60 of Our Fastest Lunch Ideas

updated Jul 29, 2022
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

For many, the question “What’s for dinner?” is top of mind day in and day out. But for me it’s “What’s for lunch?” Even as someone who finds great joy in cooking and preparing meals — and does it for a living — the question befuddles me. Most days, I find myself staring into the fridge as the clock ticks until my next meeting, hoping lunch will magically present itself with a snap of a finger. Truth be told, I settle for hummus and carrot sticks more often than I care to admit.

If, like me, you crave some inspiration in the midday meal department, look no further. Here are 60 of Kitchn’s best ideas for easy and fast lunches. Whether it’s a big, veggie-packed salad recipe you crave; a cold, crisp sandwich; a glorious clean-out-the-fridge grain bowl, or something else entirely that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know you want it to be healthy and delicious, I am pretty sure you’ll find what you’re looking for among these recipes.

And as for what keeps them fast and easy, some of these lunches can be pulled together in mere minutes, while others rely on just a few pantry ingredients and whatever you’ve got lingering in the crisper, and some can be made entirely in advance and leave you with leftovers for days to come. Lunchtime anxieties, meet your maker.

Veggie-Packed Salads

Lunch is a golden opportunity to get a few servings of vegetables into your day. I am not talking about munching on a boring green salad, though. These salads are so packed with good things — feel-good protein, nuts, cheese, and flavorful dressings — your fork won’t know what to spear next.

1 / 11
Broccoli and Kale Caesar Salad
This hearty vegan broccoli and kale salad is topped with golden croutons and a velvety vegan Caesar dressing made with roasted garlic and cashews.
Go to Recipe
2 / 11
Shrimp, Grapefruit, and Avocado Salad
A speedy salad filled with tender shrimp, juicy grapefruit, and creamy slices of avocado is exactly the lunch to make on a busy weekday.
Go to Recipe
3 / 11
Chicken and Veggie Pesto Salad
Filled with a robust assortment of tender veggies, strips of juicy chicken, and tossed with an herby pesto, this no-lettuce salad is a lunchtime essential.
Go to Recipe
4 / 11
Veggie-Packed Chopped Salad
This salad is crisp, crunchy, and oh-so refreshing. It's also endlessly riffable, and can last for days in the fridge.
Go to Recipe
5 / 11
Avocado Caprese Salad
There's only one ingredient that makes a classic caprese better: avocados.
Go to Recipe
6 / 11
Easy Spinach Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Feta
This simple baby spinach salad filled with fruit, nuts, and cheese is a perfect lunch any day of the week.
Go to Recipe
7 / 11
Farmers Market Salad
No matter what you bring home from the farmers market, use it in this twist on a classic Cobb dressed with an herby vinaigrette.
Go to Recipe
8 / 11
Trader Joe's Mediterranean Falafel Salad
This fast vegetarian salad is made completely with some of your favorite Trader Joe's ingredients.
Go to Recipe
9 / 11
Vegetarian Kale Taco Salad
Since kale doesn't wilt when dressed, you can assemble this salad well ahead of time and it will stay perfectly fresh.
Go to Recipe
10 / 11
Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous Salad
Feel free to pick up a bag of fresh or frozen cauliflower rice to make this salad rather than ricing the vegetable yourself.
Go to Recipe
11 / 11
Tofu and Broccoli Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing
Since you're starting with tofu that's already baked, this colorful salad comes together in a flash.
Go to Recipe

Whole Grains and Pasta

Things like farro, quinoa, couscous, and pasta are ideal lunch candidates because you probably already have one or two of them in your pantry. All that’s required is to jazz them up with a few interesting add-ins and you’ve got a meal that not only lasts for days in the fridge, but that you can also eat warm, room temperature, or cold.

