29 Things That'll Speed Up Your Lunch-Making Process
That leaves you with *checks watch* about 45 more minutes to watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy.
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1. A microwave veggie steamer if you have approximately 10 minutes between meetings to make lunch and can't wait for a giant pot of water to boil. This collapsible silicone steamer heats and softens your veggies from raw or frozen in mere minutes so you actually have some time to enjoy a hot meal before opening up Zoom.
Promising review: "Hey, do you find it tedious to use a pot and colander to steam your veggies? Me freaking too. Bought this and the full-time single mom that I am living in a tiny space loves it. Steams frozen veggies in my microwave in six minutes. Easy clean up, no fuss, and compact. Only drawback is that it’s somewhat flimsy right out of the microwave (but to its credit it’s collapsible and hot so...still not a deal breaker for me). Just be careful!" —MargaritaMomDays
Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in two colors and two sizes).
2. A truly ~egg-celent~ rapid egg cooker that'll whip you up an omelette, poached egg, or hard-boiled egg without you ever having to dirty a pan. Reviewers even use it to steam frozen dumplings!
Promising review: "My husband just rolled his eyes when this was delivered to the house. Well, he isn’t rolling his eyes now! I like hard boiled eggs and these are PERFECT 🎶. Once you experiment with how long to leave them in the cooker, you have perfect eggs…every time. Hubby likes poached eggs — again, it's perfect. It also makes a small omelet, which I do with lots of filling for a light lunch. Love it, easy to clean, and doesn’t take up a lot of space and easy to store. All my kids have one now. Need I say more?" —Anna
Get it from Amazon for $16.99+ (available in five colors).
Check out my colleague's Dash Rapid Egg Cooker review for more deets!
3. Or a set of silicone egg poaching cups to make you the most picture perfect poached eggies — no yolk! Toss 'em on two slices of bread with avocado and some veggies for a heartier avo toast lunch, add them to salads, eat them over fried rice, and so much more.
Promising review: "I think this is the ultimate way to poach an egg. I have tried egg rings but the eggs just keep leaking out so that was a fail. The metal poacher is a headache to clean and always comes with a four slots. What if I want to cook just one egg? Still have to use the whole thing to just cook one, and that really is not a simple way. The silicone egg poacher, it’s simple, it’s fast, and silicone is safer than metal and plastic. The ring stander makes it steady for microwave cooking and in boiling water too. Just love them." —Happy cat
Get four from Amazon for $11.97.
4. A 7-in-1 Instant Pot so you can cook lunch in under 30 minutes — and have enough left over for dinner, too. Talk about efficiency!
This do-it-all kitchen appliance is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker and warmer.
Promising review: "Love love love my Instant Pot! I've had it for about four weeks and I use it about four to five times a week. I look online for different recipes and ideas how to use it. A lot of people say that it seems very overwhelming, but it's not bad at all. Just read the manual, look up recipes and ideas online, and try something simple like beans or rice for your first try. You'll get used to how it works. It's an awesome toy! I've made beans, rice, soups, roasts, whole chickens, cheese cakes, chili, homemade mac 'n' cheese, bone broth, etc. Everything tastes so much better in the Instant Pot!" —honeybee08
Get the six-quart Instant Pot from Amazon for $89.
5. A Souper Cube, a silicone freezing tray for storing perfectly portioned meals. Prep your lunch recipe ahead of time and freeze it in these trays so you can quickly grab 'em as needed and defrost for an easy mid-week lunch.
Each tray has four fill lines — 1/2 cup, 1 cup, 125 mL, and 250 mL — which is ideal for people who like to portion their food.
Promising review: "So happy that I found these. I’m the only one in my household who enjoys soup year-round. Have you ever tried to make homemade soup for one? I say it’s impossible! But no longer. I can brew up the stock pot with bone broth or my favorite home soup. Fill up my Souper Cubes, freeze, pop out, store my goodies in a freezer bag, and I’m ready for the next batch!" —Debbie R. Texas
Get it from Amazon for $19.95.
6. A manual food chopper because it can slice and dice fruits, veggies, herbs, boneless meats, and ice with ease so you can enjoy a more elaborate lunch without spending 30 minutes chopping all the ingredients.
