25 Bowl Lunches You Can Make Ahead and Enjoy All Week

updated Jul 5, 2023
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Credit: Lauren Volo

What is it about lunches that make them such a challenge? Whether you are packing a lunch just for you, or trying to fill the lunch boxes of your whole family, it can be easy to get into a rut and pack the same thing every day.

Take this as your wake-up call to serve up something new for lunch. The best part about these lunch bowls — grain salads and more — is that they can all be made ahead, and require minimal day-of assembly. A lunch that’s easy and delicious? Sign us up!

Lunch Bowl Recipes

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Feta & Eggplant Pasta Salad

Like all pasta salads, this one gets better overnight after a rest in the fridge. That gives time for the tangy red wine vinaigrette to soak into the roasted eggplant and al dente pasta.

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Tomato and Feta White Bean Salad
A light and easy recipe for a no-cook tomato and white bean salad. Make it now before the season's tomatoes disappear!
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Chopped Kale, Farro & Chickpea Salad

Since kale is such a hearty green, it won’t wilt as this salad sits overnight. Don’t be afraid that this salad won’t be filling — the chickpeas add enough protein to keep you satisfied.

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Golden Beet and Barley Salad with Rainbow Chard
Golden beets, red onions, barley and wilted chard stems are tossed with a quick lemony dressing and topped with a sprinkle of salty feta.
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Polenta Bowl with Garlicky Spinach, Chicken Sausage & Poached Egg

You can make everything but the poached egg for this lunch ahead. And if you have a microwave in your office, you can use it to easily poach the egg for an envy-inducing, gourmet lunch.

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Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese

A combination of farro and pearl couscous serves as the base, and goat cheese adds the perfect finishing touch.

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Lentil Dal with Hearty Greens

This bone-warming Indian dish is an incredibly satisfying lunch on a dreary day. Enjoy it as a soup or eat it over rice if you’re extra hungry.

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8 / 22
Antipasti Bar Pasta

Think of this pasta salad more as a template than a recipe. Follow the loose guidelines, peruse your own grocery store’s antipasti bar, and gather a few of your personal favorites to make this dish your own.

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Quinoa Bowl with Kung Pao Edamame

Vegetarians, this is the make-ahead lunch for you. Thanks to the edamame and peanuts (along with the quinoa), it is packed full of healthy proteins. Plus, who can say no to a little spicy kung pao flavor?

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10 / 22
Quinoa Tabbouleh
In this riff on traditional tabbouleh, the bulgur gets replaced with tender, nutty quinoa. It's a make-ahead salad, perfect for summer barbecues.
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One Bowl Mung Bean Meal

The sprouted mung beans make this recipe a nutritional powerhouse. We recommend having it on hand for Monday lunch if you’re attempting to make up for a weekend of indulgence.

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Brown Rice Bowl with Lemongrass, Tofu and Cashews

This simple recipe gets its fresh flavor from the lemongrass, and can be easily adapted to whatever you might have in your fridge or pantry.

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Vegan Amaranth Bowl with Garam Masala Butternut Squash

You may be more likely to enjoy amaranth in your breakfast bowl, but this recipe gives it a savory profile, with garlicky collards and garam masala butternut squash.

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Brown Rice Bowl with Maple-Glazed Tempeh and Tahini-Miso Dressing

This rice bowl has so many things going for it: creamy avocado, tangy sauerkraut, good-for-you brown rice, and a sweet take on tempeh, thanks to the maple glaze. Even meat eaters will love this veggie bowl.

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Pork & Green Chile Stew (Chile Verde)

Make a batch of this New Mexico-inspired pork stew on the weekend, and you can live off of it for lunches for the rest of the week. Bonus: It just gets better as the week goes on.

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Millet Bowl with Breaded Garlic Shrimp

Thanks to frozen corn, you can enjoy this summery grain bowl year-round. Be sure to take the time to bread the shrimp; the crispy coating is definitely worth the extra step — and crunch!

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Borlotti Beans in Tomato Sauce with Creamy Polenta

Also known as cranberry beans, borlotti beans are as delicious to eat as their name is to say. If you don’t want to worry about creamy polenta, you can also serve this over polenta slices or even polenta fries.

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Big-Hearted Macaroni & Cheese with Artichokes

Whenever you add veggies to macaroni and cheese, you make it just a little bit healthier. And while you normally see broccoli or spinach, this version made with artichokes is one of our favorites.

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Roast Chicken and 3-Rice Salad

Reach for a rotisserie chicken to make this deeply flavored recipe a little easier on yourself. Also, definitely feel free to swap in arugula if you can’t track down shiso.

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Kale & Quinoa Salad with Dates, Almonds & Citrus Dressing

The key to a good make-ahead lunch salad is assembling one that has lots of textures and flavors built in. It makes it feel less like diet food, and more like a fresh, healthy lunch.

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Colorful Lentil Salad with Walnuts & Herbs

When you’ve had your fill of grain salads, try making one with lentils as a base instead. Not only will you get an extra dose of protein, but you’ll mix up your lunch routine in the most delightful way.

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Farro Bowl with Crispy Salmon and Toasted Sesame Spinach

If you haven’t explored cooking farro, now is the time to try it. The sturdy, nutty grain has a strong enough flavor to pair well with other dominating ingredients, like salmon or sesame spinach. Believe us — you won’t regret getting to know this grain.

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