Healthy Lunch Ideas: Brown Bag Recipes

Brighten up your brown-bag lunch with healthy lunch recipes. With fresh salads, easy sandwiches, and simple snacks, our collection of healthy lunch ideas will save you from unhealthy choices at the drive-through or vending machine. With a close eye on calories, we made sure each and every idea is full of protein and nutrients to get you through the afternoon.

Everything In This Slideshow

  • Turkey Chopped Salad with Orange-Poppy Seed Dressing

    Say good-bye to ho-hum cafeteria salad. This freshly chopped turkey salad is brimming with market-fresh veggies and perfectly crisp bacon. Brighten it up with a baggie of golden tortilla strips and a container of our OJ-base dressing.

    Try It With: Carrot and Zucchini Bars

  • Crunchy PB-and-A Wrap

    Soggy sandwiches are a thing of the past thanks to whole wheat flour tortillas. Use them to roll up this brown-bag classic along with crunchy granola and juicy bites of apple.

    Try It With: Carrot Lemonade

  • Turkey Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

    No need to skip out to your favorite Asian bistro -- just take these perfectly portable, low-cal lettuce wraps to work with you! Use a small container with a tight-fitting lid to store the tongue-tingling dipping sauce, and pack lettuce leaves separately in a resealable plastic bag. Load up your lettuce with the chicken-veggie mixture and a drizzle of sauce when midday rolls around!

    Try It With: Cinnamon-Orange Slices

  • Burrito Bowls

    Seasoned lean meat, cauliflower rice, fresh guacamole, and an abundance of veggies -- what's not to like? To pack this fiber-filled lunch, assemble your burrito bowl in a container with a tight-fitting lid, but leave off the lime dressing. Packing the dressing separately keeps the layers fresh and flavorful.

    Try It With: Honey-Ginger Limeade

  • Picadillo-Style Chicken Taco Salad

    Lunch salads don't get more flavorful than this glorious mixture, featuring ground chicken simmered in an olive, tomato, and prune (yep, prune!) sauce. For optimal crunch, store the crushed tostada shell and saucy chicken mixture in two separate containers. Add them to the lettuce and cheese when you're ready to chow down.

    Try It With: Fruit Bowl Salad with Honey-Mint Dressing

  • Nutty Turkey-Quinoa Salad

    Granny Smith apple, Gouda cheese, and dried fruit give this yummy grain salad its complex flavor. To tote, place this lunch recipe in a container with a tight-fitting lid, and put your favorite light salad dressing in a separate container.

  • Meatless Taco Salad

    Prepare this simple Mexican recipe in the morning for a healthy meal at lunchtime. Reduced-sodium black beans, filled with good-for-you protein and fiber, stand in for meat and layer gorgeously in a pint jar with peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese.

    Brown Bag Lunch Tip: Dress this salad for no longer than 4 hours; if storing for longer, keep salad dressing in a separate container.

  • Spaghetti-Lovers Soup

    This tasty soup might not look healthy at first glance -- but at just 252 calories per serving, looks can be deceiving! We snuck sweet peppers, celery, and carrots into the mix for extra fiber and flavor. Tote it in an insulated container or glass jar for leak-free packing.

    Try It With: Herbed Cheese Whole Wheat Breadsticks

  • Barbecue Beef Wrap

    Shredded roast beef makes delicious leftovers you can savor all week. For these simple wraps, dress the meat in a dollop of tangy barbecue sauce, then roll it up with shredded cheese and crispy slaw.

    Try It With: Sweet tea

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    Red Quinoa Salad with Red Chile Vinaigrette

    When lettuce just won't do, gourmet-up your lunch by combining quinoa, raspberries, beets, and a homemade raspberry red chiile vinaigrette. Noon won't know what hit it.

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    Tofu Spring Rolls

    Beat the boredom of plain lunch meat with our fresh and fast spring rolls. Savory baked tofu and mint lend flavor to these crunchy rolls, which can be dipped in soy sauce or Asian sweet chili sauce.

