36 Easy Packed Lunch Ideas to Try When You’re Tired of PB&J
Lunch can be a difficult task to tackle during the week. Meal prepping is a great tool, but it doesn’t always pan out if your Sunday schedule fills up. It’s also easy to get in the habit of eating lunch out with coworkers, which can rack up the calories (and the bills). With these packed lunch ideas, mealtime is no longer a worry. These brown bag lunch recipes are healthy, easy to make, and portable. It can be hard to eat light and fill up, but these recipes have plenty of protein to keep you full (without feeling like you need an afternoon nap after eating). Whether you crave soups you can heat up at the office, easy salads you can put together in a flash, or all-in-one bowl recipes, let these lunch ideas be your healthy guide. Leave that sad turkey sandwich and bag of salad behind—these recipes will upgrade your midday needs.
Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich
Recipe: Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich
Sneak in healthy apples and protein-packed cheese for a turkey sandwich that's anything but boring.
Recipe: Almond-Chicken Wrap
This light take on chicken salad is healthy, and serving it in a wrap is portable, so it’s your match made in brown-bag-lunch heaven.
Turkey, Pesto, and Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich
Say hello to your new favorite way to use leftover turkey.
Copycat Starbucks Bistro Boxes
Recipe: Copycat Starbucks Bistro Boxes
Whether you need a light lunch idea or snacks for those long afternoons, these healthful boxes are great for meal-prepping at the start of the week.
Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches
Recipe: Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches
Buttery biscuits, creamy white barbecue sauce, and slow-cooked chicken make this recipe a weekday warrior for kids and adults alike.
Chicken, White Bean, and Spinach Salad
Slow cookers and meal prep go hand-in-hand. Prepare the beans, chicken, and dressing on Sunday in the slow cooker, and assemble individual salads each day until your ingredients run out.
Ranch Turkey Burgers
Recipe: Ranch Turkey Burgers
Trying to eat healthy but need a burger fix? Here’s your too-good-for-words recipe.
Smoky White Bean Soup
Recipe: Smoky White Bean Soup
This comforting, healthy soup recipe is also a one-pot dish that’s ready in 25 minutes, so there’s nothing negative about this recipe.
Recipe: Ham Salad
Served over a bed of greens, on a buttery croissant, or with crackers, ham salad is a Southern dish made for lunchtime.
Chicken and Fontina Panini
Recipe: Chicken and Fontina Panini
You wouldn't guess this fancy-feeling lunch panini only calls for five ingredients.
Black-Eyed Pea Fritter Sandwiches with Slaw
Falafel goes Southern with this recipe that’s perfect for eating on the go. You’ll want to use the Dijon mustard-yogurt sauce on everything after you try it.
Recipe: Burrito Bowls
Customize your toppings for these healthy burrito bowls and never get bored with lunch again.
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Recipe: Egg Salad Sandwiches
This classic spread will never go out of style. Make a batch, and send it to the cafeteria.
Pea Pesto Flatbread
Recipe: Pea Pesto Flatbread
Instead of getting a greasy slice of cheese, try this fresh flatbread for a healthy upgrade.
Ham and Dijon Grilled Cheese
Recipe: Ham and Dijon Grilled Cheese
A classic grilled cheese but even more dynamic. Ham and Dijon mustard make a tasty duo.
Blackberry-Oat Crumble Bars
Recipe: Blackberry-Oat Crumble Bars
These ooey-gooey treats taste like a twist between blackberry cobbler and a bar cookie—which means...heaven?
Kale and Sweet Potato Salad with Chicken
Candied pecans provide a hint of sweetness to this filling salad. Pack the dressing in a separate container and drizzle it on just before you eat.
Hearty Beef and Freezer Veggie Soup
For a cozy meal, there’s nothing quite like a warm bowl of beef soup, but it takes hours to simmer or slow cook to perfection. Not so with this recipe! It’s the most delicious shortcut we’ve ever found.
Cuban Black Bean-and-Yellow Rice Bowls
These colorful, meatless bowls are packed with filling, good-for-you ingredients. You’ll have the most flavorful lunchbox in the work refrigerator.
Garlic Shrimp and Herbed Couscous Salad
You’ll add this light, bright recipe to your weekly roundup. Serve it alone or over a bed of lightly dressed salad greens.
Easy Artichoke Pasta Toss
Recipe: Easy Artichoke Pasta Toss
If you don’t want to wait for the office microwave, this easy (and we mean so easy) pasta can be served at room temperature. Add grilled or rotisserie chicken for a protein boost.
Farro Bowl with Curry-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
If you think meatless means less flavor, let this hearty recipe prove you wrong.
Chicken and Charred Succotash Salad
This colorful salad can be served hot or cold. It’s the best combo a lunch can be—filling and healthy.
Greek Meatballs with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce and Rice
Serve the meatballs over rice or make meatball pitas with cucumber-yogurt sauce for two healthy, Mediterranean lunch options.
Vidalia Onion Soup
Recipe: Vidalia Onion Soup
Instead of going out for lunch, make this quick, savory soup. Don’t forget a piece of crusty bread for dipping!
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Mini Quiches
Make these quiches up to two days ahead and have them ready to go in the refrigerator. They’re served at room temperature, so no office microwave required, and individual servings make portion control easy.
Soba Noodle-and-Shrimp Bowls
Recipe: Soba Noodle-and-Shrimp Bowls
These noodle bowls have tons of Asian flavor without tons of calories. They’re served chilled or at room temperature, so they’re perfect for work.
Poached Salmon Salad with Pickled Snap Peas
Calling all green goddess-dressing lovers—here’s a springy recipe for you to try. Thank us later!
Herbed Shrimp-and-Rice Salad
Recipe: Herbed Shrimp-and-Rice Salad
Colorful, healthy, and so tasty, this shrimp salad can go to work for lunch or be served at home for a dressy luncheon.
Recipe: Turkey Quesadillas
These healthy quesadillas will keep you from going to the Mexican restaurant next door during lunch hour. Filled with turkey, caramelized onions and peppers, pepper Jack cheese, and guacamole, these quesadillas will be a home run.
Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad
This Southwest salad, topped with homemade tortilla strips, is anything but boring. The tangy lime vinaigrette is a new salad dressing staple for us.
Gulf Crab Cakes with Lemon Butter
Make these crab cakes for dinner and take the leftovers to work the next day with a side green salad for a fancy midweek treat.
No-Bake Granola Bars
Recipe: No-Bake Granola Bars
When you're in a pinch, these no-bake bars will fill up a lunch box or save snack time.
Gourmet Grilled Cheese with Bacon
Don't let the name fool you—this grilled cheese is as kid-friendly as it gets.
Ham-Stuffed Biscuits With Mustard Butter
A few simple ingredients—a Hawaiian roll, deli-style ham, mustard, and cheese—combine to create a ham sandwich that is so much greater than the sum of its parts.