65 Easy Lunch Ideas for Stressed-Out People
Let’s face it, we’re all busy. We barely have time to get everything done in the day, let alone meal prep healthy lunches for the week. But you know what we also don’t have the time (or budget) for? Trekking outside for a $12 lunch salad that’s not even that good. Luckily, there's a solution: Presenting 65 easy lunch ideas that require basically zero effort to whip up (and still taste delicious). With everything from chicken salad stuffed peppers to radish barbecue bowls with honey-mustard dressing, this handy list of recipes should keep you going for months to come. Finally, a brown bag lunch that you can get excited about. Bon appétit.
1. Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich
It’s as easy as slicing a tomato. If you have 25 minutes, you can make four days’ worth of lunches.
2. Linguine with Bacon, Peaches and Gorgonzola
This dish takes just 30 minutes from start to finish. We give you permission to eat it cold—itt tastes just as good (if not better) that way.
3. Zoodles with Avocado and Mango Sauce
You had us at 15-minute lunch, and again at no oven required. Double the recipe to make enough for the entire week.
4. Buffalo Chicken Wraps with Blue Cheese and Celery
Rotisserie chicken, we salute you. (How else could we have a mouthwatering lunch ready to go in 20 minutes?)
5. Tomato Salad with Grilled Halloumi and Herbs
It’s impossible to beat a ten-minute salad. And this one has halloumi cheese, so it’s even better.
6. Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches
The sandwich equivalent of icebox cookies. And by that we mean easy, delicious and impossible to eat just one.
8. Sheet Pan Indian-Spiced Chicken
It sounds time-consuming, but we promise it’s a breeze. There's only ten minutes of prep; just chop everything up and toss it on a tray.
9. Make-Ahead Aloo Gobi
Tender and flavorful, this pretty lunch keeps in the fridge for up to four days. (It’s also vegetarian and ready in 30 minutes, but we didn’t want to brag too much.)
10. BLT Pasta Salad
Bowties beat sad, wilted salads any day of the week. Would you believe us if we told you it only takes 40 minutes to make a whopping eight servings?
11. Meal-Prep Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles
Ready in half an hour is just the beginning. These meatballs are tender, rich and juicy, plus they’re baked instead of fried for easy cleanup.
12. Make-Ahead Farro and Brussels Sprout Salad
Psst: This is the easiest way to prepare Brussels sprouts. All you have to do is trim, separate and toss them with the farro before serving.
13. Lunch Kebabs with Mortadella, Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Aside from being a delicious lunch for you or your kids, they’re so darn fun to eat. Customize to your heart’s content.
14. Slow-Cooker Meal-Prep Burrito Bowls
The answer to your lunchtime prayers? Spicy, nourishing burrito bowls portioned out for the entire week.
15. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers
Bye, lunch rut. We’ll see you never, thanks to these adorable pepper boats of healthy chicken salad.
16. Rainbow Collard Wraps with Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce
They take 30 minutes to make, won’t get soggy and will last up to two days in advance in the fridge. Plus, there’s peanut sauce. Need we say more?
17. Meal-Prep Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccolini
Kick that sad salad to the curb and replace it with this satisfying meal. The sides are swappable, but the sticky-sweet glaze is mandatory.
18. Mini Chicken Shawarma
You can’t go wrong with these two-bite pockets. Thanks to a quick marinade, they’re as flavorful as if you spent all day in the kitchen (but are actually very simple to make).
19. Quick Guacamole Quinoa Salad
It’s basically a giant bowl of guac masquerading as a salad, and we’re not complaining at all. In fact, that’s the definition of our dream lunch.
20. Firecracker Chicken with Rice
Low-maintenance is the name of the game. Make this spicy-sweet number the night before (it takes just 35 minutes) and reap the rewards when your stomach growls at lunchtime the next day.
21. 20-Minute Burrata Salad with Stone Fruit and Asparagus
Tip: Don’t skimp on the good stuff. And by good stuff, we mean all that creamy burrata.
22. Bruschetta Chicken
One-pan lunches are the way to go. This one tastes super decadent, but it’s surprisingly healthy and low-carb.
23. Keto Sheet-Pan Chicken and Rainbow Veggies
Dishes, what dishes? We’re only making sheet-pan lunches from now on.
24. 20-Minute Paleo Egg Roll Bowls
We’re ditching the greasy egg roll wrappers because everyone knows it’s what’s inside that counts.
25. Easy Stir-Fried Rice Cakes with XO Sauce
These chewy, sticky rice cakes are about to win the lunch game. Grab the flavor-packed XO sauce from your local Asian market.
26. 15-Minute Mediterranean Couscous with Tuna and Pepperoncini
What looks fancy but takes virtually no effort? This guy. What can we say, we’re suckers for a can of tuna.
27. Radish Barbecue Bowls with Tangy Honey-Mustard Dressing
This is our new favorite way to eat veggies, hands down. It must have something to do with those briny, charred radishes.
