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100+ of Our Best Lunch Box Recipes

updated Aug 4, 2022
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This time of year parents are inundated with lists: lists from teachers on the school door, the school supply lists from the district, and the school clothes wishlist from your second-grader (no? Just mine?). Here’s a list that we hope will actually be helpful to you as you endeavor to pack 180 school lunches (multiplied by however many people you’re packing for) this year.

These are 100+ of our best lunchbox recipes — everything from sandwich basics to hearty pasta salad you can make in bulk. Plus you’ll also find links to over 100 of our best lunchbox filling ideas with combinations for preschoolers, sandwich-haters, and even your partner doing a Whole30. We’re rooting for you!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Sandwiches

This line up includes some of our favorite ways to go beyond classic PB&J.

1 / 13
Pinwheel
These spiraly snacks only take 15 minutes to assemble.
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2 / 13
Egg Salad Sandwich
Not only do fresh chives and dill add a bright pop of color and flavor, they make this otherwise basic egg salad taste like something you'd get from a fancy deli.
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3 / 13
Apple, Brie, and Dijon Baguette Sandwich
All the components join forces to make for one stellar sandwich that you’ll be tempted to make all week long.
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4 / 13
Pesto and Egg Baguette Sandwich
This baguette sandwich is a fun little twist on egg salad.
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5 / 13
A Very French Ham and Cheese Baguette
Here's the Frenchiest sandwich you can make for lunch.
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6 / 13
Peanut Butter, Banana, and Granola Wrap
This easy recipe for a kid- and adult-friendly lunch wrap takes just a few minutes to make.
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7 / 13
Mediterranean Veggie Pita Sandwich
This simple sandwich packs a lot of flavor and nutrition, which makes it ideal for an easy weekday meal.
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8 / 13
Roasted Red Pepper, Chicken & Mozzarella Sandwich
This is a great option for using up leftover chicken or turning a rotisserie chicken into lunch.
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9 / 13
Ham, Brie, Marmalade and Arugula Pressed Sandwich
Yes, adding marmalde to your sandwich is just as amazing as it sounds.
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10 / 13
Apple Sandwiches
Swap sun butter for the peanut butter to keep this kid-friendly option nut-free.
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11 / 13
Freezer Club Sandwiches
If you've ever considered getting a serious jump start on sandwich-making, this one's for you.
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12 / 13
Turkey Wraps with Honey Mustard Dip
Whipped cream cheese make this turkey wrap anything but basic.
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13 / 13
Ham, Egg, and Cheese Wraps
Opt for cornstarch over flour to keep these pinwheels gluten-free.
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Muffin, Buns, and Hand Pies

Try one of these when you want a hand-held lunch that’s not a sandwich.

1 / 10
Ham and Cheddar Lunch Box Muffins
These hearty muffins are mixed with a touch of cornmeal for some extra heft and texture, plus they freeze like a dream.
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2 / 10
Muffin Pan Deep-Dish Pizzas
Your standard muffin tin is perfect for making lunchbox-sized pizzas.
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3 / 10
Asparagus, Ham, and Cheese Stuffed Buns
A tune of store-bought biscuit dough keeps this buns extra-easy.
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4 / 10
5 / 10
Savory Muffins with Prosciutto & Chives
When you don't want a sandwich, but do want something savory you can eat with your hands, this is one of our favorite solutions.
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6 / 10
Everything Bagel Hand Pies
These breakfast hand pies, almost like miniature calzones, are filled with scrambled eggs and scallions, then topped with everything bagel seasoning.
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7 / 10
Spinach and Feta Hand Pies
These savory hand pies are inspired by spanikopita.
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8 / 10
Chickpea and Cheddar Quesadillas
To make these quesadillas lunchbox-friendly, we ditched the wedge cut for a technique that keeps the chickpeas and cheese nestled in a closed tortilla.
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9 / 10
Pita Pockets with Crunchy Romaine, Roasted Beets, Chicken & Manchego Cheese
Get a head start by mixing together the filling the night before, then stuffing the pitas in the morning before packing lunch.
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10 / 10
Loaded Savory Breakfast Muffins
This savory muffin's got it all: eggs, sausage, cheese, spinach, and even a bit of apple to help you power through your day.
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Bean and Lentil Salads

The beauty of these protein-packed lunches is that they can be made in advance, and most get even better as they sit.

