Brighten up your easy, healthy packed-lunch ideas with low-fuss recipes. With fresh salads, cinchy sandwiches, and simple snacks, our collection of healthy lunches to pack for work, school, or any on-the-road activity will save you from not-so-smart choices at the drive-through or vending machine. With a close eye on calories, we made sure each brown bag lunch idea is full of protein and nutrients.
Santa Fe Turkey Wraps
While we originally dreamed up this concept as a picnic recipe, it works just as well as a brown bag lunch idea. That's because it's designed to be prepped 4 hours ahead and chilled until nosh o'clock. Schmear a tortilla with peppery cream cheese, then layer on chopped turkey (or chicken, steak, or plant-based meat), oodles of veggies, and dressing. It will be tough to wait until noon once you see how yummy these look!
Avocado-Yogurt Spaghetti with Veggies
Amp up the veggies and cut back on refined starches. Voila! Pasta absolutely lands in "easy, healthy packed-lunch" territory. In this 30-minute meal, we stretch 3 ounces of whole-grain spaghetti to feed 4 by bolstering it with sautéed veggies, an avocado-yogurt sauce, and fresh herbs.
Seasoned lean meat, cauliflower rice, fresh guacamole, and an abundance of veggies; we like everything about it! To pack this fiber-filled healthy packed lunch, assemble your burrito bowl in a container with a tight-fitting lid, but leave off the lime dressing. Storing the dressing separately keeps the layers fresh and flavorful for this restaurant remake recipe.
Shrimp and Broccoli Noodle Bowl
Grab your chopsticks and dig into this Asian-inspired noodle salad. Succulent shrimp provides lean protein, while fresh snow pea pods, green onions, and broccoli slaw get you well on your way to your vegetable quota for the day. For maximum crunch, pack sesame seeds separately and add just before eating this low-fat brown bag lunch idea.
Sweet Potato, White Bean Hummus, and Israeli Salad
Whether you're gluten-free, vegan, or flexitarian, this healthy lunch to pack for work will satisfy (and fit your diet plan). Hey, it will even satisfy full-fledged carnivores with the richly textured steamed sweet potatoes, hearty homemade hummus, and filling vegetable salad. If you're in a hurry, feel free to swap in your favorite store-bought dip or hummus rather than going the DIY route.
Crunchy PB-and-A Wrap
Please picky eaters and pile on the nutrition all at once. These 5-minute wraps are the almost-instant solution! Soggy sandwiches are a thing of the past thanks to whole wheat flour tortillas. Use them to roll up this brown bag lunch idea along with crunchy granola and juicy bites of apple.
Greek Sloppy Joe Pitas
Mediterranean cuisine meets comfort food in these crowd-pleasing pita pockets. Fill purchased pita rounds with fork-tender lamb, crunchy cucumber, and chickpeas for a fabulous healthy bagged lunch. Pack the red wine-simmered mixture in a separate container to avoid soggy pitas.
Granny Smith apple, Gouda cheese, and dried fruit give this tasty grain salad its complex flavor. (Psst ... you can totally make this with leftover or rotisserie chicken instead of turkey if that's what you have on hand.) To make it grab-and-go-friendly, place this brown bag lunch idea in a container with a tight-fitting lid and put your favorite light salad dressing in a separate container.
Turkey Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce
No need to order takeout from your favorite Asian bistro today. Just take these perfectly portable, low-cal lettuce wraps to work with you! Use a small container with a tight-fitting lid to store the spicy dipping sauce and pack lettuce leaves separately in a resealable plastic bag. To assemble this simple brown bag lunch idea, load up your lettuce with the chicken-veggie mixture and a drizzle of sauce when midday rolls around.
DIY Asian-Inspired Main Dishes Way Better Than Takeout
Meet your goal to eat more fruits and veggies with this filling lunch salad that includes a full serving of both. All in just 15 minutes! Bright sliced strawberries and sweet peppers create the colorful, nutritive middle layer in this easy, healthy brown bag lunch idea.
Picadillo-Style Chicken Taco Salad
Salads don't get more flavorful than this glorious healthy packed lunch, featuring ground chicken simmered in an olive, tomato, and prune (yep, prune!) sauce. For optimal crunch, store the crushed tostada shell and saucy chicken mixture in separate containers. Add them to the lettuce and cheese when you're ready to chow down.
Avocado and Tomatillo Sandwiches with Pesto
Homemade ingredients such as pickled red onions and fresh herb pesto keep this easy, healthy packed-lunch recipe fresh and flavorful. Four healthy green veggies—avocado, tomatillo, cucumber, and lettuce—combine in these low-cal, whole grain sandwiches.
Brown Bag Lunch Tip: To prevent avocado from browning, brush lightly with lime juice.
Tofu Spring Rolls
Beat the boredom of plain lunch meat with these fast spring rolls that make a fresh and healthy lunch to pack for work. (This is also a total win for vegetarians and vegans!) Savory baked tofu and mint lend flavor to these crunchy rolls, which can be dipped in soy sauce or Asian sweet chili sauce.
Brown Bag Lunch Tip: To prevent spring rolls from sticking together, wrap each one individually in plastic wrap before storing in an insulated container.
White Bean Tuna Salad
Hooray for a tuna-starring lunch that doesn't involve mayonnaise! And with this low-cal salad's homemade vinaigrette and flavor-packed ingredients like arugula and red onion, you'll never miss the white stuff. Tote the vinaigrette and lemon dressing separately from the tuna, beans, and greens mixture, then assemble your salad just before serving for the freshest, crunchiest results.
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Smoked Salmon Flatbread
Gather six good-for-you ingredients and in just 20 minutes, you can create this brown bag lunch idea that packs a nutritional punch. A thin layer of chives-and-onion cream cheese provides a tangy base for this smoked salmon sandwich, while radishes lend a pleasant amount of crunch. Lucky enough to have leftover seared salmon from last night's dinner? Use it here instead of the smoked salmon.
Sweet and Tangy Chicken Wrap
Fat-free Greek yogurt, combined with honey and garlic powder, is a healthy substitute for traditional salad dressing. Use it to coat chicken in this spinach- and pomegranate-filled wrap recipe. If you prefer, transform this low-fat brown bag lunch from wrap to sandwich by stuffing the filling inside an English muffin, bagel, or two slices of whole wheat bread.
Shredded carrot and cucumber add delicious crunch and fiber to this 286-calorie sandwich spread with dreamy sour cream ranch dip. For an even lower-cal sandwich, substitute light dip for regular. To prep the healthy packed lunch, wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap to keep its layers neat until lunchtime.
Brown Bag Lunch Tip: If you're building this sandwich recipe more than 4 hours ahead, we recommend storing the sour cream ranch dip separately.
Fast Nicoise Salad
Go ahead, indulge in forkfuls of lemony tuna, juicy tomatoes, browned potato wedges, and hard-cooked egg. All of that loaded into this brown bag lunch idea can be yours for fewer than 250 calories. (Yes, please!) Drizzle the classic French salad with Dijon-spiked dressing just before eating.
Orzo-Chicken Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing
When it comes to healthy chicken salad, it's all about the dressing. Blend smooth avocado and lime with garlic and snappy red pepper for a cool coating you won't be able to (or want to!) resist. Spoon over a base of iron-rich orzo and golden corn right before eating this brown bag lunch idea.
Caprese Salad Pita Pockets
We adore Caprese salad so much as a starter and side that we transformed it into the main dish in this easy, healthy packed lunch. Fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil create this Italian-inspired recipe. Spoon the oil-tossed ingredients in a whole wheat pita just before munching so the bread won't get soggy.