When you've got to get out the door and fast, packing your lunch box might feel like an extra chore. But buying lunch every day can really take a toll—on your wallet and your nutrition—and that goes for both kids and adults.
Let's make it easier for you. We've gathered these fast and easy lunch ideas you can pack in portable containers in minutes, no cooking required. With whole grains, protein, fruits and vegetables, and short ingredient lists, these lunches will power you and your family through the afternoon.
Most of these are simple enough, you can have your kids make their own lunches the night before so they can grab their bags and go in the morning. Lunch-packing is one of the great training grounds for teaching kids how to cook. Here is to their future independence! Don't forget to add a piece of fruit to your lunch box for extra nutrients and a little sweetness.
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Not all canned soups are created equal. Some of our favorite canned soups make an effort to add ample vegetables. Look for low-sodium, single-serve, ready-to-eat options with pull-open tops. And startups like Good Stock Soups will ship frozen, single-serve soups right to your door on a subscription basis.
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Chicken Provencal Wrap with Spinach and Goat Cheese
It looks pretty, and it's pretty simple to make. Start with rotisserie chicken and prepared pesto to make building this chicken provencal wrap a two-minute task. Add jarred peppadews or roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and baby spinach on a whole wheat wrap.
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Egg and Dill Tuna Salad Sandwich
Boil some eggs to add to this tuna salad over the weekend. If you keep canned tuna on hand and hard-boiled eggs in the fridge, it only takes a second to whip up this simple sandwich filling. Fresh dill and dill relish give it more character. Pro tip: line your bread with lettuce leaves to keep the salad from making your sandwich go soggy.
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Chicken Salad Sandwich
Use canned, leftover, or shredded rotisserie chicken for this sandwich filling that definitely beats cold cuts. Chopped hard-boiled egg, celery, dill pickle relish, and red or white onion gives it both texture and flavor. This is another salad you can make on the weekend (maybe double the recipe!) and then the whole family can use during the week. Try stuffing into a pita, wrapping in a tortilla, or on white or whole-grain bread.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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Hummus Avocado Wrap
For a super-fast and filling lunch wrap, nestle hummus, avocado, bean sprouts, and cucumber in the wrap of your choice. Swap out the fillings to suit your tastes, or try a flavored hummus for a fun twist. We recommend skipping the tomatoes, which can make a wrap go watery (especially if they're super juicy).
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Peanut Butter Banana Roll-Ups
For a speedy and nutritious meat-free sandwich that tastes extra special but takes just minutes to prepare, roll up a banana and nut butter in a whole wheat wrap. A lot of school lunchrooms are peanut-free these days, so swap out the peanut butter with almond butter instead (if that's allowed), or a seed butter like sesame or pumpkin.
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Classic Turkey Club
A diner-style club sandwich has become a classic for a reason. Grab leftover roasted turkey or chicken, some fresh sliced tomatoes, crisp lettuce, bacon, and mayonnaise and slap it on some white bread for a simple and satisfying sandwich.
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If you (or your kids) get sick of the standard sandwich, disassemble it into a British-style ploughman's lunch. Just pack some sliced hard cheese, crusty bread, some olives and pickles, a hard-boiled egg or two, and whatever fresh veggies sound good at the time.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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Caprese Sandwich or Salad
For a meat-free Italian classic that makes the most of late-summer vegetables, go for a caprese salad sandwich. Slice up fresh mozzarella, a fresh tomato, and grab some fresh basil from the garden then lay it all on an Italian roll. Swap out the bread for lettuce or spring mix for a grain-free option.
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Tzatziki and Dippers
Pack a little pot of creamy, garlicky, lemony tzatziki dip with pre-cut fresh vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, bell peppers, baby carrots, and celery as well as pita points for a simple lunch that kids and grown-ups will love. Tzatziki is easy to make, but you can also find single-serving cups at the grocery store, sometimes stocked right next to pre-cut veggies.
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Cucumber Cream Cheese Sandwiches
Kids will get a kick out of having their own tea party for one with cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches. Just lay some sliced cuke, cream cheese, and some fresh herbs if you have them on white bread with the crusts cut off. Try flavored cream cheese for a different take. And yeah, we know some of your kids will want those cukes peeled and seeded and won't want any herbs at all. To each his or her own!
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Roasted Rainbow Veggie Bowl
Roasted vegetables over quinoa or brown rice make a quick and hearty lunch you can just pop in the office microwave. At the beginning of the week, roast up some vegetables like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or other favorites, make some whole grains, and then just toss together a portion before work in the morning.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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Avocado Egg Salad
Adding avocado to classic egg salad gives it extra nutrition and a pretty green color. Whip it up before work or school or the night before to grab and go. Spread it on crackers, stuff into a croissant or pita, or slather between two slices of bread for an easy lunch.
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Pack Up Those Leftovers
Turn last night's leftovers into today's lunch by packing them up in containers to go. If you don't like eating the same thing twice, try turning them into a sandwich instead. Think sliced meatloaf on bread, leftover ham with swiss cheese, roast turkey or rotisserie chicken, or even macaroni and cheese as a filling.