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If you’ve been social distancing and working from home for a couple of weeks now, chances are you’re starting to miss a few things about pre-quarantine work life: coffee shop coffee, hanging out with friends, the daily commute to the office or a lunch that isn’t last night’s leftovers.
If you’re used to popping out for a mid-day break and grabbing your favourite sandwich or treating themselves to a soup from a local café, there are still ways you can up your work from home lunch experience to make things a bit more fun.
We’ve rounded up five of our favourite things to add a bit of excitement to your workday lunches below.
If sandwiches from your favourite café feel like a distant memory, you can achieve restaurant-level sandwiches with an at-home panini press. An affordable investment, you can customize your lunch according to your favourite combinations and grill at home. This press is loved for its non-stick grids and quick heating elements.
Shopper review: “I love my Hamilton Beach panini maker! I have been getting more usage out of this than I thought I would. My 17-year-old son has been making paninis non-stop since I bought it months ago. It heats up fast and makes great-tasting paninis. It is also very easy to clean with a quick wipe down and it’s good to go! There is also a lock on the lid which makes it easy to keep closed and stored upright. I love everything about it. It is definitely a great value for this fab machine!”
SHOP IT: Canadian Tire, $40 (originally $70)
You’ve likely heard of the Instant Pot before but this small kitchen appliance is a powerhouse in terms of its capabilities. It can make restaurant-quality butter chicken, yogurt, ramen and pancakes with the click of a couple buttons. With built-in programs, this pressure cooker takes the work out of homemade cooking. Fans warn that you’ll never want to use your stovetop or oven again.
Shopper review: “If you buy this device, be prepared to want to cook with it every day! I constantly find myself thinking ‘what can I cook in this god-sent device?’ It is so speedy! At first you'll be skeptical because it is a pressure cooker, but you get more comfortable with it. The pot is very easy to use and to clean. You will love it. Highly recommend.”
Craving a fast-food lunch? The Insignia Digital Air Fryer delivers on all of your favourite fried flavours without the unhealthy oils. Making it easier and less messy to recreate fried food, this air fryer delivers big flavour and fried foods you can feel good about. With overheating protection and easy-to-clean accessories, this fryer is loved for its healthy approach to meals and quick cooking settings.
Shopper review: “I am very impressed with the Insignia Air Fryer. I've cooked bone in/skin on chicken breasts, wings, bacon, steak and roasted potatoes. Everything has been delicious. It cooks fast and is very easy to clean.”
SHOP IT: Best Buy, $150
Do you aspire for restaurant-level rice but always end up with a soggy, mushy mess? Enter the Instant Pot Rice Cooker, a fool-proof approach to making rice and various other lunchtime staples such as boiled eggs and soup. The Instant Pot Rice Cooker is loved for its non-stick interior and fuss-free food prep.
Shopper review: “Absolutely love this cooker. I use it to make brown rice, white rice, oatmeal and I even steam veggies in it. They come out perfect and as a busy mom, being able to set it, leave it and come back to a finished product is a huge plus.”
SHOP IT: Canadian Tire, $40
Perfect for preparing meals any time of day, this All-Clad Slow Cooker makes it easy to whip up restaurant-quality soups, stews and chilis. Use what was once your commuting time to simply add all ingredients to the pot before your workday begins and bask in the delicious aroma of your favourite soup brewing just in time for lunch. This slow cooker is loved for its removable ceramic insert, making it versatile and truly one-pot cooking.
Shopper review: “Outstanding! This is by far the best slow cooker I've ever owned. The insert makes it so easy to go from stove top (browning meats, sautéing vegetables) to the cooker. Clean up is an absolute snap...nothing sticks! I find the temp controls to be right on. Have owned it for three years now with no problems at all.”
SHOP IT: Nordstrom, $374 (originally $598)