1 / 14
Grain Salad with Use-It-All-Up Pesto
This hearty, satisfying main-meal salad can be made with rice or whatever grain you have in the pantry: farro, millet, quinoa, etc. Orzo or couscous are also great options.
Go to Recipe
2 / 14
Caesar Pasta Salad
You're destined to become lunchtime lovers with this creamy Caesar dressing-based pasta salad. It's dotted with bite-size pieces of juicy chicken breast, crisp romaine lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crispy croutons, and shards of salty Parmesan cheese.
Go to Recipe
3 / 14
Tropical Quinoa Salad with Creamy Mango Dressing
This light, refreshing salad is packed with avocado, mango, and quinoa, then tossed in a creamy mango dressing.
Go to Recipe
4 / 14
Farro and Broccoli Salad
This hearty make-ahead salad has farro, broccoli, smoked almonds, aged cheddar, golden raisins, and dried cranberries, and is served with a quick pickled shallot viniagrette.
Go to Recipe
5 / 14
Pesto Pasta Salad
It's hard to beat tendrils of pasta, fresh mozzarella pearls, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy cucumber dressed in a basil pesto sauce.
Go to Recipe
6 / 14
Greek Pasta Salad
This Greek-inspired pasta salad is filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, and feta and dressed in a tangy oregano vinaigrette.
Go to Recipe
7 / 14
Sesame Ginger Pasta Salad
Colorful bell peppers, tender pasta, and ribbons of radicchio are tossed in a sesame-ginger dressing.
Go to Recipe
8 / 14
Antipasto Grain Salad
This vibrant, no-wilt farro salad, which is packed with buttery olives, peppadew peppers, fresh mozzarella, and more, gets even better as it sits.
Go to Recipe
9 / 14
Broccoli and Feta Pasta Salad
This pasta salad, filled with broccoli, feta, and Kalamata olives, is made even more colorful if you use tri-color dried pasta.
Go to Recipe
10 / 14
Orzo Tabbouleh
This fresh twist on classic Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad replaces the bulgur with orzo pasta.
Go to Recipe
11 / 14
Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta, Chickpeas, and Herbs
Toss chewy Israeli couscous with chickpeas, tomatoes, and herbs and you know you in for something good.
Go to Recipe
12 / 14
Roast Chicken and 3-Rice Salad
Feel free to pick up a rotisserie chicken and shred the meat to make this toothsome rice salad extra easy to prepare
Go to Recipe
13 / 14
Asparagus & Prosciutto Pasta Salad
Grilled asparagus, prosciutto ribbons, and baby spinach star in a fast and fancy pasta salad.
Go to Recipe
14 / 14
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This easy, make-ahead quinoa salad is filled with fresh vegetables, herbs, and creamy goat cheese.
Go to Recipe

Beans and Lentils

These protein-packed ingredients deserve lots of lunch love because they’ll keep you satisfied through the afternoon, thanks to all their good protein and fiber. Plus, just like pasta and grains, you probably have a can of chickpeas or a bag of lentils in your kitchen at this very moment.

1 / 10
Mediterranean Tuna and White Bean Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette
This easy recipe for an Italian-inspired tuna and white bean salad is also filled with fennel, radicchio, and arugula.
Go to Recipe
2 / 10
Tomato Chickpea Salad
Tomatoes and chickpeas are tossed in a simple vinaigrette for an easy lunch that could also be a light dinner.
Go to Recipe
3 / 10
Spicy Salmon Black Bean Salad
This quick black bean salad is filled with flavorful hot smoked salmon, tomatoes, and avocado, then tossed in a cumin-lime dressing.
Go to Recipe
4 / 10
Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives
The briny, salty bite that olives deliver have a way of make this light and fresh salad taste extra satisfying.
Go to Recipe
5 / 10
Chopped Chickpea Salad
This meal-worthy salad puts toothsome, protein-packed chickpeas in the center of your bowl to build a truly filling salad for lunch.
Go to Recipe
6 / 10
Tomato and Feta White Bean Salad
Loads of juicy tomatoes and salty feta crumbles make this white bean salad completely moreish.
Go to Recipe
7 / 10
Black Bean Salad with Corn and Avocado
This classic black bean salad is packed with bright, refreshing flavors like corn, tomatoes, and cilantro, and has a kick from fresh garlic, jalapeño, and red onion.
Go to Recipe
8 / 10
Garlicky Chickpea and Fennel Salad with Baked Goat Cheese
Take that pantry can of chickpeas to new heights with the fast and fancy chickpea fennel salad. The real kicker is the fried goat cheese that goes on top.
Go to Recipe
9 / 10
Four-Can Pantry Salad
A quick and easy salad made with pantry ingredients you might already have on hand.
Go to Recipe
10 / 10
Chickpea Waldorf Salad
This clever twist on Waldorf salad adds protein-rich chickpeas to the mix to ensure it will satisfy you through the afternoon.
Go to Recipe

Sandwiches and Wraps

You can’t talk about lunch without talking about sandwiches. While you don’t particularly need a recipe for one (hello, PB&J), a little inspiration after you’ve slipped the same thing between two slices of bread over and over again is always welcome.

