Eating too many sad desk lunches these days? No more! Below, you’ll find roughly 45 of my favorite recipes that pack well for lunch. Since there are so many, I’ve tried to design this roundup so it’s easy to skim through.
The recipes are grouped by category, with notes on how to best pack and enjoy them. You might be more interested in the hearty salads this time of year, and the soups in a few months. Bookmark this page to stay inspired!
You can also check out my full “pack for lunch” category, which I pulled from to create this guide. 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.
Last but not least, if you’re in the market for some sturdy, non-toxic, spill-proof lunch containers, I love these (affiliate link).
Main Dishes that Reheat Well
As I looked at my favorite make-ahead main dishes, a few common themes presented themselves:
- Veggie-packed casseroles, including but not limited to enchiladas and lasagna.
- Brown rice and whole grain dishes, from Thai curries to fried rice to paella.
- Hearty pasta dishes, because we all need something to look forward to at lunch.
Cook one up for dinner and enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day. If you have extra, freeze individual portions for future grab-and-go lunches.
When all else fails, grab a freezer burrito. They’re better than fast food!
Brown Rice & Whole Grains
Salads that Pack Particularly Well
I have a million salad recipes on the blog, but some are better suited for leftovers than others. Delicate greens wilt when they’re exposed to acidic salad dressings. You can bypass this situation by using the mason jar salad technique with the dressing on the bottom.
Or, make hardy salads with beans, pasta, quinoa or kale. If you want to perk up the leftovers before eating, pack them up with a wedge of lemon or keep some flaky sea salt in your desk drawer.
Hearty Soups, Stews & Chilis
Last but not least, all hearty soups pack great for lunch. In fact, they taste even better the next day. Be sure to let them cool to room temperature before transferring portions leaf-proof containers.
Soups and stews keep well in the refrigerator for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to six months.
Want to bring a simple side salad? Pack up some fresh greens in a separate container, and keep some good olive oil, thick balsamic vinegar, and flaky sea salt in your desk drawer. A little drizzle of each, plus a sprinkle of salt, yields the best simple salad dressing.
I love Napa Valley Naturals’ Grand Reserve Vinegar—it’s about $9 at well-stocked grocery stores like Whole Foods. Make sure you get the bottle with “25 stars” on it.
More resources you might appreciate: 23 make-ahead breakfast recipes, 17 easy & healthy side dishes and 20 simple weeknight dinners. You can shop my essential kitchen equipment here. Don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest for a steady stream of recipe inspiration!