16 Recipes that Pack Well for Lunch

16 healthy recipes that pack well for lunch! All vegetarian. cookieandkate.com

A couple weeks ago, when I asked you all how I could make this website work better for you, I got quite a few requests for packable lunches. “Challenge accepted!” I thought, in my best Barney Stinson voice. Anything for you guys.

So below, you’ll find sixteen of my favorite recipes that pack well for lunch, plus relevant storage tips. All of the recipes are vegetarian, of course, and I’ve noted which ones are also gluten free and/or vegan. Since these recipes are all meatless and full of fresh produce, be sure to pack generous portions to stay fueled through the afternoon! I’m confident you can step up to that plate.

I typed up my best lunch-packing tips in my mason jar salad recipe earlier this week, so don’t miss that post. You can also check out/bookmark my brand new “pack for lunch” category, which includes the recipes below and some more dinner recipes that pack particularly well for lunch the next day.

Last but not least, if you’re in the market for some sturdy, non-toxic, spill-proof lunch containers, I love these!

Deb's Kale Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pecans - cookieandkate.com

No. 1: Deb’s Kale Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pecans
Gluten free

Kale salads are a fantastic lunch options because kale, unlike more delicate greens, can stand up to vinegary dressing for a few days. The dressing acts as a marinade and breaks down the kale a bit, which makes it even more tasty!

Deb’s kale salad is one of my very favorites. It’s crisp, crunchy, nutty and refreshing. Hello, kale belly!

Asian chopped kale salad - cookieandkate.com

No. 2: Asian Chopped Kale Salad with Edamame, Carrot and Avocado
Gluten free, vegan

Here’s a kale salad featuring edamame for protein, tons of colorful veggies and an irresistible soy-ginger dressing.

Avocado is always a nice touch, but you might want to skip it when it comes to pre-packed lunches, since avocado oxidizes over time.

Chopped brussels sprout and kale salad with creamy tahini-maple dressing - cookieandkate.com

No. 3: Chopped Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad with Creamy Tahini-Maple Dressing
Gluten free

Another favorite kale salad! This one is super satisfying and sort of slaw-like, thanks to the shredded sprouts. I think I’m going to have to make more of that dressing for my lunch today.

Coconut quinoa with kale and cilantro-cashew pesto - cookieandkate.com

No. 4: Coconut Quinoa with Kale and Cilantro-Cashew Pesto
Gluten free, vegan

This dish has all the hallmarks of a filling meal—quinoa for protein, some healthy coconut fat and nuts to keep you full for hours, and tons of greens. Delicious!

Peanut-sesame slaw with soba noodles recipe - cookieandkate.com

No. 5: Peanut-Sesame Slaw with Soba Noodles
Easily made vegan

This slaw has been a big hit! It’s crispy, crunchy and packed with savory peanut flavor.

Easy caprese pasta salad recipe - cookieandkate.com

No. 6: Easy Caprese Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is a great dinner option. Just save leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Enjoy leftovers chilled, at room temperature or reheated. I suggest bringing a green salad to serve on the side, since this dish is more carb-heavy than the rest.

Healthy summer pasta salad with tomatoes, corn, black beans and a bold herbed pesto - cookieandkate.com

No. 7: Summertime Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Jalapeño Pesto
Easily gluten free, easily vegan

Here’s a boldly flavored pasta salad with beans and feta for protein. It’s great cold or reheated.

Lentil, chickpea and radish salad recipe - cookieandkate.com

No. 8: Lemony Lentil, Chickpea and Radish Salad
Gluten free, vegan

This is one of your favorites for packed lunches. To save time, make this salad with pre-cooked lentils and canned chickpeas. You’ll have lunch for days!