It's also dishwasher-safe (top rack only!) so cleanup is easy peasy.
Promising review: "This is great for cutting lots of veggies super fast. All you have to do is rough chop down your veggies, toss them in, and give it four to five pulls for perfectly diced chunks for salsa or toppings on eggs or tacos. It comes with a handy cover too so all you have to do is rinse the blade and toss the container in the fridge or cooler." —Kevin B.
Get it from Amazon for $15.12+ (also available in green).
7. An Instant Pot air fryer if you want restaurant flavor and crunch without having to wait for the oven to pre-heat (and make your apartment really freaking hot). You can make all your faves — like chicken wings, crispy breaded eggplant, charred veggies, and even donuts — with this magical appliance. It's even great for reheating foods that usually get soggy in the microwave, like pizza!
Check out my colleague's Instant Pot Air Fryer review and I can basically guarantee you'll want one before you even finish the article.
Promising review: "After listening to dozens of clients and friends talk about their air fryers, I decided it was time to bite the bullet so to speak. Consumer Reports' rave reviews led me to the Instant Vortex Plus. I LOVE LOVE LOVE ❤️ IT! Everything seems to taste better cooked in an air fryer. Even salmon is more moist and flavorful. Plus food cooks more quickly than traditional oven or fryer methods. The Vortex is large capacity so it’s easy to cook two or more types of food at the same time. Do it...you won’t regret it!" —Rosanne Heideman
Get it from Amazon for $49.99+ (available in five styles).
8. A jar of za'atar, a deliciously complex Middle Eastern spice blend that'll speed up the lunch-making process because you just want to get straight to eating it. Instead of needing to prep 10 different spices for your bland boiled chicken, just marinate it in this pre-made mix of thyme, toasted sesame seeds, and sumac, and you'll have a mouthwatering lunch.
Z&Z is a family-owned business!
Promising review: "This za'atar is the best quality I have found. I've also found that the balance of sumac and thyme to be just right. This instantly spices up my boring meal prep food and I put it on my chicken, meats, salads, yogurt, or just in olive oil — basically it makes everything taste so much better. I highly recommend it!" —TC
Get it from Amazon for $9.99+ (available in two sizes).
9. A panini press to achieve perfect grill marks and a delicious char on your sandwiches, burritos, and quesadillas faster than it would take you to get in the car, drive to Panera, and pick it up. Plus, the top plate locks so you can also use it to toast your pizza and even bruschetta.
Promising review: "My wife and I love this! It's big enough to do both our sandwiches at the same time or two quesadillas if it's a tortilla folded in half. It heats up quickly and cleans up easily. The food we make using this tastes so much better than if you use a pan, and it's done so much faster. Overall it's just great! I would recommend this to family and friends. We use it several times a week on average and it has performed perfectly. When we're done it tucks away neatly." —Dominic B
Get it from Amazon for $34.99.
10. A heart-shaped mini waffle maker so you can realize your childhood dream of having fluffy waffles for every meal — including lunch (ummm savory waffles are a thing!). This lil' gadget weighs less than a pound, heats up in minutes, and also works with chaffles (low-carb cheese and egg waffles), paninis, hash browns, and even biscuit pizzas.
Promising review: "I bought this about a year and a half ago and completely forgot about it in the back of my pantry. Well, since we're all in quarantine, I've been doing some cleaning and I stumbled across my little waffle iron. I decided to finally give it a try and made a half dozen waffles, and I have to say, this thing worked great and cleaning wasn't difficult at all! Obvious tip: use the slightest bit of cooking oil spray (Pam) and the waffles come out perfectly every time!" —Tom M.
Get it from Amazon for $14.99+ (available in various styles).
Check out my colleague's Dash Mini Waffle Maker review, which she says turned her into a breakfast person.
11. A pack of reusable toaster bags for anyone who wants a grilled cheese ASAP and without dirtying every pan they own. Now you can make your ooey gooey sandwich in the toaster instead of creating a pile of dishes you know you won't get to until...well...we're not quite sure when you'll get to them.
These reusable bags are good for 50 to 100 washes and can hold pizza, chicken nuggets, and pastries. Plus they help prevent contamination if someone in the house can't eat gluten.
