans on hand, microwave those, and add some taco seasoning. Add salsa, lettuce, sour cream, and you either have a taco salad or a veggie burrito. Works wonderfully, especially on my whole wheat high fiber tortilla."

"Keep potatoes in your drawer and frozen Birds Eye veggies in cheese sauce in the freezer," says cgarner. "Bake the potato in the microwave ... split open the potato, top with the veggies and cheese sauce, and VIOLA (lol) you have a healthy hot lunch." Much better than instant ramen! "Couscous is also easy to do at work," says Emme. "Heat water, pour over couscous, and let sit for 5 minutes. Add frozen veggies if on hand, some dressing, or oil and vinegar."

"If you can invest the time to make a batch of Asian peanut sauce at home (or you know a good jarred brand), you can soak rice noodles in hot water, then stir in peanut sauce for—tada!—peanut noodles!" says 4Snisl. "There are shelf-stable tofu blocks you can dice in, plus you can stir in coleslaw mix, which wilts down pretty quickly in hot noodles (or you can nuke them a little to give them a jump start)." Or "open a can of chickpeas, drain, open a jar of Patak's simmer sauce, stir it into the chickpeas, and microwave easily. I'll often throw handfuls of spinach into this mix to wilt. Serve over precooked rice," says 4Snisl.

And how about an instant shepherd's pie? "I used to make instant mashed potatoes (one of the 'just add hot water' varieties, like Idahoan), and use it to top off a warmed-up bowl of Campbell's Chunky Soup," says 4Snisl. "My favorite kind was the one with the mini 'sirloin burger' patties."

Discuss: Hot Lunch at your Desk