With the warm weather upon us once again, we want our meals to match the season: bright, colorful, zesty, and good for us—and eminently packable for on-the-go convenience to school or work. We’ve collected a handful of nutritious recipes here that will satisfy your cravings for a tasty lunch but are also perfect for the cafeteria or desk. Take a little stress out of the rest of the school year with these flavorful but easy-to-assemble homemade lunches.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Forget the worn-out egg and tuna salads, chickpea salad is easy to prep in advance and inexpensive to make! In this recipe from Love & Lemons, mashed chickpeas are imbued with nutty tahini and fresh lemon, then piled on a crusty baguette with crisp vegetables and briny olives. It eats like a classic pan bagnat, but it’s completely vegan!
Hearty Stuffed Peppers
If you or your kid has access to a microwave at work or school, stuffed peppers make an excellent packed lunch. They can be prepped over the weekend for the week ahead, and each all-in-one pepper is packed with protein, grains, and, of course, some gooey cheese! Delish shows you how to make them, but feel free to riff on this recipe with different proteins, spices, or cheeses of your choice.
Chicken and Soba Noodle Salad in a Jar
Who doesn’t love lunch in a jar? This layered noodle salad from Taste can easily be prepped in advance, and when it’s time to eat, just give it a shake so the homemade sesame dressing can coat the cooked noodles and crisp veg. The order of layering is key here: Add your dressing first, then the ingredients that can sit in liquid and won’t get soggy, like soba noodles and shredded chicken. We like to assemble this salad in a jar that’s slightly bigger than the one you’ll need so there’s extra room for shaking the contents. Or you can always just dump everything in a bowl at your desk and toss with a fork!
Lemony Chicken Meatball Bento Box
Baked lemony chicken meatballs are the star of this meze-inspired bento box from Furthermore. The meatballs can be shaped and baked on Sunday, then packed away for lunch throughout the week. They’re great heated up or at room temperature. Pair the meatballs with your favorite store-bought pita chips and hummus to make this lunch even easier. We like to use a bento box–style lunch container so everything stays separate until you’re ready to toss and eat!
DIY Taco Lunchbox
Kick off Taco Tuesday in the school cafeteria! Your kids will be psyched when they open their lunchbox and find this make-your-own taco lunch from EatingWell. This recipe calls for crumbled turkey meatballs, but you can sub in whatever leftover protein you have on hand: cubed steak, shredded rotisserie chicken, or even sautéed black beans and sweet potato for a vegetarian option. We also like to swap in small wheat-and-corn tortillas because they stay a little more pliable at room temperature.
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