Brown Bag Lunch Ideas and Recipes

Ditch the boring lunch for ingredient-packed salads, fresh pastas and healthy sandwiches that won't get soggy.

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Caprese Di Farro

Combine nutty, earthy farro with Kalamata olives and the classic Italian combo of tomato, basil and mozzarella. Cook the farro al dente so it doesn't become mushy and it will keep nicely for the next day's lunch.

Get the Recipe: Caprese Di Farro

Mini Italian Club Sandwiches

Pack brunch for lunch with egg, turkey, provolone cheese and pesto sandwiches. Giada uses hearty foccacia bread, which is delicious and will stand up to a few hours in the fridge.

Get the Recipe: Mini Italian Club Sandwiches

Roasted Beet Salad

Roasted beets are the "meat" of this meal, and they're complemented perfectly by goat cheese and pears. Think of this as the opposite of a sad desk salad.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Beet Salad

North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich

After you make this slow-roasted, Carolina-style pulled pork for dinner, bring leftovers for lunch with your bun stowed separately so it doesn't get soggy while traveling.

Get the Recipe: North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich

Artichoke Pasta Salad

Don't think of pasta salad as just a side dish. Alton's version includes roasted chicken, tomatoes and artichokes to make a meal of it, and it's all flavored with a homemade, slightly spicy herb oil.

Get the Recipe: Artichoke Pasta Salad

Fried Chicken

Cold fried chicken is a picnic staple, so why not bring it for lunch? If you have a toaster oven at work you can heat it up, but it's just as delicious — or arguably more so — after an overnight chill in the fridge.

Get the Recipe: Fried Chicken

Pasta Primavera

In less time than it takes to boil water, you can make a fresh tomato sauce that will last for lunches all week. With pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, it tastes almost like a tomato pesto.

Get the Recipe: Pasta Primavera

Chicken Masala

The next time you reach for a delivery menu, stop yourself and make this easy homemade Chicken Masala instead. 

Get the Recipe: Chicken Masala

Egg White, Caramelized Onion and Fig Jam Sandwich

Breakfast meets lunch in this sweet and savory stack of egg whites and caramelized onions between two slices of whole-grain bread. Pack your homemade fig jam separately and spread just before eating.

Get the Recipe: Egg White with Caramelized Onions and Homemade Fig Jam Sandwich with Salad and Maple Balsamic Dressing

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and White Beans

Use whole-wheat penne in this light and simple pasta. The juices from the roasted tomatoes, fragrant garlic and sprinkling of Parmesan cheese add so much flavor that you don't even need sauce.

Get the Recipe: Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and White Beans

Broiled Salmon with Herb Mustard Glaze

Salmon is a versatile fish that tastes just as delicious cold as it does hot. Make this glazed salmon for dinner and then take a piece for lunch to eat whole or chopped up in a salad.

Get the Recipe: Broiled Salmon with Herb Mustard Glaze

Red Pepper Soup with Toasted Cumin Seeds

Bal's red pepper soup is no mild concoction with even-more-flavorful toasted cumin seeds and a bevy of Eastern spices, like garam masala, mustard seeds and paprika.

Get the Recipe: Red Pepper Soup with Toasted Cumin Seeds

Tri-Colore Orzo

Giada's orzo and pine nut salad gets its three colors from ricotta cheese, dried cherries, and fresh arugula and basil leaves. Add in extra arugula to give this lunch a lighter spin.

Get the Recipe: Tri-Colore Orzo

Waldorf Salad

This classic salad is the perfect way to use up leftover chicken. Serve over a bed of greens for a pretty presentation, or lose the lettuce and pack it in a container as is.

Get the Recipe: Waldorf Salad

Low-Fat Creamy Mushroom Cavatappi

Have your low-fat lunch and eat mushroom cavatappi too! This lightened-up take on the classic creamy pasta dish is a great all-in-one meal.

Get the Recipe: Low-Fat Creamy Mushroom Cavatappi

Caribbean Wrap

Spicy and sweet, this tropical wrap is packed with lean, tasty and nutritious fillings like black beans, chicken breast, mango and macadamia nuts. Pack the wraps and salsa separately, and roll them up when you're ready to eat so they don't get soggy.

