Packing lunch has its perks: It’s cheap, nutritious and rewarding to eat something homemade. But what do you do when there’s no microwave to reheat your hard work? Brown-bag one of these cold lunch ideas instead, of course. Here are 70 meals we love, from avocado chicken salad to Mediterranean couscous.

RELATED: 37 Office Lunch Ideas to Break Your Brown-Bag Rut

1. Aran Goyoaga’s Niçoise Salad

Pack everything in separate containers to keep it from turning to mush before lunchtime, then assemble it when you’re ready to eat. Easy, right?

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2. Salmon Noodle Bowls with Chili-Yuzu Relish and Pickled Radishes

This dish is just as delicious served cold as it is served warm (if not more). Even better, it’s customizable: Whatever veggies are in your fridge are fair game.

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3. Lemon-Roasted Potatoes, Chicken and Spinach with Tzatziki

It’s not just the adorable bento box that makes this lunch look irresistible. It’s the fact that everything tastes amazing straight from the refrigerator (and will keep for up to five days). Make a double batch for you and your kids.

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4. Pearl Couscous with Chickpeas, Eggplant and Peaches

If peaches aren’t in season, you can easily swap them for another fruit, and the whole thing can be made ahead. (Need more convincing?)

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5. Citrus, Shrimp and Quinoa Salad with Feta

A cold quinoa salad is right up our alley, but the mixed citrus and shrimp take it over the edge. (And FYI, it only takes 20 minutes to make.)

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6. Colorful Peanut Noodle Jar

On days when you’re sick of eating the same sad kale salad for lunch, look to this convenient and quick noodle mason jar salad for something exciting and new. (It’s also a cute and easy way to get your kids to eat some veggies, just saying.)

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7. Avocado Chicken Salad

Chicken salad recipes are a dime a dozen, but skip the outdated grapes, cranberries and nuts and add avocado to the cold lunch classic instead. It’s creamy with less mayo and packed with healthy fats—a win-win.

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8. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

Or, skip the mayo entirely and swap it with Greek yogurt. Bonus: These stuffed bell peppers are super easy on the eyes (and kid-friendly).

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9. Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

Cold soup for lunch? Yep, it’s a thing, and it’s delicious. Everyone at work will think you’re some kind of chef.

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10. Kamut and Sour Cherry Meze

Meze just means appetizer, but we’re packing this cold grain salad up and serving it for a filling, healthy lunch.

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11. Zoodles with Avocado and Mango Sauce

It’s creamy, a little bit spicy and requires zero cooking. What’s not to love? (Hint: nothing.)

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12. Avocado, Radish and Walnuts with Carrot-Miso Dressing

An avocado salad might not seem like much on paper, but it’s quickly becoming one of our go-tos. Good thing it takes just 20 minutes to whip up.

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13. Sumac and Fennel Fattoush

This is basically a salad made of pita chips, and we’re not complaining at all. The zingy honey-sumac vinaigrette pulls it all together beautifully.

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14. 15-Minute Gazpacho with Cucumber, Red Pepper and Basil

You had us at 15 minutes (and again at no-cook). Cold soup sounds like just the thing for your next alfresco dinner party.

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15. Meal-Prep Creamy Pasta Salad with Broccoli and Raisins

If you’re going to pack lunch, you’ve got to upgrade from PB&Js and carrot sticks. This budget- and kid-friendly pasta salad will do the trick. (It’s just $1.50 per serving!)

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16. The Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich

All those in favor of topping every sandwich possible with crispy frizzled onions say, "aye."

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17. Salami, Artichoke and Ricotta Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a cold lunch no-brainer, but this one feels extra-special, thanks to creamy ricotta and salami. Feel free to go the extra mile by using fresh artichokes instead of canned.

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RELATED: 13 Picnic-Perfect Pasta Salad Recipes

18. Green Bowl with Chicken, Citrus and Herbs

This nourishing bowl is a great way to use up lingering chicken and herb leftovers. We won’t tell if you use a store-bought dressing, either.

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19. Indian Salad Bowl with Crunchy Chickpeas

Fresh, vibrant and full of crunchy, spiced and roasted chickpeas? This will do quite nicely.

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20. BLT Pasta Salad

What’s more fun than both a sandwich and a salad? A pasta dish that combines both, is what. (The bacon doesn’t hurt, either.)

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21. Avocado and Black Bean Pasta Salad

It’s almost like pasta, avocado and our lunch were meant to be together. The beans will keep you full through the three-o'clock slump to boot.

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22. Shrimp Fajita Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing

Want to make it dairy-free? Use olive oil instead of yogurt. Craving a wrap? Toss it in a tortilla (or better yet, make lettuce wraps). You’re the artist and the lunch is your palette.

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23. Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Pasta Salad

Packing a lunch for kids? This broccoli-bacon combo will be an instant hit. (Extra breadcrumbs on top couldn't hurt, either.)

