11 Healthy Grain Bowls That Make Effortless Lunches

Seeking a simple, good-for-you lunch that's more substantial than a salad? Grain bowls are the answer.

Photo: Ryan Liebe

We're always on the lookout for lunches that are filling enough to get us through the workday but not so heavy that we're fighting a food coma all afternoon. One dish that always does the trick? Grain bowls! They're healthy, satisfying, and the different layers of flavors and textures mean lunch is never boring. We also love how versatile they are -- grain bowls are a great way to use up leftover veggies and proteins. Plus, they're so easy to put together that you might find yourself whipping them up for dinner, too. Here, our favorite homemade grain bowls that keep us coming back for more.

1. Roasted Sweet Potato and Farro Salad

Just the thing for fall! Toss caramelized sweet potatoes, chewy farro, fresh dill, and grassy sprouts with a zesty roasted garlic-lemon sauce.


2. Roast-Chicken Grain Bowl

Team juicy lemon chicken with earthy bulgur for a hearty lunch. The addition of grated beets and carrots, shredded beet greens, and tangy Greek yogurt makes it a perfectly balanced meal.

Marcus Nilsson

3. Savory Breakfast Bowl

Breakfast for lunch? You bet! Toothsome barley is the perfect base for charred tomatoes, kale, ripe avocado, soft-boiled eggs, crunchy cucumber, and creamy Greek yogurt.

Marcus Nilsson

4. Burrito Bowl

We have yet to meet someone who doesn't love this endlessly customizable Tex-Mex classic. Layer the grains, beans, and proteins of your choice, then top with romaine lettuce, sliced radishes, fresh salsa, toasted pepitas, and a creamy avocado dressing that's flat out habit-forming.

saffron chickpeas quinoa
Con Poulos

5. Saffron Chickpeas and Bitter Greens with Quinoa

This grain bowl is a riot of flavors and textures, thanks to the saffron-enhanced chickpeas, medley of sauteed vegetables, fresh herbs, creamy avocado, and crunchy pumpkin seeds.

John von Pamer

6. Freekeh with Caramelized Shallots, Chickpeas, and Yogurt

Combine freekeh with spiced chickpeas, lemon juice, fresh cilantro, and pomegranate seeds for a grain bowl that strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory. A dollop of Greek yogurt adds lushness and a little tang.

David Malosh

7. Black Beans with Rice and Avocado

Amp up black beans with plenty of aromatics, then serve over healthy brown rice with cooling avocado, creamy queso fresco, fiery jalapeno, and fresh cilantro.


8. Millet Bowl with Black Beans and Vegetables

Topping underrated millet with a mixture of raw and steamed vegetables makes a lovely chorus of textures. A zippy apple-cider vinaigrette gives the dish extra oomph.


9. Farro, Chickpea, Feta, and Mint Salad

Mediterranean flavors are at the heart of this delectable farro salad. We're talking hearty chickpeas, salty feta, juicy tomatoes, and fresh mint.


10. Grain and Pesto Salad with Cherry Tomatoes

You can use farro, brown rice, wheat berries, or any grain you please for this scrumptious Italian-inspired bowl. Pesto, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan, vinegar, and fresh basil give it tons of flavor.


11. Vegetable-Rice Bowl with Miso Dressing

This meat-free brown-rice bowl combines some of our favorite Japanese ingredients: adzuki beans, seaweed, daikon radish, pickled plums, and gomashio (toasted sesame seeds and sea salt). The piece de resistance? Homemade ginger-miso dressing.

The key to a delicious grain bowl? You guessed it, perfectly cooked grains! Trust us, it's as easy as boiling a pot of pasta. Watch our Kitchen Conundrums expert Thomas Joseph demonstrate a foolproof method for cooking three grains: quinoa, farro, and freekeh.

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