Promising review: "Who can say no to a mess-free toasted panini in under four minutes? Or frozen chicken nuggets or fish sticks... The sky is the limit with what you can fit into each of these toaster-safe bags. This is a late-night grilled cheese made in two minutes from heaven!!!" —Corey Guy Tremblay
Get a set of four from Amazon for $7.99.
12. Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel Seasoning because it makes a boring avocado toast into an exciting lunch in literally a few seconds. It's also great dusted on top of eggs, bagels, chicken, fish, veggies, and the list goes on.
My colleague swears by this simple mixture of sea salt, onion, and garlic. Check out her Everything But The Bagel Seasoning review for more deets.
Promising review: "Wow! Buy this. Just stop reading reviews and buy it now. Makes any dish better. I bought this over a week ago and have since used it on avocado toast, roasted veggies, crisped chickpeas, potato soup, grilled fish...just about everything!!! So delicious and no chemicals — just pure seasoning. Six stars!" —agora1031
Get it from Amazon for $3.99.
13. A Home Chef subscription if you want lunch fast — and by fast we mean recipes (and all the ingredients shipped to your door) that you can make in 15 minutes. They also offer ready-made meals in case you just don't have the time, energy, or inclination to cook lunch.
Enter our exclusive code BUZZFEEDHC60 to get $60 off ($15 on your first four boxes).
Why it's great: Home Chef's selection of recipes and ready-made meals changes weekly so your tastebuds can take a break from eating ramen five out of seven nights. It also offers custom meal plans like Ready in 15 (ingredients come pre-prepped so you can get dinner on the table in 15 minutes), Slow Cooker, and Entrée Salads so dinner is easy peasy lemon squeezy.
What else to know: Menus change weekly so you're always in for a delicious treat. And it's easy to customize your recipes; substitute proteins if you don't like the meat in the picture, or double the protein if you know that one serving isn't enough.
Availability: Home Chef currently ships to 98% of the US. Enter your zip code during sign-up and Home Chef will alert you if you are outside of its delivery range.
Prices: $6.99+/serving (choose from two or four servings)
Check out the Salmon with Brown-Butter Tomato Relish (left) and Acapulco Beef Burger (right) featured above and current menu selections here.
14. A variety pack of microwaveable A Dozen Cousins ready-to-eat seasoned beans that'll prove once and for all that there's a better option than a sad frozen, flavorless burrito for dinner. Or, use them to zhuzh up leftovers so you can finally clear some fridge space.
A Dozen Cousins is a Black-owned business founded by Ibraheem Basir and inspired by his the Creole, Caribbean, and Latin American flavors he ate growing up. The variety pack comes with Cuban Black Beans, Mexican Cowboy Pinto Beans, and Trini Chickpea Curry, Creole Red Beans, Refried Black Beans, and Classic Refried Pinto Beans.
Promising review: "Canned beans from my local supermarket are always a disappointment so I stopped getting them. I don't have time to cook beans myself but A Dozen Cousins beans are fresh and taste terrific. I am trying to eat healthier and these are a great way to do that. I've been trying to avoid packaged, processed foods but the natural ingredients make these different. I can feel good about eating them. The beans are whole and not mashed-up like in cans. All of the varieties are seasoned well and versatile. I've had them on their own, in salads and in wrap sandwiches. I'm really happy to have found these and hope they continue to add new flavors and products. Do yourself a favor and order some. You won't regret it." —Amazon Customer
Get a pack of six from Amazon for $24.99.
My coworker Marquaysa Battle has taste-tested these beans and swears by 'em! Check out her A Dozen Cousins review for her thoughts.
15. A microwave pasta cooker to save the day when you want soft, cheesy, noodly carbs but don't want the hassle of boiling water, cleaning a giant pot, and struggling to strain your noods without spilling hot water everywhere.
Read our Fasta Pasta Microwave Cooker review (#2 on the list)!
