4 Make-Ahead Lunch Boxes That Will Make You Rethink a Packed Lunch
Treat yourself to a fun midday meal with easy, produce-packed portable lunches that are anything but boring.
A fun packed lunch isn't just for the kids: These midday meals are colorful, portable, and loaded with veggies. We dare you not to spend the morning counting the minutes until lunch—they're that good. Plus, we've packed ours in fun, durable, leak-proof containers you'll love. If you go for bento-style boxes with built-in compartments, you will naturally be drawn to fill them with an assortment of colorful foods, including a variety of fruits and vegetables. We like LunchBots stainless steel bento boxes (from $20) , with options for one, two, three, or five compartments.
Related: Lunch Boxes Your Kids Will Love
3 Bibb lettuce leaves
1 cup Lemon-Thyme Chicken Salad
1 celery stalk, cut into 4 pieces
4 Peppadew peppers stuffed with 1 oz. goat cheese and sprinkled with thyme
2/3 cup cantaloupe cubes or slices
View Recipe: Lemon-Thyme Chicken Salad
We’ve bypassed mayo for a fresher, zestier approach to chicken salad. Creamy Greek yogurt teams up with a little olive oil for richness and gets spiked with fragrant lemon rind and woodsy fresh thyme. We poach boneless, skinless chicken breasts with bay leaves to infuse flavor and keep the chicken moist. You can substitute 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast, but know that it will taste saltier; hold off on the added salt and taste for seasoning—it might not need it.
2 cups Farro, Green Bean, and Kale Salad
1 hard-cooked large egg, halved and wrapped with 2 dill sprigs and 1/4 oz. prosciutto
1 clementine or small orange
View Recipe: Farro, Green Beans, and Kale Salad
Pouched precooked farro (which you’ll find on the rice and grains aisle of some larger supermarkets) is a great product to keep on hand. It’ll keep for months in the pantry, reheats in just 90 seconds, and is versatile enough to go into salads, soups, pilafs, and more. You can also cook your own farro if you have time; you’ll need 2 cups for this recipe. This salad holds up beautifully for several days, so feel free to double the recipe and have lunch in the bag for nearly the whole week.
1 Smoked Salmon Sushi Sandwich
4 oz. cooked Broccolini tossed with 1/8 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup steamed edamame in pods tossed with 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
View Recipe: Smoked Salmon Sushi Sandwiches
Love sushi rolls, but feel intimidated by the rolling technique? Then sushi sandwiches—actually a traditional Japanese dish called onigirazu—will be right up your alley. They require simply layering ingredients onto a piece of nori (seaweed) then folding the nori around to form a packet.
3 Tbsp. Spiced Apple Chutney
2 Tbsp. Marcona almonds
1/2 cup seedless red or green grapes
1 oz. thinly sliced whole-wheat baguette, toasted or grilled
3/4 oz. soppressata, thinly sliced
4 radishes (such as red and watermelon)
View Recipe: Spiced Apple Chutney
Here's an easy homemade condiment that's tangy and sweet with a little spicy kick. It's delicious as part of a cheese board, on a burger or sandwich, with pork chops or pork tenderloin, or tucked into the ultimate snack lunch, as we've done here.