I can think of a nearly endless list of reasons why sandwiches have become our default lunch. They're quick and easy, can be made in advance, have the potential to hold up well, don't always require a fridge, and they're easy to eat with one hand when you're on the go or stuck at your desk.
But I can show you even better alternatives that are infinitely more exciting and delicious for when lunchtime rolls around. Because you can do so much better than a sad sandwich! Here are 20 lunch options to pack instead.
If your lunch routine thrives on Sunday meal prep and make-ahead meals (or even if it's something you aspire to), Buddha bowls are such a great lunch option. They give you a little of everything — grains, protein, veggies, and a sauce. Store the sauce separately, and wait until the morning before heading out the door to drizzle it over your bowl.
- Beef and Broccoli Buddha Bowls
- Spicy Thai Chicken and Brown Rice Bowls
- Greek Chicken Grain Bowls
- Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Bowls
- BBQ Tofu Salad Bowls
Bean and Lentil Salads
Swap greens for beans when you need a quick and easy filling lunch that holds up well. Protein-rich beans and lentils are inexpensive, can be partnered with so many different ingredients, and are just as delicious when eaten cold or at room temp.
- Tomato Chickpea Salad
- Marinated White Beans
- Tomato and Feta White Bean Salad
- Spicy Salmon Black Bean Salad
- Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives
Grains and Noodles
A loaded gain salad or saucy noodles beat out boring sandwiches any day of the week. Hearty grains (like farro) and noodles (like rice and soba) all hold up well when made in advance. If you can, wait until the morning or night before to toss in the sauce. This way t grains and noodles will soak up the flavor without getting soggy.
- Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Pine Nuts
- No-Chop Cold Veggie Noodle Bowls with Soy Lime Vinaigrette
- Cold Sesame Chicken and Noodle Salad
- Garlicky Soba Noodle Bowls
- Smoked Salmon Soba Noodle Salad
Savory Muffins and Quesadillas
Reimagine your favorite sandwich into a savory muffin. Not only are these handheld lunches super portable, but they're also easy to make ahead in big batches. Even options like a ham, egg, and cheese quesadilla can be made in a big batch and stashed in the freezer.