Healthy Brown-Bag Lunch Recipes
You'll be looking forward to lunchtime when you pack your trusty brown bag with one of these midday meals. From wraps and sliders to salads and tabbouleh, we have enough inspiration to ensure your lunch is anything but dull.
Farro Salad Lunch Box
Pouched precooked farro (which you’ll find on the rice and grains aisle of some larger supermarkets) is a great product to keep on hand. It’ll keep for months in the pantry, reheats in just 90 seconds, and is versatile enough to go into salads, soups, pilafs, and more. You can also cook your own farro if you have time; you’ll need 2 cups for this recipe. This salad holds up beautifully for several days, so feel free to double the recipe and have lunch in the bag for nearly the whole week.
Miso Noodle Soup
This Japanese breakfast mainstay often served alongside eggs, pickles, rice, and fish also makes a quick and healthy lunch. You can throw it together in just 10 minutes for a dish that's low in sugar and calories. Brown rice noodles, mushrooms, and a hard-cooked egg make this vegetarian soup—and staff favorite—hearty and satisfying. That said, you could easily add meat if you like; leftover roast pork would be ideal. White miso gives a slightly sweet flavor to this Japanese soup, and we have plenty of uses for this versatile soybean paste packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Black Bean-Quinoa Salad with Basil-Lemon Dressing
Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain, making this salad substantial enough to keep you satisfied through the end of the day. Edamame makes a tasty substitute for lima beans in this recipe. Who says lunchtime isn't about presenation? Layer the bottom of your trusty plastic lunch container with spinach leaves before piling on this hearty salad.
Sushi Sandwich Lunch Box
Love sushi rolls, but feel intimidated by the rolling technique? Then sushi sandwiches—actually a traditional Japanese dish called onigirazu—will be right up your alley. We pair ours with cooked Broccolini and steamed edamame for a veggie boost.
Tuna Poke Bowls with Brown Rice and Kale
Upgrade summer's coolest dish, poke, with whole grains, heart-healthy fats, and crisp kale. Want to go beyond the bowl? Serve this 10-minute mixture over mixed greens or with crunchy brown rice crackers, or tuck into corn tortillas.
Pan Bagnat (Niçoise Salad Sandwiches)
These sandwiches take everything you love about a Niçoise salad and put it between two slices of a baguette, making this complete meal portable enough for a brown bag.
Ploughman's Lunch Box
A typical English ploughman's lunch contains cold cheese, pickles, and bread. We lighten ours by pairing Gruyère cheese and a whole-wheat baguette with almonds, grapes, radishes, and homemade Spiced Apple Chutney. This tangy and sweet condiment has a little spicy kick. It's delicious as part of a cheese board, on a burger or sandwich, with pork chops or pork tenderloin, or tucket into the ultimate snack lunch.
Baby Kale, Butternut, and Chicken Salad
Precut vegetables, rotisserie chicken, and chopped pecans save time when throwing together a quick lunch before school or work. A homemade dressing of molasses, olive oil, cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard keeps added sugar and calories in check. One of the healthiest and nutritious vegetables, butternut squash is full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Bake butternut squash in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Keep a batch on hand for a side, soup, or hash stir-in. Our Top-Rated Butternut Squash recipes give you plenty of dishes where this fall vegetable shines.
For quick and healthy lunches, stock up on 1-pint jars for portable and perfectly portioned salads and soups. This Italian soup packs 10g of protein in a meal that's less than 250 calories. Layer up and refrigerate as many jars as you need—just add hot water at the office. If sending this kid-friendly soup to school in a lunch box, pack in an insulated thermos and top off with hot water at home. Use a spiralizer to make fun zucchini noodles, or a vegetable peeler for ribbons. Or just finely chop for faster prep.
Chicken Salad Lunch Box
We’ve bypassed mayo for a fresher, zestier approach to chicken salad. Creamy Greek yogurt teams up with a little olive oil for richness and gets spiked with fragrant lemon rind and woodsy fresh thyme. We poach boneless, skinless chicken breasts with bay leaves to infuse flavor and keep the chicken moist. Pack your lunch with cantaloupe cubes, celery stalks, and goat cheese-stuffed Peppadew peppers to round out your meal.
Spicy Southwestern Tabbouleh
"If you're working, you can do a lot of prep before, when you do have time," says recipe developer Christine Datian. Datian recommends buying prechopped vegetables from the grocery store. If necessary, you can even soak the bulgur overnight. Pack a side of hummus and a few carrot sticks to complete the meal.
Picnic-Perfect Lobster Rolls
This classic New England sandwich comes together in a snap if you purchase lobster tails and have them steamed at the fish counter. Assemble the sandwich before heading out the door. Need a snack? Pack a portion of Popchips' Salt & Pepper variety for a little crunch.
