Quick Comfort Food

Sure, PB and J is a lunchtime favorite, and cold-cut sandwiches couldn't be easier. Even the kids could slap together two pieces of bread and call it "lunch." Break out of your lunch recipe rut and make a little midday magic with these five warm lunch ideas that recapture that cozy, comfort-of-home feeling.

Quesadillas

Quesadillas

The only absolute requirements are tortillas and cheese. Any kind of cheese will do. Sprinkle, spread or layer the cheese on one tortilla, top with whatever other ingredients you happen to have, top with a second tortilla, and slide onto a frying pan. Cook on medium high heat for 2 minutes, flip and cook until melted inside. Slice into wedges. Garnish as desired and enjoy!

Open-faced toasted sandwiches

Turn up the heat on cold sandwiches! Between two thick pieces of bread, put some leftover cooked chicken or roast, a piece of cheese and maybe a few diced tomatoes. Two minutes under the broiler, and voila! Perfectly warm sandwiches that can be enjoyed no matter what the weather is outside.

Soup

Hearty, warm and healthful soups provide the perfect nutritional balance for your midday meal. Prepare your soups ahead of time so all you have to do when midday hunger hits is heat, serve and enjoy.

Pasta

Pasta is amazingly versatile. Heat plain noodles and toss with butter and parmesan for a quick, easy (and inexpensive) lunch. Throw in a bit of whatever else looks appetizing in the pantry or refrigerator, too: Steamed veggies, leftover cream-of-something soup, that little bit of Greek salad, a handful of spinach or a few mushrooms... If you have leftovers, you have a gourmet lunch waiting to happen.

Rice

Steamed rice has just as many possibilities as pasta when paired with your favorite cooked chicken or beef. You could even go vegan and serve up your favorite brown or white rice with steamed vegetables in a tasty sauce such as teriyaki. Or pour on the beans and delight in the eclectic texture of black beans and rice.

Serve up comfort and warmth at lunchtime or any time with these easy, no-fuss ideas.

Tags: budget meals

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