Creating quick and simple healthy lunch ideas is a constant challenge.
School has started and you’re looking for quick, simple and healthy lunch ideas. I’m sure you’ve got a to-do list full of tasks for the kids and yourself this school year. It can be hard to figure out what to make for lunch with limited time and pantry items. Let me help make your job easier this school year with some healthy meal ideas.
Many people think that lunch is a waste of time and a huge contributor to getting stressed out in the middle of the day. If you’re like most people, your lunch is a sandwich or a microwave burrito. I recommend though something more substantial but quick, easy and healthy.
Quick Simple Healthy Lunch Ideas
Here’s a case for these quick lunch ideas: It’s midday, you’re working hard, the Slacks are pinging, and your stomach is growling. It’s time to take a pause to eat lunch, but you only have 30 minutes and you know you will get scurvy if you make boxed mac and cheese again. Whatever do you do?! You step away from the pantry vortex and consult this list, of course! Whether it’s a bowlful of gussied-up tuna salad, a biiig batch of nachos (with veggies!), or a fortifying pile of stir-fried tofu and mushrooms over rice, these lunch ideas will get you from hangry to hustling in no time.
1. Caesar Salad With Yogurt-Parmesan Dressing
This Caesar salad’s dressing is made with yogurt, which packs probiotics for a healthy gut. It’s cheesy, delicious, and doubles as a dip for cut up veggies or chips.
2. Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Here, chickpeas roll in for a vegetarian version of a chicken salad sandwich (read: not your grandmother’s). If you want to lighten it up, swap yogurt for the mayo. Once you try it you’ll be brown-bagging one daily—and it’s so quick, you’ll have no excuse not to make it.
3. Sweet Potato-and-Kale Tortilla Soup
This comforting bowl of tortilla soup is made righteous (and anti-inflammatory) with heart-healthy sweet potatoes and kale. Have it with or without the shredded rotisserie chicken. The softened corn tortillas plump up in the broth and go deliciously with the crispy ones on top. Avocado, radishes, and cilantro freshen it up, but are totally optional.
4. Celery and Apple Salad With Toasted Buckwheat
Celery, apple, and toasted buckwheat pack a variety of tasty textures that make this healthy lunch idea extremely satisfying. Toasted buckwheat is a fun and nutritious add-on that fits into a gluten-free diet. Bonus: this healthy pick doesn’t wilt like other salads by the time the clock hits lunchtime.
5. Cauliflower Tartine With Romesco Sauce
This delicious open-faced sandwich may look fancy, but we promise it’s super easy to make. You’ll start with the delicious combination of Romesco and cauliflower, then add golden raisins and fresh parsley to the mix for a bright—and subtly sweet—kick. Don’t love one (or both)? No problem: you can use cilantro and chopped dates instead.
6. Classic Chicken and Dumplings
We can all agree that there are few lunches more comforting than classic chicken and dumplings. The magic in this recipe starts with chicken thighs that get browned then simmered to make a homemade chicken stock that serves as the base of the soup. Just a few ingredients go into the dumplings, which get dropped right into the soup and cooked. Garnish with parsley and serve with fresh sourdough or challah bread.
7. Green Chilaquiles
Complete with homemade oven-baked tortilla chips and a green enchilada sauce, this recipe for chilaquiles is about to become your new go-to for lunch leftovers. The sauce adds moisture back to the turkey meat, and thinly sliced radishes bring all the fresh crunch. Add a fried egg on top to give it an extra kick.
8. Slow-Roasted Citrus Salmon
A gorgeous side of salmon deserves a worthy preparation, like this recipe, in which you’ll slow-roast a side of salmon sandwiched between layers of lemon and orange slices, topped with sprigs of dill and oil.
9. Eggplant-Mushroom Meatball Sub
These Eggplant Mushroom Meatball Subs are so satisfying, we guarantee you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with meatball sandwiches that actually contain meat. The eggplant and mushrooms each pack plenty of delicious savory flavor and serve as a solid source of protein, too.
10. Slow-Cooker Bean and Spinach Enchiladas
We found a method of making this delicious dish without the extra work of cooking the filling, then rolling, then baking: the slow cooker. If you’re feeling a bit tired of eating leftover tacos for lunch, these easy enchiladas are the perfect swap.
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Simple Lunch Ideas With Only Three Ingredients
How many times have you vowed to pack lunch more often, but ended up going back to Chipotle/pizza/insert-fast-food-of-choice after the first 3 days?
We get it. Between planning breakfasts in advance and meal-prepping dinners for the week, thinking about a home-cooked lunch can seem like added stress you just don’t need.
Don’t worry, we’re making it super easy for you. These healthy lunch ideas use only three main ingredients each (not counting oils, pantry seasonings, or broth), making it easier than ever to stick to your brown-bagging goals.
1. Baked Cheddar Cauliflower Bites
Cauliflower pizza is so hot right now. But if you need something a bit more lunch box-friendly, these bites are the way to go.
