Photo: Colin Price

Bonus: They’re super easy to pack.

Arielle Weg
January 10, 2018

When I was a kid there was never much variety when it came to my lunches, especially since I was a vegetarian: My mom would send me off to school with either a lean cuisine packed in a thermos or a cheese sandwich.

As I got older and started making my own meals, I moved away from the cheese sandwiches but still I found it tricky to be creative with what I brought with my to school or work.

New Year. New Food. Healthy eating starts here, with the Cooking Light Diet.

There was always the humble sandwich, but too many veggies and the bread gets soggy. Not enough vegetables and I was hungry an hour later.

Pasta was always an option, but trying to eat healthy made it difficult to find tasty options. I finally arrived at the point where I needed to find just a few staple recipes I could turn to in my time of need (a.k.a. when I’m throwing something together before work at the last minute).

That’s where these come in. These 10 recipes have gotten me through months of lunchtime woes. They’re all super easy to pack away for work, totally vegetarian, and (most importantly) I honestly don’t ever get tired of eating them. If you’re a vegetarian, or just a flexitarian looking to switch things up, give these a try.

Romaine, Celery, and Parmesan Salad

Photo: Iain Bagwell

If there’s one salad I could eat every day it’s this one. I eat it so much I even have the recipe memorized and keep the ingredients on hand.

Mix together dill, mayonnaise, and lemon juice for a perfectly tangy dressing, and toss in celery for an unexpected crunch. It’s as satisfying as croutons.

View the recipe:  Romaine, Celery, and Parmesan Salad

Tortellini with Zucchini and Peas

Photo: Greg Dupree

This pasta holds up great in the fridge, so you can prep some for the entire week. Plus it’s perfect warmed in a microwave or eaten at room temperature.

The shaved zucchini adds unbelievable texture, while the tortellini brings a cheesy bite. Don’t forget a teaspoon of lemon rind. It brightens up the dish in ways you definitely don’t expect.

View the recipe: Tortellini with Zucchini and Peas

Greek Spaghetti Squash Toss

There’s a ton going on in this low-carb lunch. It’s almost too good to be true.

The tomatoes, garlic, onion, and thyme create a light sauce while the feta cheese melts perfectly into every forkful. You can prep containers of this in advance, and then pop one in the microwave when you’re ready to eat.

View the recipe:  Greek Spaghetti Squash Toss

Autumn Glow Salad

Photo: Greg DuPree

I’m still dreaming about this decadent, cold weather salad. The arugula base brings a peppery bite to the table, balanced with the super creamy lentils, butternut squash, and mouth watering tahini dressing.

If that’s not enough, top it with feta cheese for an extra cheesy bite. Perfection.

View the recipe: Autumn Glow Salad

Farro Burrito Bowl

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

The sweet and spicy dressing stands out in this Mexican-inspired bowl. You’ll look forward to it all week long, especially because you can mix up different varieties of roasted vegetables, beans, and cheese for a different version every day. Plus who doesn’t love lunch topped with avocado? It isn’t even extra.

View the recipe:  Farro Burrito Bowl

Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Soft Boiled Egg

Greg DuPree

We already dubbed this The Only Kale Salad Recipe You Need This Winter, and though that might not be totally true (variety is the spice, etc.) it’s definitely a top lunch contender. The trick is to boil the egg to a beautiful, jammy texture. The remainder of the salad is simply tossed together into a hearty, kale feast.

View the recipe:  Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Soft Boiled Egg

Greek Chopped Salad with Grilled Pita

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Greek salads are pretty old school, but this version is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Cannellini beans, feta cheese, and a perfectly tart homemade dressing are everything you need to take this classic to the next level.

View the recipe:  Greek Chopped Salad with Grilled Pita

Farro, Green Bean, and Kale Salad

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Grain salads are the perfect bring-to-work lunch, and this one packs on some serious flavor.

Farro, kale, green beans, tomatoes, and feta cheese keep it simple and tasty. Plus, the kale won’t wilt under the mustardy vinaigrette when you toss it in your bag.

View the recipe:  Farro, Green Bean, and Kale Salad

Rigatoni with Kale Pesto 

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Everyone needs a go-to pasta dish, and this healthier pesto is one to have on hand. The sauce becomes slightly nutty and cheesy while keeping you fuller from the hearty kale bits. Mix this up with whatever pasta you like, and enjoy warm or room temperature for a simple lunch.

View the recipe: Rigatoni with Kale Pesto

Moroccan Butternut Squash Stew

Photo: Jennifer Causey

This stew is a little more involved than some of the other lunches, but it’s definitely worth it—try making it the night before.

In 35-minutes you’ll have the ultimate squash feast, full of flavors like cumin, ginger, paprika, and cinnamon. Swap out the chicken stock with its veggie sibling to keep it vegetarian, and store the arugula and Greek yogurt separately until you’re ready to enjoy.

View the recipe: Moroccan Butternut Squash Stew