Spinach, Beet, and Lentil Salad
Raw beets offer earthy flavor and meaty texture and add crunch and color to this salad. Use our beets guide for helpful prep tips and ideas on how to put this spring and fall vegetable to good use in a variety of yummy recipes. Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber in this recipe. They make a great addition to soups, stews, salads, vegetarian dishes, and more. Best of all, they're quick-cooking and don't require soaking. Our compilation of favorite recipes features more than 30 dishes featuring various types of lentils.
Grilled Veggie and Hummus Wraps
If you're firing up the grill for dinner, take the time to grill a few slices of onion, a bell pepper and sliced eggplant for lunch the next day. Store grilled veggies in the refrigerator overnight and then assemble in the morning. Serve with a light pasta salad like our Confetti Couscous.
Lemony Orzo-Veggie Salad with Chicken
Fresh and light describe the flavors of this salad. With pops of green onions, herbs and cucumber, and bright red bell pepper, this dish will be a delight for both the eyes and the palate. This one-dish wonder makes for the ideal brown-bag choice.
Chickpea and Sausage Pesto Soup
In just five minutes, you can layer this quick meal for today's lunch. The combination of sun-dried tomato chicken sausage and 1/2 cup chickpeas packs a whopping 20g of protein into this soup. Prepared pesto creates a rich flavor base for this Mediterranean-inspired soup; we've found that refrigerated versions taste fresher and more vibrant. Our 5-ingredient homemade pesto adds a little extra time, but offers fresh flavor you can use for pizza, pasta, and a host of other dishes. If you have a spiralizer; you can make lovely carrot noodles in place of matchstick-cut carrots. You can also use this handy tool to create swirly vegetable noodles for dishes like our Zucchini Noodles Tossed in a Cilantro-Avocado Pesto.
Southwest Crispy Chicken Sliders
Homemade muffins, a crispy panko topping, fresh guacamole—and don't forget the bacon—you've got to try this one. Pack a small plastic container with a side of slaw (we recommend our ). Learn more.
Romaine, Celery, and Parmesan Salad
This streamlined Caesar salad gets extra crunch from celery. To build a satisfying lunch salad, you need a hearty base, protein, nutritional toppings with color, a salty or sweet crunch, and healthy fat. Our version has all five with chopped romaine, a hard-cooked egg, red onion, celery, Parmesan cheese, and a DIY dressing of mayonnaise, lemon juice, and fresh dill. We left the anchovies out of the dressing to keep it kid friendly. If you love this, try our Kale Caesar Quinoa and Chicken Salad for a punch of whole-grain goodness, fiber, vegetable, and protein in every bite.
Curry Chicken Wraps with Nectarine Chutney
Indian spices pair well with tangy nectarines but you can also use peaches, if you prefer.
Bulgur Salad with Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes
Leftover chicken from last night's dinner? Throw it into this salad for an extra punch of protein at lunchtime.
Grilled Chicken Wraps
Toss grilled, shredded chicken in a tangy mayonnaise mixture and wrap it up in flatbread along with a shredded cabbage and pickles for a delicious, packable lunch. If just a wrap won't do, pack a serving of TERRA Chips' Sweet Potato Chips.
Greek Farro and Chickpea Salad
Farro is a quick-cooking, rich, and nutty grain, often found in Italian and Mediterranean dishes as an alternative to rice, barley, couscous, and quinoa. Packed with fiber, protein, and nutrients like Vitamin B3, farro’s satisfying chewy texture will have you falling head-over-heels in no time. Chickpeas are a delicious low-fat, plant-based protein option that's filled with fiber. Be sure to opt for the unsalted canned chickpeas to lower sodium. For Sunday prep, omit the arugula and make enough farro mixture for the week. Stir in the greens just before you head out the door. Try our Whole-Grain Salads for more make-ahead, quick-to-serve lunches and dinners.
Colorful Quick Quinoa Grecian Salad
Featuring delicious produce and protein-rich quinoa, this colorful recipe was a finalist from our Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest. Make a big batch to serve for lunch throughout the week.
A whole-grain protein bowl is the perfect solution for when lunch needs to be quick—as well as tasty, filling, and healthy. Cook quinoa ahead of time (or buy precooked, available in pouches near the rice). To complete the lunch, serve with 1/2 cup steamed green beans as shown. Dairy-free option: Use 2 teaspoons toasted chopped walnuts instead of feta cheese.
Chipotle Pork and Avocado Wraps
For a bit more spice in your wrap, add another teaspoon of chipotle chiles to the avocado spread.