20 Easy Grain Bowl Recipes That’ll Replace Your Lunch Salad

Spicy fish taco bowls

How Sweet Eats

We’re all familiar with quinoa and how good it is for you, but even we can tire of having every lunch feature whatever grain is "in" this week. But good-for-you bowls can be prepared with a host of other ingredients that sing, like barley, quinoa, and your standby vegetables. And they’re not just a super-easy way to fit in your daily vegetable quota: They're also so easy to prepare in advance using just about any ingredient you have on hand.

Interested in tasting the trend firsthand? Here are 20 picture-perfect bowl recipes that will fill you up.

01 of 20

Zen Bowl

Zen noodle bowl with seared, sesame crusted ahi

Feasting at Home

If you're craving a bowl with Japanese flare, try this zen noodle bowl recipe by Feasting at Home. It calls for soba noodles, your choice of protein (like seared, sesame crusted ahi, or tofu), avocado, veggies, and ponzu sauce.

Pro Tip: If you're going grain-free or low-carb, Feasting from Home recommends serving with sautéed zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice.

02 of 20

Bangkok Coconut Curry Bowl

Bangkok coconut curry bowl

Pinch of Yum

Curry lovers have got to try these coconut curry bowls by Pinch of Yum. It's jam-packed with rice noodles, broccoli florets, shredded carrots, chopped asparagus, and purple cabbage.

Pro Tip: Remember—to make the fragrant sauce, you’ll need to hit up the international aisle of the grocery store for red curry paste, coconut milk, sambal oelek, and fish sauce. Or, seek an international specialty food store.

03 of 20

Vegan Green Goddess Bowl

Vegan green goddess bowl

Feasting at Home

Tofu makes the typically dairy-heavy green goddess dressing vegan-friendly in Feasting at Home's vegan green goddess bowl. Virtually any produce will do, such as asparagus, cucumbers, potatoes, avocado, and radishes.

Pro Tip: The green goddess dressing recipe calls for tarragon, though basil works in a pinch, too.

04 of 20

Mexican Buddha Bowl

Mexican Buddha bowl

Brown Sugar & Vanilla

For a taste of Oaxaca in grain bowl form, make Brown Sugar & Vanilla's Mexican Buddha bowl. An excellent mole paste (Brown Sugar & Vanilla uses one by La Guelaguetza) is the not-so-secret ingredient that bathes simmering chickpeas. Combine with rice, greens, and cherry tomatoes.

Pro Tip: This recipe serves four. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced onion for something extra.

05 of 20

Greek Quinoa Bowl

Greek power bowl

Kim's Cravings

When you’re building your own bowl combinations, look to a specific country’s cuisine for inspiration. For example, this power bowl by Kim's Cravings is filled with traditional Greek ingredients such as Kalamata olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, and tzatziki.

Pro Tip: On the other hand, you could use quinoa as the base to make an Italian-inspired bowl with pesto, white cannellini beans, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella cubes, and pesto. Or what about a French bowl with radishes, roasted pearl onions, endives, and a honey-Dijon vinaigrette? The culinary possibilities are endless.

06 of 20

Roasted Sunchoke and Barley Bowl with Zaatar Tahini Sauce

Roasted sunchoke and barley bowl

Feasting at Home 

This vegan, plant-based bowl from Feasting at Home is bursting with mushrooms, parsnips, and kale, and drizzled with a flavorful za'atar tahini sauce. Sunchokes are the root of a sunflower, are similar in texture to an artichoke, and are typically found seasonally at farmers markets or upscale grocery stores.

Pro Tip: To minimize cooking time, you can soak barley in water overnight.