You can eat bean salads as is, or serve bean salad on greens, or stuff them in a tortilla with greens and hummus…

Lebanese Lemon-Parsley Bean Salad - cookieandkate.com

No. 9: Lebanese Lemon-Parsley Bean Salad
Gluten free, vegan

Crunchy celery, creamy chickpeas, and tons of fresh parsley have made this bean salad a favorite with readers. Celery haters, this salad will probably change your mind about celery. It’s so good in salads!

Healthy quinoa tabbouleh - cookieandkate.com

No. 10: Quinoa Tabbouleh
Gluten free, vegan

Protein-rich, gluten-free quinoa replaces the more traditional bulgur wheat in this tabbouleh recipe.

Crispy baked falafel - cookieandkate.com

No. 11: Crispy Baked Falafel
Gluten free, vegan

This crispy baked falafel will complement any salad with Greek flavors and make it more filling. You could also stuff it in a wrap or pita. The falafel freezes well, so keep some on hand at all times! It might even defrost on its own by lunch time.

Mason jar chickpea, farro and greens salad recipe. Recipe makes enough for 5 lunches! - cookieandkate.com

No. 12: Mason Jar Chickpea, Farro and Greens Salad
Easily vegan

This salad might look familiar! I posted it a couple of days ago. It features crunchy celery, creamy chickpeas, chewy wheat berries and lots of fresh greens.

The basic idea with mason jar salads is to layer them with dressing on the bottom, heartier ingredients in the middle, and greens and garnishes on top. That way the greens don’t come into contact with the dressing until you’re ready for lunch!

Summer salad with strawberries, spinach, quinoa, almonds and goat cheese - cookieandkate.com

No. 13: Strawberry, Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Almonds and Goat Cheese
Gluten free, easily vegan

This salad is a prime candidate for the mason jar technique. Feel free to substitute apples or pears for the strawberries this fall. Apples and pears oxidize when they come into contact with air, so toss them in the lemon dressing at the bottom of the mason jar to keep them fresh until lunch time.

This healthy, Mediterranean-flavored lentil soup is made with (mostly) pantry ingredients! Vegan and gluten free. cookieandkate.com

No. 14: Spiced Lentil Soup with Collard Greens
Gluten free, vegan

If you think lentil soup is boring, this one will prove you wrong. Everyone who tries it goes crazy for it!

Readers' favorite butternut squash chili recipe - cookieandkate.com

No. 15: Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili
Gluten free, vegan

This is a popular cold-weather lunch option. It’s a little sweet, smoky and spicy all at once. Make this chili for dinner and pack leftovers for your next few lunches!

West African Peanut Soup Recipe - cookieandkate.com

No. 16: West African Peanut Soup
Gluten free, vegan

Last but not least! This peanut soup is made with pantry staples and hearty greens. I thought peanuts in soup seemed weird until I had my first bite of this soup! Trust me.

If you’re on the hunt for even more dinner recipes that make good leftovers, try these:

Be sure to bookmark my new “pack for lunch” category for future reference and pin this page for later!

16 healthy lunch recipes that make great leftovers! Get them at cookieandkate.com

P.s. More roundups and resources you might like: 12 summer potluck dishes, 10 fresh and filling salad recipes, 10 favorite (vegetarian) Mexican recipes, 10 most popular recipes from 2013 and the fruit and vegetable tools you actually need. You can shop my healthy kitchen essentials here.


  1. says

    I love this! I’m always looking for new salads or meals I can take to work for lunch. I get tired of eating the same food over and over so I’m always looking for new recipes. Thank you so much for sharing those great food ideas!!!

  2. Nicole B. says

    These all look so delicious. I’ve been looking for some new healthy recipes to bring to lunch and I cant wait to try these. Thanks for sharing!

  3. says

    Love love love! All of it :) thank you for these great recipes! I’m always searching for easy, healthy recipes I can prepare in the evening and pack for lunch. And I love beans, by the way.