Promising review: "I bought this microwave pasta cooker at a time when I did not have a stove. Even though I have a stove now, I still use this cooker for dinner for myself sometimes because it works so well and quickly! Be careful and read instructions carefully as you must leave the top off while cooking it. There are lines to indicate how much water to put in the cooker versus the amount of pasta you intend to cook. The pasta comes out very soft and perfectly cooked when instructions are followed. When the pasta is done, the lid is used to drain the cooker of water and works very well. I highly recommend this to any college student or adult who needs a fast microwave pasta cooker!" —Kelsi
Get it from Amazon for $16.99.
16. A breakfast sandwich maker so you can make a hearty BEC (no one says they're only reserved for breakfast!) instead of spending precious time making each part individually.
Promising review: "It is perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 'fast' meals. I fix bacon in the microwave, and it cooks the egg, melts the cheese on bagels, English muffins, hamburger buns, and other round breads. If I had one with squares I would make sandwiches like grilled cheese and ham. It can even cook a round omelet!" —Bonita
Get it from Amazon for $24.99.
17. A genius measuring cube for saving you time by not having to switch between different sets of measuring spoons and cups. This cube packs 19 measuring devices into one! And it's microwave- and dishwasher-safe.
18. A reliable electric tea kettle because waiting for water to boil on the stove is just time you do not have. This kettle makes seven cups of piping hot water in minutes, so your instant meals, pasta, ramen, soup, and oatmeal are ready so much faster. Also, how cute is that minty green color?
My colleague Emma Lord owns one and loves it. In her own words:
"Psst — my parents own this same model and I can attest to how fast and safe it is! We've got some very impatient tea drinkers in our house and this will do a full kettle boil, enough for about four or five generous cups, in just a few minutes."
Promising review: "I'm so glad I picked this one. The mint green is a really nice color. Kinda like a light mint-aqua and matches perfect in my kitchen. This time of year I drink a lot of hot tea so this teapot is great. It heats the water super fast and stays warm to enjoy multiple cups. When I'm done, I make sure to empty the water out and I leave the top open so it air dries. The water tastes like water to me, there isn't any taste that comes off." —K.M.
Get it from Amazon for $39.99.
19. A garlic press if you're still chopping every clove by hand. There aren't many dishes that wouldn't benefit from the addition of garlic and this press removes all the inconveniences of mincing it so you really have no excuse to *not* toss some garlic into the pan. Your tastebuds will thank you!
20. The ~Guac-Lock~ that'll preserve your precious avocados for lunches throughout the week (because when they're ripe and ready for eating, they need to be prepped that instant). This container pushes out the air that causes your avos to oxidize so you can enjoy guac and mashed avocados for toast for days without browning.
Promising review: "I love guacamole, but I'm the only person in my house that will eat it. Making guacamole for one is a waste of time, but making a standard recipe always ended up being a waste of guacamole. Enter the GuacLock. This DISHWASHER-SAFE (!!!!) kitchen gadget truly delivers! To be honest, I was skeptical and didn't expect much. I made guacamole three days ago and have enjoyed it every night since. No gross brown color. No off taste. On day three it was just as fresh as the day it was made. I've shared this product on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat; I feel like all of my friends need to know about this one. If you're actually reading reviews and trying to decide whether or not to add this to your cart. Stop. Just do it! You won't regret this purchase." —Allison Horis
Get it from Amazon for $19.99.
21. A microwave- and dishwasher-safe steaming tray to cook your fish and veggies at the same time and faster than it'll take the oven to heat up.
22. A silicone baking mat so you can get straight to eating instead of giving yourself an arm cramp as an appetizer because you're scrubbing so hard to remove the cheese that oozed out of your mozz sticks and is now burned to the ban. Reviewers say mess just slides right off these nonstick baking mats.
Promising review: "I like to do what I can to reduce my carbon footprint but I don't want to make my life unnecessarily difficult or ineffective. These mats allow me to eliminate the use of foil or parchment paper on my baking sheets, thereby saving money and being that much less potential product in the landfill. So far I have baked breadsticks and roasted vegetables on them, and they work like a charm. The heat distribution is great and they're nonstick without using spray or oil. If I had a complaint, it would be that they're a little hard to clean by hand due to how bendy and flexible they are and the fact that oil and grease seems to want to stick to it like a magnet. It isn't a big deal, though, and I'll be buying more of these." —Michelle Daniels
Get a set of two from Amazon for $9.63.