Get the Recipe: Caribbean Wrap

Tuna and Bean Salad

This protein-packed tuna salad is quick and easy to make in the morning and pack for lunch along with some crackers or in a sandwich.

Get the Recipe: Insalata di Fagioli e Tonno: Tuna and Bean Salad

Zucchine Trifolati

Enhance your zucchini's flavor in the most simple way: with some olive oil, salt and pepper. This green squash dish is delicious on its own, or can be served with pasta, grains or a toasted baguette.

Get the Recipe: Zucchine Trifolati

Coconut Bean Salad

Go on a culinary vacation at lunchtime with this meaty bean salad infused with the Indian flavors of fennel, cumin, cardamom and fenugreek.

Get the Recipe: Coconut Bean Salad

Sausage and Radicchio Orecchiette

Debi and Gabriele's meaty pasta dish is perfect for a hearty dinner that doubles as next-day lunch. Set aside some pasta before you grate the Parmesan to pack your brown bag; sprinkle some cheese at lunchtime to give it that fresh taste.

Get the Recipe: Sausage and Radicchio Orecchiette

Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Spinach and Walnuts

This sweet and nutty dish is a nutritional powerhouse, thanks to protein-rich quinoa and vitamin A-packed butternut squash. A measured amount of raisins and walnuts adds flavor and texture, while garlic and leeks round out all the sweetness.

Get the Recipe: Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Spinach and Walnuts

White Beans and Rosemary Crostini

Prepare this herby white bean mixture at home and pack it to go along with a few slices of toasted baguette for lunchtime preparation.

Get the Recipe: White Beans and Rosemary Crostini

Autumn Rice Salad with Dried Fruit and Nuts

This rice salad has tons of texture and flavor thanks to dried fruits and nuts, and makes a perfect autumn side salad or an easy, filling lunch.

Get the Recipe: Autumn Rice Salad with Dried Fruit and Nuts

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Ellie lightens up — and simplifies — this traditional Southern staple by using lean prepared rotisserie chicken meat, low-sodium tomato sauce and whole wheat hamburger rolls. Tote the chicken and buns separately and assemble at lunchtime.

Get the Recipe: Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Vegetable Chow Mein

This homemade chow mein is super filling thanks to loads of fiber-rich veggies. We recommend making a batch for dinner and then taking the leftovers for the next day's lunch.

Get the Recipe: Vegetable Chow Mein

Pasta Salad With Tuna

David Rocco’s mayo-free twist on tuna salad layers seared sushi-grade tuna, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes atop pasta.

Get the Recipe: Insalata di Pasta con Tonno: Pasta Salad with Tuna

Lemon Basil Orzotto

With orzo instead of rice, this risotto-like dish gets a burst of green color and flavor from fresh basil and blanched peas. Lemon zest adds the perfect bright, tangy finish.

Get the Recipe: Lemon-Basil Orzotto

Vietnamese Shrimp and Glass Noodle Salad

Make the dressing for this Vietnamese dish in advance and you can store it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Pour it over this shrimp and glass noodles salad as well as other dishes.

Get the Recipe: Vietnamese Shrimp and Glass Noodle Salad

Too-EZ Mac 'n Cheese

Make this three-ingredient mac 'n cheese in a jiffy and enjoy the lighter take on a classic comfort food.

Get the Recipe: Too-EZ Mac 'n Cheese

Spiced Okra

Spice up lunch with an Indian okra dish flavored with coriander and turmeric and topped with soft paneer cheese.

Get the Recipe: Spiced Okra

Cod Salad

Make this one-pot cod salad dish for a week's worth of light and healthy lunches.

Get the Recipe: Insalata di Baccala: Cod Salad

Hot and Sour Fresh Noodles with Zucchini

This Asian pasta dish is packed with spicy flavor, and because it's stir-fried, the longer the cooked veggies and noodles marinate in the sauces, the tastier it gets. Perfect for night-before lunch prep.

Get the Recipe: Hot and Sour Fresh Noodles with Zucchini

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