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24. Roasted Squash Salad with White Beans, Bread Crumbs and Preserved Lemon

This room-temperature salad hits all the right notes: briny from the lemon, crispy from the breadcrumbs and creamy from the squash and beans. Yum.

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25. Meal-Prep Creamy Kale Caesar Salad

Even self-professed kale haters will eat this salad up. That’s thanks to the creamy Caesar dressing, which takes less than 15 minutes to make.

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RELATED: I’m Totally Disorganized, but Here’s How I Meal Prep and Bring My Lunch Every Day

26. Roasted Delicata Squash Salad

We love delicata squash for its sweet nutty flavor and low-effort prep (you don’t even have to peel it), but you could use any winter squash here, or even sweet potatoes if that’s what suits you. Not into eating it cold? Pull it from the fridge 20 minutes before lunch to let it come to room temp.

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27. Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

With pine nuts, cinnamon and apple cider vinegar, this bowl has all the flavors of fall…but we’ll be making and eating it all year long, thank you very much.

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28. 15-Minute Mediterranean Couscous with Tuna and Pepperoncini

Tuna salad but make it fancy—except that this whole dish only takes a mere 15 minutes to put together.

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29. Buffalo Chicken Wraps with Blue Cheese and Celery

Served hot or cold, buffalo chicken is always a good idea. This version uses a rotisserie chicken and store-bought buffalo sauce for the easiest lunch ever. (Feeding kids? They’ll love it too: Just dial down the spice with a milder sauce, or even swap it for barbecue sauce.)

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30. Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches

Deli meat and squishy bread? Pass. These adorable pinwheel slices take almost no effort and are a step up from your usual cold-cut sammie.

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31. Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich

Forget the gloopy, overly mayo-ed egg salads you’re used to. This avocado version is creamy and tangy, but not over the top.

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32. Grilled Lemon-Herb Chicken and Avocado Salad

Oh hello, salad to end all others. We recommend grilled chicken slices for their appealing smokiness, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

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33. Salmon and Smashed Cucumber Grain Bowls

More satisfying than a bowl of leafy greens but not too heavy, this might be the grain bowl of our dreams. It also solves the whole reheating-fish-at-work conundrum: Just don’t.

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34. Slow-Cooker Meal-Prep Burrito Bowls

Toss everything in your slow cooker, then assemble your bowls and go. Psst: These low-carb beauties will keep for four days in the fridge and are even better served cold than warm.

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35. Salmon Bowl with Farro, Black Beans and Tahini Dressing

This salmon bowl is the tastiest way to get your omega-3s. We also love that eating it cold means no stinking up the microwave with fish…but that’s another story.

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36. Vegan Fiesta Taco Bowl

We never thought we could have a crush on a packed lunch, but here we are. (It might have something to do with the homemade vegan sour cream.)

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RELATED: 25 Clean-Eating Bowls to Make for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

37. Lemon-Tahini Salad with Lentils, Beets and Carrots

Want to make this meal even easier? Look for pre-cooked lentils and vacuum-packed beets at the grocery store. It can be our little secret.

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38. Make-Ahead Farro and Brussels Sprout Salad

Consider this the hip, cool cousin of the quinoa salad. The farro has a satisfying chew, and paired with Brussels sprouts, it feels special without being fussy—a guaranteed hit at work or home.

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39. Chicken Pesto Focaccia Sandwiches

Homemade pesto and crisp chicken make for an extraordinarily tasty cold sandwich. Use freshly baked bread if you can get your hands on it.

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40. Lunch Kebabs with Mortadella, Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sandwich, meet kebab. Choose your favorite fixings for a customized meal for you or your kid.

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41. Quick Guacamole Quinoa Salad

This is basically like eating guacamole for lunch. Hellooooo, healthy fats.

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42. Rainbow Collard Wraps with Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce

Lettuce wraps are great, but they can get wilty. Hearty collard greens will pack well and hold until lunchtime rolls around, and they taste great cold.

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43. Veggie Niçoise Salad with Red Curry Green Beans

Not a tuna person? No problem. This Niçoise salad has plenty going on, so no one will miss the fish.

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44. Cold Sesame Cucumber Noodles

Zoodles on their own aren’t a complete meal, so we added marinated tofu for extra protein in this ten-minute dish.

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45. Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce

They’re just like your favorite takeout noodles and come together in three easy steps. And FYI, the peanut sauce is kid-friendly to boot.

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46. The Ultimate Quinoa-Avocado Bowl

Introducing the homemade version of that $16 bowl you bought at work last week. It’s cheaper and tastier, in our opinion.

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47. Grilled Peach, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Sandwich

We bet they don’t serve this lunch in the cafeteria. Grill the peaches in advance for some smoky nuance or skip the grilling entirely.

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48. Shredded Thai Salad with Avocado

Have we mentioned we really like avocado? Because we’ll put it on almost anything.

