Easy Lunch Ideas for Workdays and School Days
Avoid #SadDeskLunch with these easy lunch ideas perfect for workdays and school days. From classic sandwiches to salads, soups, bento boxes, and more.
Lunch is the one meal that can easily get lost when planning meals. If you need inspiration for delicious, quick, and easy lunch ideas, there’s plenty here to choose from.
Most are 10 minutes or less or they’re easily made in advance for delicious lunches you’ll actually look forward to.
Tips for Making Quick and Easy Lunches
Quick and easy shortcuts to help make lunches during the week:
- Prep vegetables ahead: Cut and peel carrot and celery sticks, chop cabbage for quick slaws and use pre-cut and washed vegetables when possible.
- Rostisserie chicken: One of my favorite shortcut tips. Shred chicken to use for salads, sandwiches and more. If you have extra, freeze for quick soups and stews too.
- Store-bought dressings: They add flavor and bring lunches together quickly.
- Make ahead: Make as much ahead as possible. Pasta and quinoa salads are delicious for lunch, use the Instant Pot to make it ahead and have it ready to go.
How to Pack a Healthy Lunch for School
Insider Magazine says you should include the following for a child’s healthy lunch each day. I would say it’s a great rule of thumb for not sad desk lunches too!
- Whole grain
- Healthy fat
- Water or other non-sugary drink
- Napkins or wet ones
- Something fun or sweet (this doesn’t have to be every day!)
More Recipes to Try!
Easy Lunch Ideas for the Workdays and School Days
5 ways to make avocado toast for quick and easy lunch ideas.
Ultimate Hummus Sandwich
"You don’t have to reserve hummus just for carrots and pita triangles! It works as a sandwich spread that’s full of plant-based protein to keep you full for hours. Throw it on bread with all your favorite crunchy veggies and it’s a lunch or snack that couldn’t be easier to whip up."
Charcuterie Bistro Lunch Box
"Inspired by Starbucks' bistro boxes, this packable lunch is just like a personal-size cheese plate to take on-the-go. The healthy and easy snack-style meal is perfect to take for lunch at work."
Chickpea Salad Sandwich
"I love a go-to recipe that’s every bit as delicious (and satisfying) as the first time I made it, regardless of how many times it’s on repeat. Even better? When the said recipe is as easy as tossing everything into a bowl and dressing it up with whatever ingredients I have on hand. Enter: my chickpea salad sandwich."
The Easy Chicken Salad Recipe You Should Know by Heart
"Who doesn’t love a fresh and easy chicken salad recipe? With the perfect blend of creamy and crunchy, this lunchtime staple can be enjoyed on its own, over greens or sandwiched between two slices of crusty bread. While you can buy premade varieties at the store, nothing tops the flavor of homemade chicken salad. It’s also a yummy way to use up last night’s leftover chicken."
Indian Spiced Chickpea Wraps
"Raita, an Indian condiment made with yogurt, elevates this vegetarian dish to a satisfying gourmet wrap. If you're in the mood to experiment, try diced mango or cucumber for the pineapple and add fresh herbs like cilantro or mint."
5 Minute Protein Veggie Wraps
You're eating a healthy rainbow of colors with this 5-minute, delicious wrap that gives ample energy to finish the day.
Open-Faced Pizza Burgers
"I'm not sure where I first saw this pizza burger recipe, but I'm glad I did! My family requests this meal often. A dash of oregano livens up canned pizza sauce."
Salmon Burgers in 15 Minutes or Less
Crispy Salmon Burgers, yes, in 15 minutes or less. How does that sound? Made easy with mostly pantry ingredients you may already have on hand.
Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
This Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup recipe is amazingly delicious, packed with flavor, and super quick and easy to make. The flavors blend beautifully and makes for a delicious lunch or light dinner.
10 Minute Make Ahead White Bean Salad with a Quick Vinaigrette
If you have 10 minutes, this White Bean Salad is for you. Packed with healthy protein, this creamy salad is filled with fresh vegetables and herbs. And then dressed in a deliciously simple vinaigrette.
Simple Ham Salad: Quick and Delicious
A simple ham salad recipe elevated to incredible with the addition of a few unique ingredients. And is utterly delicious. Ready in 10 minutes, it's a salad you'll make all season!
Quinoa Salad Recipe
This Quinoa Salad is a favorite healthy salad, packed with vegetables and herbs, and perfect for lunches, picnics, and sides.
Turkey Salad with Pear Dressing
"This salad is perfect for using up leftover turkey, chicken or deli meat. Anjou pears are such a great winter fruit."
Italian-Style Veggie Wraps
"Yummy! There are so many great flavors and textures in these wraps. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients—use mozzarella, pepperoni or any combo you like."
Easy Pasta Salad
This Mediterranean-inspired Pasta Salad is a favorite with salami, peppers, broccoli, zesty Italian dressing, and Feta cheese.
Taco Salad Bento Lunch for Kids
"No more half-eaten lunches--this taco-inspired bento box lunch is a healthy and portable meal your kid will love."
Instant Healthy Homemade Noodle Cups To Go
If you're a fan of noodle cups but shy away from unhealthy ingredients, these ideas are perfect for making your own lunch with healthy ingredients you actually recognize.
Mason Jar Salads
Jar salads are great not only for picnics but quick pack and go lunches, or desk lunches, that are healthy and delicious.
Slow Cooker Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons
This Slow Cooker Tomato Vegetable Soup is a dream to come home to at the end of a busy day. It's creamy, and fresh, and incredibly delicious.
"Sorry desk neighbor, this tuna melt is worth any and all side eye."
Bean and Rice Burrito
"Fresh or leftover beans (black, pinto, or kidney beans work here) and rice come together to make a simple but tasty lunch. The beans are flavored with spices, garlic, and hot sauce while the rice gets a dressing of lime juice and cilantro. Add additional fillings to the burrito if you like and serve with salsa."