  4. says

    These look awesome! I particularly can’t wait to try the kale-based recipes as you can only get it in big bags here and I like to try and use it all. The lentil recipe looks great too :)

  5. gg says

    I really enjoy your blog – the recipes are great and I like your writing style. May I make a suggestion though? You have so many tags on your site (according to ghostery, 95 on this page alone) that the pages take an incredibly long time to load and the page is killed about 1/2 the time. If all of the tags are necessary, you might want to consider using google tag manager – it will increase your load time significantly. Just a friendly suggestion :)

      • gg says

        Hi Kate,

        It’s the pixels (or cookies) that are on your site (for criteo, adwords, analytics, etc). Hope that’s helpful, if not happy to answer any other questions I can.


        • says

          Thanks, GG! I thought that’s what you meant. I have very few of those scripts installed on my site. I think it’s just ad waterfalls that cause all those scripts to load. I’ve looked at other sites that load all their ads asynchronously through DFP and even then, quite a few scripts are loading. I’ll talk to my ad guy again and ask if he has any solutions for me. I want my site to load quickly!

  6. Evelyn says

    Thank you very much for these recipes, and for your new ‘pack for lunch’ category. Just a couple of days ago, I decided to toss the bread with cheese and try to healthen and spice up my lunches at the office. It’s like you knew just what I needed when I saw this post! Gonna give it a try, but with the easiness of most of the recipes, my new lunch regime shouldn’t be a problem. I make the peanut butter and cabbage noodles quite often and eat the leftovers the next day at work, but it always gives me a lot of strange looks since the red cabbage colors the noodles a bit blue overnight…

  7. Somer says

    Hey there! Found this on pinterest, and the recipes look amazing!
    Quick question: Doesn’t Farro have gluten? Thank you!

  8. Steph says

    Hi Kate,

    This is my first post on your site but I’ve been following you for a while. I was SO HAPPY to see the lentil, chickpea and radish salad made it on this list! That has filled my lunchbox and my belly many times, and has been a hit at more potlucks than I can count. I love the precooked lentils from TJs, too, and love just how easy this dish is to prepare…yet so satisfying to eat. Thank you for all the healthy inspiration and the heartwarming dog stories. As a fellow foodie and owner of 3 dogs, I just appreciate your blog so much. Keep up the great work!


    • says

      Steph, thank you for your sweet comment! I’m so glad to hear that you love that lentil salad! It’s a keeper. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  9. says

    I LOVE sweet salads that’s why I’d say the spinach and strawberry one is my fav. These past days I always ordered a salad with mango, grapes and walnuts as toppings. I can just recommend that as it’s heaven ;-)

    Also who says no to lentils with chickpeas, not me :D


  10. Tina says

    I made #4 (coconut quinoa salad) last night and it was amazing. I had to substitute roasted & salted almonds for the cashews (because I forgot to buy them) and I added chicken to make it more hearty for my husband. Of course, I have it packed in a mason jar for my lunch today too. Woot! Woot! Thank you for changing up the way I prepare a meal!

  11. Julie says

    I have been reading your blog and trying your recipes for several months. This collection of lunch recipes was so terrific that I needed to say THANKS! It is obvious that you put a lot of time and effort into your posts. I love that the recipes usually print on just 1 page and I know that is not by accident. I love your refreshing and fun commentary. I especially love the pictures!

  12. Jess says

    I just made your lemon-parsley bean salad and am eating my second bowl as I type. It is sooooo delicious. Thank you for all of these great recipes!

  13. Netta says

    The list on this post looks delicious. I am particularly interested in bean salads, because somehow I have managed to be vegetarian for over a decade and not ever made salad with beans. Now I have to remedy that!

    Funny though, I had slightly altered Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with me at the office today for lunch and can vouch that it travels very well and tastes great even when heated.

    P.S. Love your blog!

  14. says

    Ooh lots of great salad options! I always fall into a rut when I eat at work – it’ll either be a boring green salad or avocado and baked chicken on rice cakes! I could use a little variety in my life! Thanks for these options, I’m looking forward to trying them out.

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