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Healthy Packed Lunch Ideas: A Field Guide

Healthy Packed Lunch Ideas: A Field Guide
Of all the questions we get on PlateJoy, one of the most common is, “Can someone PLEASE help me get over my lunch rut?” Healthy lunch ideas can be a challenge because they have to satisfy the basics:
  • No on-site cooking needed (or maybe a microwave if your office has one)
  • Can be easily packaged and transported
  • No or minimal advance prep (because no one wants to sacrifice sleep to make lunch)

Classic sandwiches make great healthy lunchesSo here’s a field guide to my favorite healthy packed lunch ideas, in three yummy (and easy) categories.

Want more healthy lunch ideas? Get custom meal plans and handy shopping lists on PlateJoy and make healthy eating simple. 

Sandwiches and wraps

Sure, it’s a classic, but it’s classic for a reason. Sandwiches are a great vehicle for getting a bunch of nutrients and flavors in one convenient package, and they often don’t require any cooking. You can also place the greens between the bread and the filling so the bread doesn’t get soggy.

Some favorites:

  • Chicken, pesto, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic drizzle
  • Pear slices, goat cheese, chopped walnuts, sprouts
  • Smoked salmon, cucumber, avocado, romaine
  • Turkey, apple, fresh mozzarella, spinach

Mason jar salads

The biggest problem with salads is that the dressing needs to be packaged separately or you get a soggy mess by lunchtime, and ain’t nobody got time to package dressing separately. That’s why I love putting salads in a big jar (it doesn’t need to be a mason jar – a re-used normal jar is fine, as long as it has a wide mouth). You can put the dressing ingredients in the bottom, then layer the salad ingredients on top. When it’s time for lunch, just shake it so the dressing emulsifies and the salad gets coated.

Some ideas:

  • Quinoa, black beans, cucumber and bell pepper with a cumin-oil-apple cider vinegar dressing
  • Chicken, romaine, cherry tomatoes, avocado with a honey-dijon-oil dressing
  • Pear, prosciutto, pecans, arugula with a maple-oil-white wine vinegar dressing
  • Spinach, oregano, olives, feta, edamame, red onion with olive-red wine vinegar dressing

Bento boxes

One of the simplest options is to put a bunch of different healthy ingredients in a box and just enjoy them together at lunch. This also gives you a lot of variety, and you can enjoy them throughout the day if you’d rather have several little meals instead of one big one.

  • Chicken strips, jicama, guacamole, baby carrots
  • Salami, cherry tomatoes, whole grain crackers, provolone
  • Apple, hard-boiled egg, nut butter, yogurt
  • Hummus, cucumber, pita chips, pistachios

Want more healthy lunch ideas? Get custom meal plans and handy shopping lists on PlateJoy and make healthy eating simple.