1 / 8
Tomato Chickpea Salad
Filled with good things like chickpeas and cherry tomatoes, it’s simple yet still incredibly hearty and satisfying. And it can be pulled together in mere minutes.
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2 / 8
Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives
If you are planning to eat the salad throughout the week, wait until before serving each day to add the mint.
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3 / 8
Easy Lemon-Marinated Bean and Vegetable Salad
Creamy white beans and crunchy vegetables marinated in a honey-lemon vinaigrette is the ultimate make once, eat all week lunch.
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4 / 8
Spicy Salmon Black Bean Salad
Both salmon and black beans give this salad the kind of protein boost that’s often needed when you hit that noon slump.
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5 / 8
Tomato and Feta White Bean Salad
This light and easy recipe for a no-cook tomato and white bean salad is perfect to make before the season's tomatoes disappear.
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6 / 8
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.
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7 / 8
Warm French Lentil Salad with Bacon & Herbs
Warm, chilled, or room temp, this salad is a hit any which way you serve it.
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8 / 8
Thanksgiving Lentil Salad
This hearty lentil salad is one to keep bookmarked all year long, it's not just for Thanksgiving. And it you can't find butternut squash, go ahead and swap in sweet potato.
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Grain Salads

Cook up your favorite whole grain, turn it into a hearty salad, and you’ll have lunch for days to come.

1 / 10
Grain Salad with Use-It-All-Up Pesto
This hearty, satisfying main-course 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.
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2 / 10
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This easy, make-ahead recipe for quinoa salad is filled with fresh vegetables, herbs, and cheese that's perfect for a packable lunch.
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3 / 10
Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad
Mixed with quinoa, beans, and vibrant fresh veggies, and topped with a zippy chili-lime vinaigrette, this is a big batch salad that everyone can eat.
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4 / 10
Summer Vegetable Grain Salad
This light quinoa salad is packed with summer vegetables and tossed in a pesto vinaigrette.
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5 / 10
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.
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6 / 10
Barley Salad with Figs and Tarragon-Lemon Dressing
This one is bound to become a regular in your lunch line up.
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7 / 10
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.
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8 / 10
Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Pine Nuts
The eggplant soaks up lots of flavor from the olive oil and balsamic vinegar as it roasts, and the caramelized onions add a touch of sweetness.
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9 / 10
Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta, Chickpeas, and Herbs
Serve it on its own for lunch, pile it on top of greens, or stuff in a pita.
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10 / 10
Couscous Salad with Cucumber, Red Onion & Herbs
This salad bears some resemblance to tabbouleh, but it’s heavier on the grains and has even more fresh vegetables.
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Chicken and Tuna Salads

The classics are always good, but wait til you try some of these variations.

1 / 10
Curried Chicken Salad
A few hints of sweetness take this classic curried chicken salad into a winner that you can stuff into bread or eat as lettuce wraps.
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2 / 10
Tarragon Chicken Salad
This classic chicken salad from The Silver Palate Cookbook is one that's worth learning by heart.
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3 / 10
Italian Chicken Salad
This flavor-packed chicken salad is loaded with herbs and wrapped up in tangy Dijon vinaigrette.
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4 / 10
Pesto Chicken Salad
Juicy, shredded chicken is tossed with a creamy combo of fresh pesto and mayo, and studded with sundried tomatoes for extra richness.
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5 / 10
Chicken Waldorf Salad
Eat it on its own, pack it in a lettuce wrap, over a bed of greens, or as a sandwich.
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6 / 10
Yogurt & Dill Chicken Salad
The simplest chicken salad is the best! Start with precooked chicken and you only need dill, shallots, yogurt & mayo for this lighter chicken salad.
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7 / 10
Avocado Tuna Salad
Creamy avocado replaces mayo in this tasty tuna salad.
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8 / 10
Tuna Salad
Tuna salad is lunchtime comfort food. This basic recipe is the perfect mix of creamy and crunchy, with a mix of tuna, mayo, pickle relish, celery, shallot, and lemon juice.
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9 / 10
Greek-Style Tuna Salad
This light and wholesome Mediterranean-inspired tuna salad that's packed with cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and fresh herbs.
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10 / 10
Crisp Tuna-Cabbage Salad
Thinly sliced cabbage gives this lunchtime classic a totally satisfying crunch.
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Noodles

Noodles are a good lunch option for big and little eater, alike.

