10 Recipes to Seriously Upgrade Your Bring-to-Work Lunch

Even if you’re dining at your desk, your lunch can be beautiful and delicious.

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Just because you are brown bagging it doesn’t mean lunchtime has to be a lackluster rotation of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, limp salads, and messy pasta leftovers that threaten to spill all over your keyboard. These 10 meals are going to make packing lunch quick, easy, and delicious. Whether you get a long leisurely lunch hour with friends or you (more likely) find yourself tossing food in the general direction of your mouth while plugging away at your desk, you’ll love that these dishes are full of flavor and healthy ingredients to give you energy for the rest of the day. Not only are these lunch options much less expensive and more nutritious than those available at nearby restaurants or fast food joints, many of them can be doubled and made ahead so you have lunch for you (and perhaps a very lucky significant other) for several days running.

Southwestern Quinoa Mason Jar Salad

Mason jars! As much as they have a reputation for being overused, these super functional containers are a great, compact way for carrying food with you. In this recipe, the fresh flavors of corn, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes get dressed with a cumin-lime dressing and combined with hearty quinoa. Toss it and top with some chopped avocado, and you’re ready to eat.

Loaded Lentil Salad

While this veggie-packed salad would be amazing for dinner, it would also make the perfect lunch for those days when your stomach is grumbling and you check your watch and realize it’s only 10:30 in the morning. Refuel with this protein and fiber-filled lentil salad, seasoned with herbes de Provence and topped with crunchy pepitas. Red onions, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes turn this dish into an updated version of comfort food. It’s like bringing the coziness of home to work with you.

Orzo Salad

Fresh dill, feta, diced red onion, cucumber, and an herby lemon dressing keep this orzo salad feeling light and refreshing, while chickpeas add protein and a little heft. Try it out with whole wheat orzo for a more nutritious lunch that will only improve if it happens to get tumbled around in your bag a bit. To get a few more greens, we’d massage some kale and toss it in there, as well.

Pan Bagnat

The downside of bringing a sammie for lunch is that they often get soggy. Well, that’s actually the point of pan bagnat, a favorite Provencal sandwich that features tuna and hard boiled eggs usually on day-old bread. This version has a fennel, olive, and caper mixture that adds a salty, pungent flavor to the luscious “bathed bread.”

Roasted Cauliflower, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Quiche, in general, is an awesome lunch option. We love doing the work of making quiche at the beginning of the week and then having multiple meals and leftovers. This roasted cauliflower, mushroom, and goat cheese quiche has a crunchy quinoa crust, but you can swap it out for a more traditional crust if you like or even use a premade one. Feel free to add other veggies as the seasons change. The combo of egg and cheese and veggies never gets old.

Greek Hummus Wrap

It’s like a Greek salad all wrapped up! Using store-bought hummus and Greek vinaigrette makes this lunch a snap—you can even keep the basics in the company fridge so you can whip everything together on days when your lunch plans abruptly change. Chicken makes the wrap a filling midday meal, but feel free to sub in shrimp or simply add extra veggies.

Mediterranean Falafel Bowl With “Tabbouleh” Rice

Try falafel balls atop spiced rice and accompanied by cucumbers, hummus, pepperoncini peppers, and pita chips. Oh, and did we mentioned the whole bowl is drizzled with a spiced yogurt sauce? This recipe does admittedly take some time and prep so it’s best as leftovers. You’ll be looking forward to your lunch break all morning long.

Saucy Sesame Noodles

Sesame peanut noodles with julienned vegetables are a savory and satisfying lunch that also make for a fantastic potluck option. You’ll want to slather the sauce on everything, so feel free to double it and then steam a bunch of veggies and rice for another easy midday food break.

Soups On The Go

Soups are among our favorite lunches, but they are pretty unwieldy to bring with you to work. Make them a leak-proof lunchtime reality by layering thinly sliced and quick cooking veggies, carbs like rice noodles and couscous, and seasonings in a heat-proof container. When you are ready to eat, simply add water and microwave for a few minutes. Voila: Soup’s on!

Shrimp Lettuce Wrap

So simple, you’ll wonder why you haven’t made this a lunchtime staple sooner. Light and healthy, these lettuce wraps are fast and flavorful, but the combo of the shrimp and the avocados will keep you full for a long time. To keep everything fresh, consider keeping the components separate and then assembling the lettuce wraps when you are ready to eat.