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Best Make-Ahead Work Lunches

Best Make-Ahead Work Lunches

Swap the overpriced, unsatisfying sandwich for one of these healthy, nutritious, homemade lunches

When you’re thinking about what to cook yourself for lunch at work next week, the criteria that you feel need to be met can become so overwhelming that it becomes all too easy to talk yourself out of cooking anything at all. You repeatedly claim that you’re too busy, you don’t know what you’ll want to eat the next day, you can’t think of anything that will last… Yet, inevitably, when Monday lunchtime arrives, you always regret not bringing in a wholesome, homemade meal, as you rush to the café across the road to buy another average, overpriced sandwich.

The recipes we’ve selected are a mix of hearty soups and stews to warm you up and satisfy you in the dark, depths of winter, and light, zingy salads for those warm summer days. None of these lunches are difficult to prepare, and most of them can be thrown together in under an hour. Whether you’re looking for something vegan, gluten-free, kid-friendly, or low-calorie, there is something for everyone in this collection of our 25 favorite make-ahead work lunches.

Best Make-Ahead Work Lunches

When you’re thinking about what to cook yourself for lunch at work next week, the criteria that you feel need to be met can become so overwhelming that it becomes all too easy to talk yourself out of cooking anything at all. Whether you’re looking for something vegan, gluten-free, kid-friendly, or low-calorie, there is something for everyone in this collection of our 25 favorite make-ahead work lunches.

Asian Noodle Salad Jar

Grab your mason jar, and fill it up with a spicy peanut dressing, soba noodles, and plenty of raw, crunchy vegetables. Keeping the dressing at the base of the jar, and the vegetables above the noodles, stops the salad from going soggy. Simply toss everything together when lunchtime rolls around for a fresh and healthy Asian meal.

For the Asian Noodle Salad Jar recipe, click here.

Baked Quinoa Falafel Pita

Making your own falafel is easier than it sounds. By baking, rather than deep-frying the falafel, adding quinoa to the falafel patties, and serving them in a whole-wheat pita, you’ll have successfully created a healthy take on your favorite vegetarian street food.

For the Baked Quinoa Falafel Pita recipe, click here.

Beet and Wheat Berry Salad

This is a beautiful, autumnal salad, which is really easy to pull together. Roast the vitamin-packed veggies, cook the nutty wheat berries, and combine everything in a sweet, mustard dressing. We would be happy to eat this one repeatedly throughout the year.

For the Beet and Wheat Berry Salad recipe, click here.

Black Bean, Avocado, Brown Rice, and Chicken Wrap

Black Bean Couscous Salad

Couscous has got to be the easiest grain to cook. All it needs is five minutes of soaking in boiled water, and it’s ready to go. Toss with black beans, red pepper, parsley, and a simple vinaigrette, and your lunch is ready. It will take you less time to put this salad together than it takes for you to go and buy that overpriced one from around the corner.

For the Black Bean Couscous Salad recipe, click here.

Butter Bean, Tuna, and Celery Salad

Californian Asian Pasta Salad

Caprese Pasta Salad

We know that pasta salads have a tendency to be lackluster, stodgy, and are often really disappointing. The secret to making this pasta salad much more desirable than others is the marinated roasted red peppers, garlic, and olive oil, which add powerful flavors to bring this lunch to life.

For the Caprese Pasta Salad recipe, click here.

Carrot and Ginger Soup With Coconut Milk

Detox Kale Salad

For those days when you need something really healthy, perhaps after a weekend of overindulging, this detox kale salad is here to save you. Packed full of all your favorite superfoods, and tossed together with shredded vegetables and a simple olive oil dressing, you’ll be feeling virtuous and energized after eating a bowlful of this salad for lunch.

For the Detox Kale Salad recipe, click here.

Greek-Style Orzo Salad

Grilled Eggplant and Quinoa Salad

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This vegan salad gets its amazing creamy, nutty flavor from a simple tahini dressing. You can swap the eggplant for any other grilled vegetables you have. This lunch is quick and easy to prepare, and we’re sure that it will become a work lunch recipe that you’ll fall back on time and time again.

For the Grilled Eggplant and Quinoa Salad recipe, click here.

Healthy Brisket and Barley Stew With Tomatillos

As soon as the days get colder and shorter, we start craving comforting stews. This Jewish- and Mexican-inspired brisket stew takes almost no effort on your part, and, after the slow-cooker has done its job, will be delicious reheated at lunch time. Leave everything bubbling away in your slow-cooker on Sunday afternoon and you’ll be dining on a hearty stew on Monday.

For the Healthy Brisket and Barley Stew With Tomatillos recipe, click here.

Healthy Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Wheat Berry Salad

Israeli Couscous Salad With Smoked Salmon and Creamy Pesto

Mediterranean Chicken Stew

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is a traditional Italian dish of pasta and beans. The pasta, beans, and greens are cooked in a tomato broth, with each ingredient being added at various stages so everything is cooked until just tender. This comforting soup will fill you up without overloading you with carby pasta.

For the Pasta e Fagioli recipe, click here.

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Shrimp Summer Rolls

Summer rolls and peanut sauce are a healthy lunch, which you can improvise with as much as you like. It may take you a few attempts to get the rolling technique perfect, but your lunch will be just as delicious, whether the rolls look like they came from your local Vietnamese restaurant or not.

For the Shrimp Summer Rolls recipe, click here.

Slow-Cooker Thai Beef Stew

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Summer Chickpea Salad With Honey Garlic Lime Vinaigrette

Vegan Tomato Soup

A creamy, comforting tomato soup, without any cream, this vegan soup is a perfect lunch all year round. It gets extra sweetness from roasting the tomatoes before adding them to the soup: This additional step may seem unnecessary, but we promise you it’s worth that little bit of extra effort.

For the Vegan Tomato Soup recipe, click here.

Vegan Yoga Bowl

Filled with vegetables, lentils, and spices, this is the ultimate nutritious, warming, vegan comfort food. You can make this all year round by simply substituting the vegetables for whatever is in season. It’s so easy to throw together, and will definitely satisfy that craving for a homemade, healthy lunch.

For the Vegan Yoga Bowl recipe, click here.

White Bean, Lemon, and Kale Soup

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Using ready-made stock and canned beans enables you to have this warming soup ready in just 40 minutes. This broth is so flavorful, and with the addition of mushrooms and kale, it is everything we want from a lovingly created lunch that will keep us going until dinner.

For the White Bean, Lemon, and Kale Soup recipe, click here.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.


10 Easy Make Ahead Cold Lunches That Aren’t Boring

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.