1 / 6
Sesame Noodles
The ultimate refreshing cold noodle dish of chewy noodles tossed in a tossed in a sesame-peanut sauce.
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2 / 6
Instant Noodle Cups
You'll be surprised how easy it really is to make these at home.
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3 / 6
Rainbow Noodle Salad
Salad is always more fun when the veggies are spiralized into noodles.
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4 / 6
Crunchy Cabbage & Ramen Noodle Salad
Starting with a bag of pre-shredded slaw makes the prep extra-fast.
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5 / 6
Cold Sesame Chicken and Noodle Salad
This crowd-pleasing chilled noodle salad brings bright and savory flavors to the potluck along with chicken and a rich sesame ginger dressing.
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6 / 6
Chilled Lemon-Dill Cucumber Noodles
Twirl your fork around these thin, ultra-crisp cucumber noodles dressed with a vinaigrette of lemon zest, olive oil, a little garlic, and dill.
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Pasta Salads

Pasta salad is always a good idea for lunch. It can be made in advance, lasts for days, and some can last the morning with being refrigerated.

1 / 10
Easy Pasta Salad
This goes-anywhere, has-everything pasta salad is one we think you should know by heart.
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2 / 10
Lemon Herb Pasta Salad with Green Beans
This light and fresh pasta salad is packed with fresh herbs, snappy green beans, and a sunny lemon vinaigrette.
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3 / 10
Pasta Salad Without Mayo
This easy-to-make pasta salad has a creamy flavor, but ditches the mayo in favor of a rich vinaigrette and soft cheese.
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4 / 10
Pasta Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tuna, and Oregano Vinaigrette
Any short pasta will work in this family-friendly recipe.
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5 / 10
Pesto Pasta Salad
Nothing says summer like tendrils of pasta, fresh mozzarella pearls, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy cucumber dressed in a basil pesto sauce.
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6 / 10
Greek Pasta Salad
This easy recipe for a Greek-inspired pasta salad is filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, and feta and dressed in a tangy oregano vinaigrette.
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7 / 10
Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
You can pull this one together with just 4 ingredients.
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8 / 10
BLT Pasta Salad
This pasta salad takes everything you love about that classic sandwich, then folds it into a summery side that's sure to be a hit at your next potluck.
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9 / 10
Broccoli and Feta Pasta Salad
This make-ahead favorite gets better day after day.
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10 / 10
Sesame Ginger Pasta Salad
If you’re looking for a fresh and filling meal to eat between Zoom calls all week long, this pasta salad is it.
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More Lunchbox Ideas

No matter what kind of lunch you’re packing, here’s some more inspiration to guide you.

2 / 7
Credit: Kitchn
10 Super Easy (and Healthy!) Lunch Box Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers
Got a little eater? Fill 'em up with these smart and delicious lunch box ideas.
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4 / 7
Credit: Kitchn
10 Easy Vegan Lunch Box Ideas
A bounty of colorful lunch boxes filled with protein-packed mains and lots of fruit and veggies.
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5 / 7
Credit: Kitchn
10 Easy Whole30 Lunch Ideas
Make-ahead Whole30 meals that are anything but boring.
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6 / 7
Credit: Kitchn
10 Easy Lunches That Don’t Need to Be Refrigerated
If you don't have access to a fridge for your lunch and aren't quite sure what to pack, this is the place to start!
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7 / 7
Credit: Kitchn
10 Easy Lunch Box Ideas for Vegetarians
Make-ahead lunches filled with creative meat-free mains and lots of fresh produce.
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