23. A prep-and-pour cutting board for transferring your ingredients straight from the board to the pan. Now you don't have to make multiple trips from the counter to the stove. Plus that annoying thing that happens where you scoot the ingredients into the pan with your knife except the board is too wide for the pan and some of your chopped tomatoes spill off the side and onto the floor and now you have to clean that up — yeah, that won't happen with this.
Promising review: "I love the convenience of this cutting board. You can cut up small portions of vegetables without dirtying up a big cutting board. Easy to put veggies on a salad. My kitchen is small, so this is perfect." —Carol Martin
Get it from Amazon for $8.10+ (available in three sizes and five colors).
24. A *super* compact eight-in-one spiralizer because you *can* have zoodles for lunch with grated cheese on top and fresh-squeezed juice to wash it all down.
BuzzFeed editor Emma Lord can't stop raving about this thing. In her own words:
"I recently purchased this because it was my cheapest option for making zoodles, and also because my apartment is the size of a shoebox and there was no room for anything bigger. I LOVE how easy it is to swap out the caps to do other things, too — I've started grating my own cheeses and feel very fancy. But mostly I just love that it's very safe to use (it comes with a finger guard!), super easy to figure out, very compact, and even has measurements on the inside of the cup if you're ever portioning things out for a recipe."
Promising review: "LOVE THIS. I absolutely love this. So far I've used the thicker spiralizer, two of the grater things, and then the juicer. I love how easy this makes keeping everything together. And it's sharp so it actually cuts through things without you needing to work super hard to do it. The only thing I don't love is that the spiralizers are a bit hard to clean, but I guess that's with all of them? Not sure, this is the first I've owned. But, overall I'd recommend it :)" —Amazon Customer
Get it from Amazon for $14.99.
25. A veggie dicer if chopping mushrooms, peppers, onions, and squash by hand isn't how you want to spend your precious lunch hour. Half your veg, place them over the sharp blades, and push down on the chopper. Your uniformly cut ingredients will all fall neatly into the collection tray underneath.
Promising review: "Use often. Works well. Love that I can quickly chop up vegetables to the same size so they cook more evenly. Especially love if I’m doing a lot of onions for food prep. Note: does not work on tomatoes for those wondering. I give a quick rinse with hot water to clean up and air dry." —Lte
Get it from Amazon for $26.99.
26. A three-in-one avocado slicer that'll quickly become the only thing you want to talk about with your coworkers during that painfully awkward two minutes or so before a meeting begins. This splits, pits, and slices your avocado in seconds, and will save you from avocado hand (it's a real thing! Google it!).
Promising review: "So worth the space in the kitchen! This thing really does what it says. I love mine and use it all the time. Pit removal is super easy with this, no more knife-prying. I didn't think the cutting tool would be as effective as it is, but it works great as well. No complaints on this product — would buy again!" —K. Cyr
Get it from Amazon for $9.99.
27. A personal-sized NutriBullet to effortlessly grind all the fruits and veggies you throw in it with the result being a deliciously creamy smoothie. Lunch doesn't get much quicker than that!
28. An egg timer so you can go work on other parts of lunch instead of standing next to a pot of boiling water trying to guess if the yolk will be too runny or too hard. This timer floats when your eggs are ready and sings a little tune so you're not wasting time or eggs.
Brainstream is a small business started by engineer and inventor Dr. Rupprecht Gabriel.
Promising review: "Perfect eggs. Hard boiled, soft boiled, and medium boiled. Plus, silly songs to make you smile and to tell you when ready. When you order, please note, different colors play different songs. Surprise someone with this." —Nora
Get it from The Grommet for $19.95 (also available in red).
29. A microwave rice cooker for steaming rice, polenta, and couscous in one step instead of 15. With this, you just stick it in the microwave and walk away.
Promising review: "I have always made rice on the stove. Of course, rice is easy to make and I thought maybe this would be a silly purchase that would end up in the closet with all the other silly kitchen things I never use. Not a chance! Making rice in this thing is so easy and fast — and clean up is so, so easy — I may never use a pot again. Highly recommended!" —Bobby's Girl
Get it from Amazon for $35.15.