Are you bored of eating sandwiches for lunch? Running out of ideas to make lunch healthy, delicious, and interesting? Trying to reduce simple carbs in your diet? Whatever your reasoning or motivation, here are some convenient packed-lunch recipes to make you look forward to lunch time at work or school and keep your energy up all afternoon. There is so much to choose from – soups, salads, one-pot meals, wraps, noodles or pasta dishes, and more.
Homemade soups work well for lunch at work. You can use flavorful, ripe tomatoes when they are in season or make it with canned tomatoes when it’s cold outside — a perfect reminder of summer sunshine and blue skies! You could add some orzo if you are looking for a more filling meal.
One of the worst things about carrying a sandwich for lunch at work is that they tend to be either too dry or too soggy.
Here is a happy alternative in taste and texture — and it’s healthy, too. Lettuce leaves as a wraps work superbly to add crunch. You can use them in place of buns to wrap burgers, too.
Inspired by pizza toppings, this vegetarian, flavor-packed couscous recipe makes for a lovely light lunch — and it’s great for lunchboxes. You could add some leftover chicken or lamb to make a more filling option.
This is a delightful recipe that creates a bridge between the changing seasons. It combines the fresh flavors of summer with the warm, comforting aromas of the soon-approaching autumn. This contrast of a hearty lentil and grain pilaf as the base, with a refreshing fruity Greek salad as a topping, can be served chilled, too.
I am not a big fan of kale, but this is a salad I love. It combines my favorite things to eat, namely fruits and nuts, with kale. It works beautifully to balance the bitterness of the kale and the different textures make each bite interesting. The dressing pairs really well to elevate the salad to another level. It’s a wonderfully versatile salad. You can substitute peaches for nectarines, plums, or even mango. Similarly, if you don’t have freekah, feel free to use whatever grains you have at home – quinoa, brown rice, pearl barley, or others you have available.
These are so refreshing and light and easy to eat, not to mention a breeze to put together. It’s merely a prep and assembly job with a very satisfying result. You can cut and prepare the filling and peanut sauce the previous night and make the rolls in the morning before dashing off to work. You’ll probably be thinking about lunch hour all morning and I won’t be surprised if they end up as an early snack before lunch! Kids will love these too, and it’s a great way to get them to eat more vegetables!
This gorgeous salad makes the best of the summer’s bounty of cherries. The sweet juicy cherries go well with salty creamy feta. It’s great for picnics or brown bag lunches. You can substitute quinoa for orzo or couscous.
This healthy and delicious salad can be made with any beans you have lying in your cupboard – borlotti, cannellini, or a mix of all. I prefer to use tuna in spring water for a lighter version and then I can add in olive oil in the dressing as per preference.
It has only 195 calories per serving, which includes 16 grams of protein! It’s quick to cook and delectable. It’s perfect for a packed lunch and will be a hit with the kids!
This appetizing salad uses fiery Harissa to add spice and zest to leftover chicken. The artichokes and ciabatta help bulk up the salad and keep you full longer, helping to reduce the extra calories from snacking too often.
One word – Yummy! Zoodles are a fabulous way to lighten up noodle and spaghetti dishes. They taste amazing and the spices and herbs really makes for a delicious lunch. You could make them the previous day and substitute the prawns for the protein of your choice. If you don’t have a spirulizer, you could use a mandolin or make shavings of zucchini like broad flat noodles using a veg peeler.
12. Buddha Bowl
Buddha bowls, Chirashi Bowls, and rice bowls all work on the same principle of adding layers of carbs, protein, and other toppings and dressings of your choice in a bowl.
A Buddha bowl is usually vegan and combines green leaves, starch, cooked and raw veggies, protein, dressing, herbs, and other toppings to add texture and flavor. Whether or not you are into clean eating or are doing a detox routine, or if you just love oriental flavors, you need to try one of these. It’s a wholesome DIY bowl alive with taste and goodness. You can customize it to your dietary preference, even adding meat or dairy protein, like in a Chirashi bowl, and still get the goodness of a healthy lunch bowl that covers your 5-or-more a day.
13. Jam Jar Salad
Packed lunches often lose out on presentation because they are often hastily put together as you dash for work. However, the latest trend of carrying your lunch in a jam jar is a fun, cool way to eat salads with little effort on your end other than assembling it. This fun colorful rainbow salad not only looks appetising, but is very healthy and filling. Cook the quinoa the previous night to cut down on prep time. Layer it in a Mason jar to carry it to work and impress all your colleagues.
I love Thai red curry and I love noodle soups. This fabulous recipe combines both and is gluten free. It can easily be knocked out in just 20 minutes. Brown rice noodles are used in this healthier version, but you can substitute any kind that you prefer. You can make the Thai curry paste ahead of time or use one that comes from a packet. You can even try this recipe with Tom Yum paste instead of green curry.
15. Tortilla Rollups
These are great fun, very kid-friendly, lunch-box friendly, and incredibly versatile when it comes to fillings. Use a whole-wheat tortilla for a healthier option and spreads like hummus or avocado-based spreads. I like to add a lot of veggies to make it light, refreshing, and wholesome.
Frittatas are a great alternative to sandwiches and the kids will absolutely love them. This one is made lighter using ricotta instead of cheddar or parmesan and no cream. It’s packed with veg and the mini sizes are perfect for school lunchboxes.
17. DIY Salad
One of the main things you can do in order to make packed lunches easier to put together in the morning is meal planning. An hour’s cooking on a weekend is all you need to keep your week moving smoothly. You can batch roast veggies, pre-cook grains like quinoa, make dressings like hummus in advance, and just assemble it all in the morning. Check the link for some great tips and lovely vegan recipes.
18. Quick Fried Rice
Fried rice is a popular, kid-friendly lunchbox recipe. Make it healthier by loading it with veggies and using brown rice for a wholesome version. I often use a mix of red, brown, and wild rice — my family adores it.
You can prepare the bulgar wheat and salad dressing the previous night and keep it in the fridge. I often use stock instead of just plain water to cook the bulgar and add more flavor. In the morning, some light chopping and assembling and a no-stress delicious lunch is ready. Substitute the cheese for any protein of your choice.
A wholesome comforting bowl of chicken and bean chili makes for a lunch you’ll look forward to in the winter. The heat from the green chilies and spices with the mellow chicken broth are just what you need to brighten up a dull, wet, and windy day. Fortify yourself against colds and the flu with the goodness of this chicken soup. You can make a large batch and freeze half for another time.