Back-to-school and back-to-work mean reentry on the lunch-packing routine. Excited? Not so much? If you and yours are bored of peanut butter and tired of turkey, think outside of the box. First, see how a nutritionist packs a perfectly balanced lunch (in three easy steps!). Then, get inspired with these delicious ideas, from hit-the-spot soups, salads, and sandwiches to satisfying grain bowls and snack packs for kids of all ages.
These bloggers prove that lunch doesn’t have to be a bore, or a chore. With one of these recipes, your quick, easy, and healthy lunch is in the bag.
Photo courtesy of Vanilla and Bean
Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Find the full recipe on Vanilla and Bean
Lots of bloggers are finding clever ways to lighten up classic sandwich fillings. Make chicken salad with avocado, cut your tuna with yogurt, or get some plant protein with these creamy smashed chickpeas.
Photo courtesy of Family Fresh Meals
Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad
Find the full recipe on Family Fresh Meals
Here’s that creamy chicken salad, enriched with healthy fats from buttery avocado. Pile it into a pita pocket, or add a scoop to a tub of mixed greens.
Photo courtesy of The Novice Chef
Apple, Cheddar & Turkey Panini
Find the full recipe on The Novice Chef
Load up your sandwich with colorful veggies or fruit. Sliced bananas or strawberries are delicious with nut butters, and autumn apples and pears go well with sharp cheddar or blue cheeses. This recipe gives you the idea, but ease up on the fillings to avoid breaking the calorie bank—stick to 1 tablespoon butter, 1 slice of cheese, and about 2 ounces turkey per sandwich.
Photo courtesy of Beard & Bonnet
Vegan Mason Jar Taco Salad
Find the full recipe on Beard & Bonnet
Mason jar salads are still going strong. Drop your dressing at the bottom, layer sturdy chopped veggies and grains, and get some protein in the mix.
Photo courtesy of The Garlic Diaries
Crunchy Sesame Kale Salad
Find the full recipe on The Garlic Diaries
Kale salad only gets better as it sits, softens, and marinates in your lunch box. Try this tempting sesame dressing, and toss in some cubed tofu or lean grilled pork.
Photo courtesy of The Simple Veganista
Kale, Quinoa & White Bean Soup
Find the full recipe on The Simple Veganista
As the weather cools off, colorful veggie soups pack comfort and nourishment. Make a big pot of creamy butternut or chunky tomato, perfect for dunking crusty whole-grain bread. But beans really tide you over until dinnertime. Consider this the superfood minestrone, plumped with quinoa and kale.
Photo courtesy of Don’t Waste the Crumbs
Healthy Homemade Lunchables
Find the full recipe on Don’t Waste the Crumbs
Why should kids have all the fun with stack-and-build lunches? When you’ve had enough of sandwiches, throw together your own snack pack: sliced turkey, cheese, whole-wheat crackers, done. Tuck in some grapes and baby carrots, on the side.
Photo courtesy of One Equals Two
Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs
Find the full recipe on One Equals Two
Make meatballs for dinner and pop leftovers into lunches. They’re perfect little bundles of protein, and they even freeze beautifully, if you want to save some for later. Pair them with marinara or tzatziki and a side of roast veggies. Or make this adorable bento box, with brown rice (instead of white), tender-crisp asparagus, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Photo courtesy of Pinch of Yum
Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Find the full recipe on Pinch of Yum
Healthy dips are good for a quick dollop. Box up hummus, eggplant, or red pepper dip with a little crumbled feta, a handful of olives, and lots of sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. This blogger spins it into a beautiful grain bowl, but you could just grab a whole-wheat pita on the fly.
Photo courtesy of Cookie + Kate
Spicy Sweet Potato & Green Rice Burrito Bowls
Find the full recipe on Cookie + Kate
Spicy and satisfying even, veggie or vegan, a burrito bowl always sounds awesome. Make extra rice and roast veggies for dinner, and all you have to do is crank open a can of black beans and grab an avocado. You have hot sauce at your desk, right?
Note: This recipe has enough carbs to load up for a big race. If you’re at the office and watching your calories, halve the rice and sweet potatoes, and add a couple of handfuls of baby spinach.
Hungry for more? Get more nutrition tips and delicious recipes.
- How a Nutritionist Packs the Perfect Lunch
- Healthy Recipe: Green Goddess Salad with Chickpeas, Avocado & Sprouts
- Healthy Recipe: Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Mango & Avocado
- 12 Tasty Porridges with Whole Grains
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.