07 of 20

Rainbow Veggie Bowl with Jalapeño Ranch Dressing

Rainbow Veggie Bowl With Jalapeño Ranch Dressing

Pinch of Yum

This colorful rainbow veggie bowl by Pinch of Yum has a base of farro and lentils, topped off with burst-in-your-mouth cherry tomatoes, crunchy snap peas, and creamy avocado. Make sure you don’t skimp on the homemade jalapeño ranch! Every great bowl has some sort of flavorful sauce, and since this ranch is made with nonfat Greek yogurt and tons of fresh herbs, you can rest assured that it’s good for you.

Pro Tip: For an Instagram-worthy bowl, arrange your toppings in "stripes" before drizzling ranch in zig-zag fashion on top.

08 of 20

Mexican Quinoa Bowl with Orange Lime Dressing

Mexican Quinoa Bowl With Orange Lime Dressing

Minimalist Baker

Take a trip south of the border when you bite into this Mexican-inspired quinoa bowl by Minimalist Baker. It’s a vegan salad that’s full of black beans, corn, avocado, cilantro, and segmented oranges. Serve with tortilla chips, guacamole, and a fiery Michelada, and you’ve got a meal that’s impressive enough to serve friends at an impromptu weeknight dinner party.

Pro Tip: Craving a vinaigrette dressing instead? Leave out the avocado and whisk all other ingredients together.

09 of 20

Vietnamese Vermicelli Bowl

Vietnamese Vermicelli Bowl

Feasting at Home

These Vietnamese vermicelli bowls by Feasting at Home take a bit more time than these other recipes to prepare, but are full of flavor. While the noodles cook in less than three minutes, the protein (your choice of chicken, tofu, or shrimp) needs to be marinated in lemongrass Chinese-five spice mixture for at least 30 minutes (and up to 24 hours.) We recommend prepping the night before.

Pro Tip: This recipe calls for fish sauce, and Feasting at Home provides a recipe for vegan fish sauce made with soy sauce, mushrooms, seaweed, and garlic, if preferred.

10 of 20

Bliss Bowl

Bliss bowl

Pinch of Yum

A successful bowl has a balance of textures and flavors. You want a nice mix of crunch and creaminess as well as spice and sweetness. This bliss bowl by Pinch of Yum has all of those things: It’s filled with cumin-scented roasted carrots and cauliflower, crisp homemade falafel, crunchy cabbage, spicy jalapeño, and a tahini-lemon-honey sauce. Delish!

Pro Tip: This recipe yields four bowls—perfect to make at the beginning of the week to last you through several lunchtimes.

11 of 20

Brown Rice, Black Beans, and Grilled Pineapple Bowl with Ancho Chile Dressing

Brown rice, black beans, grilled pineapple bowl with ancho chile dressing

Brown Sugar and Vanilla 

This vegetarian bowl recipe by Brown Sugar and Vanilla's got flavor for days. Grilled pineapple adds a bit of sweetness to the brown rice and black beans, while the ancho chile dressing brings some heat.

Pro Tip: When grilling the pineapple, aim for a light brown color.

12 of 20

Crispy Rice Bowl with Browned Butter Sweet Potatoes and Herby Green Tahini

Crispy rice with sweet potato and herby tahini bowls

Half Baked Harvest

This crispy rice bowl with sweet potatoes and herby tahini by Half Baked Harvest includes a fried egg, sliced cucumbers, and sesame seeds for garnish. Plus, leftovers are hardy enough for a few more lunches in the coming days.

Pro Tip: Instead of cilantro, make the herby tahini sauce with basil or parsley.

13 of 20

Mexican Shredded Chicken Tinga Burrito Bowl

Mexican shredded chicken tinga burrito bowls

Salt & Wind 

When you marinate chicken and chipotle peppers in adobo, garlic, and onion, and then add sweet potato, avocado, and cotija cheese, you get Salt & Wind's Mexican shredded chicken tinga burrito bowl. Make sure to also have sliced radishes, scallions, and pico de gallo salsa on-hand for serving, too.

Pro Tip: If needed, you can roast sweet potatoes up to two days in advance; just be sure to store them in an airtight container before use.