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49. Kelp and Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai

Kelp noodles, common in Korean cuisine, are soaked instead of boiled, which means they’re great for a cold lunch. Plus, they’re gluten-free, Paleo and packed with nutrients like iron, vitamin K, calcium and fiber.

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50. Meal-Prep Mayo-Less Potato Salad

The classic cold salad got a makeover: With a little bit of sour cream and red wine vinegar, you get a creamy dressing without all the calories. Sorry, mayonnaise.

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RELATED: 50 Easy Lunch Ideas for Stressed-Out People

51. Radicchio, Lentil and Apple Salad with Vegan Cashew Dressing

Even non-vegans will swoon over this creamy cashew dressing. (We double-checked: There’s not a drop of dairy in there.) Pack it for work and you’re guaranteed to inspire some lunch envy.

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52. Delicata Buckwheat Bowls

This make-ahead beauty is delicious warm, but we love it just as much eaten cold, straight from the fridge.

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53. Roasted Beet and Citrus Salad

When you’re tired of kale but still want something light, this bright, sweet, nutritious and meal-prep-friendly salad will hit the spot.

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54. Keto Instant Pot Greek Cauliflower Rice

We can’t decide what we’re most excited about: that this lunch takes 10 minutes from start to finish, or that it’s diet-friendly and delicious. (It serves eight as a side, but makes a heartier main for four.)

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55. 20-Minute Shrimp Scampi Zoodles

Whip this up on a Sunday night and you’ll have four days’ worth of gourmet lunch ready for work. (It’s good warm or cold.)

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56. Apple, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad

Who knew pasta and fruit made such a delightful combination? We can’t get over the balance of textures. (And your kids are going to love this one.)

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57. Keto Steak and Blue Cheese Salad for One

You’ve already got cold leftover steak in the fridge. Why not put it to good use and make a fancy little lunch? It takes five minutes, promise.

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58. Cauliflower, Pomegranate and Apple Salad

The cauliflower won’t be quite as crispy the next day, but with that tahini-honey dressing, we don’t mind one bit.

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59. Vegan Avocado Caesar Salad

At work, you’d normally grab a $15 Caesar salad from the chain place down the street. We implore you to try this homemade version instead. You’re worth it.

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60. Vegetarian Sushi Cups

They’re almost too cute to eat, but we have a feeling you (and your kids) will find it easy to overlook that fact—this fish-free take on sushi is just too darn tasty. Don’t forget to pack some chopsticks.

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RELATED: Sushi for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know Before Ordering

61. Summer Rolls

Crisp veggies. Chewy rice noodles. Juicy shrimp. All the fresh herbs. Yup, these Vietnamese-inspired handhelds are sure to satisfy (and make your coworkers jealous). Pass the sweet chile sauce.

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62. Ritz Crackers with Whipped Honey Ricotta and Bacon

Cheese and crackers is hands-down our favorite in-a-pinch meal. This take only requires 15 minutes of your time—even less if you make the bacon ahead.

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63. Mini Chicken Shawarma

Hear us out: These tiny sammies are even more delicious the second time around, and so don't need to be served warm. Just pack the leftover ingredients separately, so you can assemble it the morning you pack your lunch or at your desk. That way, nothing gets soggy.

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64. Orecchiette with Spring Greens

This 15-minute gem tastes just as good cold as it does hot, promise. It's also loaded with nutritious spinach and peas, plus a handful of protein-rich almonds.

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65. 15-Minute Mezze Plate with Toasted Za’atar Pita Bread

It may look like a plate of snacks (OK, it is a plate of snacks), but that doesn't mean it won't fill you up. Between the hummus, salami, Greek yogurt and whole-wheat pita, we have a feeling you'll stay satisfied until dinnertime.

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66. Crispy Quinoa Cashew Granola

Having a batch of homemade granola on hand is always a good idea. Nosh on it with yogurt, top it off with milk, sprinkle it over a smoothie bowl—the possibilities are endless.

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67. Heirloom Pan con Tomate

Take a lil' siesta in the middle of the day, then kick back with the Spanish equivalent to Italian bruschetta. The tomato mixture is as simple as grating the tomatoes, chopping their skins, seasoning them and spreading it on sliced ciabatta.

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68. Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Chicken salad may have a blah reputation, but this iteration is far from boring. Think tarragon Dijonnaise, quick-pickled onions and peppery arugula.

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69. Cold Lemon Zoodles

Buy pre-spiralized zucchini noodles and most of the work is already done. Take it from us: Once you taste it, you'll want to make this refreshing dish for every picnic or barbecue you ever host.

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70. Fruicuterie Board

When in doubt, you truly can't go wrong with an assortment of your favorite cheese and produce. Spruce it up with cured meats if you must.

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RELATED: 21 Non-Boring Work Lunches You Can Make in 15 Minutes or Less

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