Early September has a back-to-school feel to it, even for those of us who have long since graduated. Whether you’re a parent prepping a meal for the kids or a worker on a budget, making and packing lunch every day can quickly get boring. A person (child or grown-up!) can only eat so many PB&J sandwiches, turkey wraps, or spinach salads before they all start to taste snooze-worthy. In honor of the first day of school, here are some fresh and easy recipes that are ideal for brown bagging.
Baby Peas and Cheese Frittata via Family Fresh Cooking
This easy frittata (fun fact: a frittata is the same thing as a quiche, minus the crust) features peas, garlic, and leeks. Plus, it’s packed with protein in the form of skim milk, egg whites, and cheese. Add seasonal veggies to put your own spin on it.
Photo: Marla Meridith / Family Fresh Cooking
BLT Spring Roll via White on Rice Couple
This lunchtime entree is basically a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich…minus the sandwich. Instead of stacking ingredients on toast, roll ’em up in rice paper. This healthy recipe gets flavor from fresh herbs like basil and mint, not mayo.
Photo: Todd and Diane / White on Rice Couple
Vegetable Pizza Roll-Ups via Petit Foodie
These rolls may look like cinnamon buns (drool), but they’re loaded with veggies and protein-rich cheese to keep you fueled up all afternoon long. Make these bad boys even healthier by including some nutrient-dense spinach, subbing in whole-wheat pizza dough, and using low-fat cream cheese.
Photo: Jenna / Petit Foodie
Southwest Salad with Spicy Cilantro Dressing via Eatin’ On The Cheap
Pro tip: grill an extra chicken breast or two for dinner, and then chop them up to make this salad for lunch the next day. The creamy, spicy dressing is made with guilt-free Greek yogurt, so don’t be afraid to drizzle it on.
Photo: Jodie Mo / Eatin’ On The Cheap
Strawberry Quesadillas via La Fuji Mama
Sweet and savory flavors combine in this super-healthy, fresh tasting quesadilla. Fill a tortilla (go whole-wheat for extra fiber) with smashed avocado, sliced strawberries, black beans, a sprinkle of cheese, and cook until golden brown. Serve it with fresh tomato salsa or low-fat sour cream.
Photo: Rachael / La Fuji Mama
Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad via Plum Pie
This tasty sandwich is chock full of protein and healthy fats to keep your engine going until dinnertime. The chicken salad uses just a touch of mayo (most of the creaminess comes from Greek yogurt) and boasts plenty of flavor due to chopped apples, cranberries, pecans, and rosemary.
Photo: Brooke / Plum Pie
Grilled Eggplant and Roasted Pepper Sandwich with Halloumi via Closet Cooking
This monster of a sandwich will convert even the staunchest veggie-naysayer. With hearty eggplant, flavorful red peppers, juicy tomatoes, smoky cheese, and a bright smear of pesto, there’s no need for meat.
Photo: Kevin / Closet Cooking
Greek Salad Sandwich via Food and Other Stuff
Finally, a portable, easy way to pack and eat Greek salad for lunch. A creamy spread made from chickpeas, parsley, lemon juice, and feta cheese lends this recipe plenty of substance, while red onions, cukes, and tomatoes give it tons of fresh flavor.
Photo: Mirabella / Food and Other Stuff
Make an extra-large batch of these Asian-themed noodles and divvy the leftovers up for lunch throughout the week. Luckily, cold sesame noodles taste even better after a day or two in the fridge. Photo: Katie Morris / Katie at the Kitchen Door
Turkey, Hummus, and Veggie Wrap via Jo Cooks
This classic roll-up is perfect for picky eaters, or even grown-ups looking for a simple, straightforward midday meal. Spread a whole-wheat tortilla with hummus (plain or flavored, your call), sliced turkey, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell pepper. Season it with lime juice and salt and pepper and then roll the whole thing up.
Photo: Jo / Jo Cooks
What are your favorite lunch recipes? Share them in the comments below or get in touch with the author on Twitter at @SophBreene.