1 / 13
Bell Pepper Sandwich
Crunchy bell peppers replace the bread in this deli-style lunch.
Go to Recipe
2 / 13
Apple, Brie, and Dijon Baguette Sandwich
This fast and fancy sandwich really feels like you're treating yourself.
Go to Recipe
3 / 13
Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
This vegetarian take on tuna salad is made with a base of hearty chickpeas and crunchy vegetables. The real heroes, however, are the gut-friendly fermented pickles and creamy Greek yogurt.
Go to Recipe
4 / 13
Sardine Sandwich with Crunchy Fennel Slaw
Crunchy veggies, canned sardines, and a spicy mayo combine to create a cheap, fast, and protein-packed lunch that takes just 10 minutes to make.
Go to Recipe
5 / 13
The Best-Ever California Sandwich
A cool, refreshing veggie sandwich inspired by ones sold in California natural foods grocery stores.
Go to Recipe
6 / 13
Caprese Avocado Toast
Adding fresh mozzarella and juicy tomatoes to your avocado toast is never a bad idea.
Go to Recipe
7 / 13
Peanut Butter, Banana, and Granola Wrap
An easy recipe for a kid- and adult-friendly lunch wrap that takes just a few minutes to make.
Go to Recipe
8 / 13
Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich
This light and easy chicken salad is also wonderful served over greens.
Go to Recipe
9 / 13
Mediterranean Chickpea and Feta Wraps
Cucumbers add loads of refreshing crunch to these whole wheat wraps.
Go to Recipe
10 / 13
Vegan Sourdough Portobello Mushroom Sandwich
Even if you're not vegan, it's hard not to love this veggie-packed sandwich.
Go to Recipe
11 / 13
Egg and Avocado Salad on Toast
Greek yogurt replaces the mayo in this spruced up egg salad.
Go to Recipe
12 / 13
Mediterranean Veggie Pita Sandwich
Sun-dried tomatoes lend a surprising dose of sweetness to this otherwise extra-savory veggie sandwich.
Go to Recipe
13 / 13
Salmon and Kale Caesar Wraps
While canned tuna might get all the attention, don't forget about canned salmon, which in the hero ingredient in these wraps.
Go to Recipe

Other Healthy Lunches

Looking for a non-sandwich lunch and tired of salads? These ideas have your back. Things like veggie patties, stuffed baked potatoes, and frittatas keep lunchtime interesting.

1 / 12
Everything Bagel Hummus Bowl Recipe
All the things you love about a smoked salmon bagel in one satisfying (and gluten-free) lunch bowl.
Go to Recipe
2 / 12
The Easiest Cheese and Vegetable Frittata
A frittata for your favorite produce. Or just the vegetables you forgot in the crisper.
Go to Recipe
3 / 12
No-Chop Cold Veggie Noodle Bowls With Soy Lime Vinaigrette
This vegetable sauté served over rice noodles is everything you'll crave in a cold noodle bowl.
Go to Recipe
4 / 12
Greek-Style Tuna Salad
A light and wholesome Mediterranean-inspired tuna salad that's packed with cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and fresh herbs.
Go to Recipe
5 / 12
Single-Serve Microwave Shakshuka
This single serve lunch boasts a runny-yolked egg nestled in a spicy tomato chickpea sauce. And yes, it's made in the microwave and done in 5 minutes.
Go to Recipe
6 / 12
Zucchini-Chickpea Fritters with Red Onion Jam
Feel free to skip the onion jam — these fritters are just as good without it.
Go to Recipe
7 / 12
The Best Baked Falafel
If you think making falafel from scratch is difficult, you haven't tried this easy baked version.
Go to Recipe
8 / 12
Ham, Egg, and Cheese Wraps
This is the perfect sandwich-like wrap for those who are gluten-free or looking for a high-protein option.
Go to Recipe
9 / 12
Salmon and Black Sesame Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)
Japanese Onigiri are a fast and filling quick bite lunch.
Go to Recipe
10 / 12
Sweet Potatoes with Chickpea Tomato Sauce
Bake an extra sweet potato or two when making dinner and these hearty lunch comes together in minutes.
Go to Recipe
11 / 12
Buffalo Cauliflower Lettuce Wraps
Lettuce wraps are hardly boring when you get Buffalo sauce involved.
Go to Recipe
12 / 12
Sweet Potato-Chickpea Patties with Sriracha-Yogurt Dip
Feel free to slip these patties inside split pita bread for an even heartier lunch.
Go to Recipe

Get 10 Days of Our Favorite Lunch Recipes Straight to Your Inbox

Get inspired for your next midday meal — sign up for Let's Lunch and receive 10 days of our favorite lunch recipes.