They basically use the ingredients for cauliflower pizza crust, just in muffin form. If you’re feeling indulgent, add pizza sauce on the side for dipping — it’s a fourth ingredient, but totally worth it.
2. Bacon Asparagus Frittata
A frittata doesn’t have to just be a breakfast item. Convenient and quick, it’s a smart option for any meal.
With bacon and asparagus — both classic combos with eggs — this one is a little bit healthy, a little bit indulgent, and a whole lot tasty.
3. Skinny Asparagus And Feta Quiche
Quiche is an easy meal that packs in lots of protein. This crustless version makes the most of the fillings, using a ton of asparagus, crumbled feta for savory flavor, and liquid egg whites for added convenience.
4. 3-Ingredient Salmon
One of the ingredients in this recipe is a pantry spice, so technically, all you really need is salmon and lemon juice.
Pair the perfectly cooked fish with some nutty brown rice, quinoa, or freekeh, and you’re still falling within the three-ingredient parameters.
5. 3-Ingredient Tomato Tortellini Soup
Soupy pasta for lunch is always a good idea. Store-bought tortellini helps out here to make this three-ingredient recipe the easiest soup you’ve ever made. Ready in just 15 minutes, it might also be the quickest.
6. Easy 3-Ingredient Chili
From spices galore to cups and cups of chopped veggies, some chili recipes throw in everything but the kitchen sink.
This one opts for some salsa for the veggie component, a can of beans, and some ground beef. It’s simple, hearty, and classic.
7. 3-Ingredient Tuna Avocado Salad
Even with just three ingredients, this salad is loaded with nutrition. For starters, the tuna is an excellent source of protein.
The avocado then provides everything that mayo can’t: monounsaturated fats, fiber, a whole bunch of vitamins, and antioxidants.
8. 3-Ingredient Avocado Kale Salad
It looks like a simple salad, but with half an avocado per serving massaged into those kale leaves, this pile of greens is more filling than it appears. Still, it’s the perfect choice for a light lunch and easily portable.
9. The 3-Ingredient Tempeh Burger
Tempeh, like tofu, soaks up pretty much any flavor you put on it. Here, it’s blended into burger form with an egg (how cool is that?).
The last ingredient is a whole lot of harissa paste, a super-flavorful African spice. Eat the patty alone, or put it in a bun with your favorite burger fixins.
10. Avocado Cream Cheese Sandwich
Whether you’re packing these sandwiches into your kids’ lunch boxes or your own, they’re a guaranteed hit. With buttery avocado, a smear of cream cheese, and soft, wheat bread, how could they not be?
11. Super-Simple Hummus Chicken Salad
A rotisserie chicken and some hummus make lunchtime a delicious no-brainer. Make the recipe with only three ingredients by tucking the protein-packed salad into a wrap or lettuce leaves.
12. Chickpea Avocado Mash With Lemon
Need a vegan version of that avocado tuna salad? No problem. This recipe swaps out the fish for chickpeas instead, managing to keep the dish high in protein. The beans also provide lots of fiber and low-glycemic carbs.
13. Easy Homemade Pizza Rolls
A healthier take on crescent pizza rolls, these pinwheels use tortillas instead. Slather on your favorite pizza sauce and your preferred cheese, roll up, and devour.
They’re not only easy to make, but they’re also a really fun lunch-box treat, no matter how old you are.
14. 3-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Taco Chicken
With salsa and taco seasoning pitching in for flavoring, and the slow cooker doing the actual… well, cooking, this easy make-ahead dish requires literally zero effort.
Stuff the spiced chicken into tortillas, pile it onto a salad, or stir it with rice. It’s one recipe, but you can turn it into several different meals to make lunch exciting all week.
15. Mushroom Rice Pilaf
Meaty mushrooms lend so much earthy flavor and texture to this simple brown rice dish, it’s no wonder you don’t need a bunch of extra ingredients to make it taste good.
It’s the perfect meal to make when you’re low on produce but still want something nourishing in your belly.
16. 3-Ingredient Sausage Marinara Zoodles
Instead of spaghetti, zucchini spirals go for a quick dip in boiling water to get perfectly al dente. Paired with spaghetti sauce and sausage, it tastes so noodle-like, you’ll feel like you’re digging into a huge pasta lunch.
17. 3-Ingredient Creamy Tomato Shells
It’s hard to believe you can make rich, velvety pasta with just three ingredients, but thanks to cashews, it’s possible.
Instead of cheese or cream, the nuts get blended with pasta sauce, creating a creamy coating for the shells — or whatever pasta you choose to use.
18. Pasta And Beans
Pasta e fagioli usually involves pancetta and fresh herbs. This version simplifies things by using pasta sauce; the garlic and spices are already in there.
It also omits the meat to make this a vegetarian-friendly soup. Make it three ingredients — and vegan — by holding the cheese.
19. Zoodles With Turkey Meatballs
Three-ingredient spaghetti and meatballs? Well, close enough. With a simple tomato sauce, zucchini noodles, turkey, and a few dry spices in the meatballs, this recipe proves that getting back to basics can be delicious.