14 of 20

Sweet Potato Feta Quinoa Bowl

Sweet potato, feta, quinoa bowls

Love and Lemons

This sweet potato with feta and quinoa bowl from Love and Lemons is probably the easiest recipe to make in this lineup. Roasted sweet potato, chickpeas, feta and quinoa are drizzled in olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a squeeze of lemon. Toasted almonds add some crunch, and salad greens and scallions complete the dish.

Pro Tip: For an extra kick, roast sweet potatoes with cayenne or a cumin and coriander spice combo.

15 of 20

Spicy Fish Taco Bowls with Mango Pico

Spicy fish taco bowls

How Sweet Eats

Well-seasoned wild cod stars in How Sweet Eats's spicy fish taco bowls with mango pico. Fill your bowl with chopped mango and cherry tomatoes, avocado, Napa cabbage, lots of lime, and a host of spices like paprika and cayenne pepper. Top with generous amounts of crumbly queso fresco.

Pro Tip: Choose your own adventure with fish preparation. How Sweet Eats broiled her fish for ease, but also recommends grilling or even breading and frying the filet.

16 of 20

Vibrant Spring Broccoli Buddha Bowl

Vibrant spring buddha bowl

Half Baked Harvest

For a power lunch, look no further than Half Baked Harvest's vibrant spring broccoli buddha bowl. It's bursting with sweet potato, broccoli, purple cabbage, lentils, and brightened with lemon. Plus: Avocado, quinoa, and orange, and it's all dressed in a turmeric-ginger vinaigrette.

Pro Tip: Keep going with the ingredients and top with sesame seeds and bean sprouts for even more nutritional punch.

17 of 20

Turkish Breakfast Bowls

Turkish breakfast bowls

Root + Revel

Sumac, chiles, allspice and oregano add a ton of flavor to Root + Revel's Turkish breakfast bowls. Ground lamb, fried (or poached) egg, and roasted chickpeas mean this meal is brimming with satiating protein and fiber.

Pro Tip: When making the yogurt sauce, "You definitely want fresh herbs for this yogurt sauce, as dried just won’t provide the same vibrancy and flavor," writes Root + Revel.

18 of 20

Black Rice Burrito Bowl

Black rice burrito bowl

Pickled Plum 

This deconstructed burrito is as colorful as it is nutritious. To make Pickled Plum's black rice burrito bowl, black rice and cannellini beans provide a base for tomatoes, onions, arugula, and avocado. Everything receives the spice treatment of cumin, lime, cilantro, then topped with tortilla strips for satisfying crunch.

Pro Tip: Want to take this burrito bowl to work for lunch? "Keep each topping separate in small storage containers, refrigerated," writes Pickled Plum. Then assemble just before eating.

19 of 20

Chimichurri Steak Bowls with Roasted Potatoes

Chimichurrri steak and roasted potatoes bowls

Root + Revel

Root + Revel reaches for organic flank steak to make her recipe for chimichurri steak bowls with roasted potatoes. The recipe also calls for cauliflower 'rice,' and is accessorized with avocado, pickled red onion, and herby chimichurri.

Pro Tip: Follow Root + Revel's lead and make a big batch of chimichurri to add to eggs, sandwiches, other bowl combinations, and more.

20 of 20

Easy Bibimbap Bowl

Easy bibimbap bowl

How Sweet Eats 

Recreate this traditional Korean rice bowl with Pickled Plum's recipe for Bibimbap. You'll need rice and protein, as well as lots of produce, like carrots, bean sprouts, Shiitake mushrooms, and baby spinach. Soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, Korean red chili paste, and rice vinegar will be used for seasoning. Plus, one fried egg for the bowl's center.

Pro Tip: These ingredients are easily interchangeable. For example, use chicken, fish, beef, or tofu to switch up the protein. Or use zucchini or snow peas in exchange for carrots or bean sprouts.

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