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.
Want to add extra protein to these salads? You could top them with homemade falafel, veggie burger patty, crispy baked tofu, or even a slice of frittata.
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!
Kale, kale, kale! Such a good vegetable for a long-lasting salad. Still, I think I am most intrigued by that black-eyed pea salad. So tasty.
Oh, my beloved kale! It’s good for so many reasons. Hope you give the black-eye pea salad a try soon, Eileen!
Mmnmm all of these recipes sound so good!! Love quinoa, love beans, love kale, how am I going to choose which one to try first?
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!!!
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!
Thanks, Nicole! I hope you’re enjoying some fun new lunches!
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.
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 :)
These dishes are truly wonderful! Thank you for sharing. I will definitely make several of these for my guests.
These look so delicious. I’ve been making packed lunches for my new job and am in need of some inspiration so thank you for sharing these!
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 :)
Hi! I’ve been working on my site load lately. Can you please tell me what you mean by tags? Scripts?
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.
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!
This is awesome. I’m packing a mason jar lunch for tomorrow. Thank you!
Thanks, Mickey! Hope you enjoyed your mason jar lunch!
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…
Evelyn, you’re welcome! Hope you’re enjoying some fresher lunches. Too funny about the blue noodles!
Hey there! Found this on pinterest, and the recipes look amazing!
Quick question: Doesn’t Farro have gluten? Thank you!
Yes, it does! Thank you for pointing out my error. I just corrected the post.
Brian @ A Thought For Food
I’m into all of these. Always looking for unique, vegetarian lunches. And here I have 16 wonderful options!
Yaaaay!! This post and the pack for lunch category will be SO helpful for me! Thanks!
You’re welcome! :)
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!
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!
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
Alex @ DelishKnowledge
Great roundup! Love all of these, can’t wait to try the peanut soup!
Sarah @ People, Places & Plates
Great roundup! Always looking for good packable lunch food!
Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
pinning this whole post! I am always looking for new salad recipes to try, t hank you. and that soup…yum!!!
Thanks for the pins, Dixya! :)
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!
Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the salad and mason jar tips, Tina! :)
I need to rotate through all of these bad boys. And by bad boys I mean OH SO YUMMY.
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!
Julie, thank you so much for your sweet comment! I really appreciate it. :) Hope you are having a lovely weekend!!!
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!
Yay! Thanks, Jess!
Holly @ The Very Hungry Blonde
Thanks for this post! I’m in my last year of college and spending pretty much all of my time either on campus or at work, so it’s nice to know that I have nutritional, homemade options that I can carry with me!
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!
Oh my goodness, no bean salads ever?! They’re a staple for me. Thanks for vouching for my chili! :D
Maresa | the lovely
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.
Oh my goodness THANK YOU!! The lunch dilemma is solved.All of these look incredible.
Hi there :) I’ve recently been considering trying out the vegetarian lifestyle and this list has inspired me go for it! I’m so glad I found this amazing website. All these recipes look delicious – you are a food genius!
Thank you so much, Emma! Best of luck with your vegetarian endeavors! :)
Beautiful website, even on my tiny old phone. Easy to get around and full of ideas. Yay for no slide shows! Cool graphics at the end. Plus it helped me out of a weekly meal planning rut. Thanks!!!
So I really love your cooking ideas. Can you please include more recipes that are easy for lunch?
I find myself running out of ideas quickly and I feel like I need to try more K&C lunch recipes :)
Thanks for all you do!
I love the chickpea & lentil salad — I make it all the time!
Oh, good to hear!
Found your web-pages when googling recipes how to use kale (it grows very well in my garden). And found your great salads. Tried the asian style one and loved it. Thank you! Greetings from other side of planet. :)
Great! I’m so glad you enjoy it, Jonna. Garden-fresh kale sounds heavenly. :) Hello from Kansas City!
Just to say that your website & cookbook are awesome. The way I describe you to my friends here in London is the North American Yotam Ottalenghi.
Your instructions and advice is so clear and helpful.
The salads are wonderful and refrigerate so well. In terms of recipes they are al awesome but I think the Kale,almond, cranberry, celery et al salad from your book is just huge.
Thank you soo much for transforming my confidence in the kitchen and our health.
Thank you so much! I appreciate the comment and support, Charmaine.
Your recipes are so cool! My usual everyday dinner is box lasagna. Cookie is so cute! I have a dog too. Thanks for putting so much effort into making this site!
Thank you, Shelsea!
OMG, Thank you ,Thank you and Thank you for these recipes. You are a legend and you have given me the BEST recipes for my breakfast and lunches.
You the BEST.
Kindest Regards Rani
The spicy kale and coconut fried rice is my go-to lunch! Healthy, packs well, lasts a few days, and doesn’t feel too heavy. I love putting leftover veggies to use in it :) My boyfriend loves it too!
Thanks for sharing, Cathy!
These recipes look great to me. Alas, I’m looking for lunch ideas for my 11-year old son instead of myself and struggling for ideas that fit.
I’m glad this is helpful!
I’ve been looking for some good lunch/dinner recipes that are packed with protein but are mostly vegan. I ran across this in a google search and I can’t wait to try most of these recipes! Thanks so much!
Be sure to comment and let me know what you think once you try them!
I have been hunting for lunch ideas to bring to work. Cannot wait to try these!!
Let me know what you think when you try them!
Paige Cassandra Flamm
Totally saving this for when I start my new job in a few weeks!
Good luck with the new gig!
I seriously make that ‘favorite quinoa salad’ recipe almost every week! It’s the perfect lunch and it keeps well in the fridge for my whole work week.
I agree! A great lunch option. I’m happy you love it, too!