29. 15-Minute Mezze Plate with Toasted Za’atar Pita Bread
Finger food is the best food. The second best? It’s a tie between charcuterie, olives, toasted pita and yogurt sauce.
30. Shredded Thai Salad with Avocado
The prettiest salad you’ll ever make. Just look at all those colors!
31. The Ultimate Quinoa-Avocado Bowl
The beauty of shrimp? It’s done in five minutes and goes with just about everything—a lunchtime blessing.
32. Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry
We might even venture to say it tastes better as leftovers. (It microwaves great, BTW.)
33. 15-Minute Cheater’s Pad Thai
It’s way faster than ordering takeout. You can even swap the ground pork for turkey or chicken, if you’re so inclined.
34. Rotisserie Chicken Ramen
Doctor up a box of noodles with store-bought (or homemade!) broth, aromatics and our old standby, rotisserie chicken.
35. Cauliflower Rice Bowl with Curried Lentils, Carrots and Yogurt
Who says eating healthy has to be boring? This fresh legume-veggie-yogurt combo will fill you up without weighing you down.
36. 15-Minute Lemony Broccolini Pasta
Nothing against jarred marinara sauce, but we need a break. And good news, you can totally swap the pine nuts for almonds in a pinch.
37. Sheet-Pan Lemon Butter Veggies and Sausage
Two things we love: hands-off meals and zero dishes. This easy lunch happens to offer both and then some.
38. Kung Pao Chicken
Juicy, sweet and totally irresistible. And we should mention it comes together in a single skillet, so cleanup is easy-peasy.
39. Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Chèvre Ranch
This is a brand new way to use goat cheese and it’s the opposite of that ’90s salad with dried cranberries you used to know and love.
41. White Turkey Chili with Avocado
Light enough to eat all year long. Even better, it freezes like a dream, so you can stash some away for busy days.
42. Buddha Bowl with Kale, Avocado, Orange and Wild Rice
Mixing and matching is the name of the game. With all these fresh, filling ingredients, you’ll avoid the afternoon slump like nobody’s business.
43. Avocado and Black Bean Pasta Salad
So much more fun than avocado toast, but just as easy to make. File this one under “genius.”
44. Green Goddess Wraps
Real talk: This recipe’s got us excited about greens. And about that homemade green-goddess dressing: It comes together with just a few spins of your blender.
45. Caprese Salad
Grilled zucchini is a major upgrade to everyone’s favorite seasonal salad. Drizzle on some extra balsamic for us, would you?
46. Spring Roll Bowls
The healthiest way to get your takeout fix is to ditch the carb-heavy wrappers for chewy rice noodles. Swoon.
47. Zoodles with Summer Vegetables
Presenting the best way to use up a boatload of produce. Feel free to swap these veggies for whatever looks good (or is available in your fridge).
48. Grilled Watermelon-Feta Skewers
Light, tangy and irresistible. Let’s eat every meal on a stick from now on.
49. Avocado Chicken Salad Recipe
No grapes or walnuts in sight, just how we like it. The addition of avocado, on the other hand, is *chef’s kiss*.
50. 15-Minute Cucumber-Avocado Blender Soup
We like the sound of zero prep even more than we like that cheesy toasted baguette.
51. Blackberry-Peach Grilled Cheese
This 10-minute beauty is bursting with fresh fruit and three different cheeses.
52. Cauliflower Fried Rice
Sure, you can pass on the carbs. But whatever you do, don't skip the runny egg.
53. Meal-Prep Creamy Kale Caesar Salad
Homemade dressing and toasted walnuts are a quick way to spruce up a classic.
54. Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Yup, we'll *definitely* be warming up with this hug in a bowl all winter long.
55. Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
When all else fails, you can't go wrong with this childhood favorite. (Especially when it's grilled in butter.)
56. 15-Minute Skillet Pepper Steak
No special ingredients required. Did we mention it's only 230 calories a serving?
57. Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa
In a perfect world, we'd be at the beach noshing on fresh seafood 24/7. Until then, these 20-minute beauties will have to do. (Pro tip: Pack the tortillas separately, so they don't get soggy.)
59. Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Pasta Salad
Why should summer have dibs on pasta salad? We love this hearty, savory take that's great for warming up with when the weather's cold.
60. 15-Minute Gazpacho with Cucumber, Red Pepper and Basil
Come June, the last thing we want to do is stand over a hot stove. Luckily, there's this cold soup alternative that comes together in the blender.
61. Thai Lettuce Wraps
The star here are the quick-pickled cucumbers and scallions, which are spiked with fresh herbs.
62. One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone
Psst: You only need eight ingredients (and that's including salt and pepper).
63. 10-Minute Pad See Ew
Nothing puts the 3-o'clock slump in its place like oodles of noodles doused in garlicky stir-fry sauce.
64. Keto Steak and Blue Cheese Salad for One
Color your coworkers jealous.
65. Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (Shrimp in Garlic Sauce)
Warm up some white rice and bust out the dinner rolls—you won't want to waste one drop of the citrus-garlic sauce.