    Brown Bag Lunch Tip: To prevent spring rolls from sticking together, wrap each one individually in plastic wrap before storing in an insulated container.

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    Avocado and Tomatillo Sandwiches with Pesto

    Homemade ingredients such as pickled red onions and fresh herb pesto keep this easy lunch recipe fresh and flavorful. Four healthy green veggies -- avocado, tomatillo, cucumber, and lettuce -- combine in these low-cal, whole grain sandwiches.

    Brown Bag Lunch Tip: To prevent avocado from browning, brush lightly with lime juice. 

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    Chicken-Broccoli Cups

    These little containers of goodness get their creaminess from a silky blend of low-fat yogurt and light ranch dressing. Pour the mixture over cooked chicken, carrots, and broccoli, then serve over rye crackers for a protein-packed entree.

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    Smoked Salmon Flatbread

    Gather six good-for-you ingredients, and in just 20 minutes you can create this totable lunch that packs a nutritional punch. A thin layer of chives-and-onion cream cheese provides a tangy base for this smoked salmon sandwich, while radishes add crunch.

    Try It With: Baked Root Vegetable Chips

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    Chicken-Egg Salad

    Meet your goal to eat more fruits and veggies with this filling lunch salad that includes a full serving of both. Bright sliced strawberries and sweet peppers create this chicken salad's colorful, healthful middle layer.

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    Deli-Style Submarines

    Shredded carrot and cucumber add delicious crunch and fiber to this 286-calorie sandwich spread with dreamy sour cream ranch dip...and for an even lower-fat sandwich, you can substitute light dip for regular! Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap to keep its layers neat until lunchtime.

    Brown Bag Lunch Tip: If you're preparing this sandwich more than four hours ahead, we recommend storing the sour cream ranch dip separately.

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    Black-Eyed Pea Salad

    A meatless lunch that packs 12 grams of protein? Sign us up! You can eat this spicy, crunchy medley any number of ways: Scoop the mixture up salsa-style with tortilla chips, tuck it in a flatbread or wrap, or eat it straight-up with a spoon. Keep this tasty salad chilled in a tight-lidded container until you're ready to dig in.

    Try It With: Whole-wheat pita flatbread

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    White Bean Tuna Salad

    Hooray for a tuna-starring lunch that doesn't involve mayonnaise! And with this low-cal salad's homemade vinaigrette and flavor-packed ingredients like arugula and red onion, you'll never miss the white stuff. Store the vinaigrette and lemon dressing separately from the tuna, beans, and greens mixture; assemble your salad just before serving for the freshest, crunchiest results.

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    Fresh Tomato Soup

    Perfect tomato soup starts with sun-ripened, in-season tomatoes. Don't have 'em? Canned tomatoes will do. Serve this healthy 70-calorie soup hot or cold with a few sprigs of fresh basil.

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    Roast Pork Salad with Ginger-Pineapple Dressing

    Lean pork roast is a low-calorie lunchtime solution. Prepare the meat a night in advance, then divide it into four salad containers with romaine lettuce and fresh pineapple or nectarines. Tote our homemade ginger-pineapple dressing separately.

    Try It With: Basic chocolate chip cookies

  • 21 of 29

    Sweet and Tangy Chicken Wrap

    Fat-free Greek yogurt, combined with honey and garlic powder, is a healthy substitute for traditional salad dressing. Use it to coat chicken in these spinach- and pomegranate-filled sandwich wraps.

    Try It With: Honey-Rum Fruit Salad

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    Shrimp and Broccoli Noodle Bowl

    Grab your chopsticks and dig in to this Asian-inspired noodle salad. Succulent shrimp provides lean protein, while fresh snow pea pods, green onions, and broccoli slaw fill your vegetable needs. Pack sesame seeds separately and add just before eating for maximum crunch.

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    Greek Sloppy Joe Pitas

    Fill purchased pita rounds with fork-tender lamb, crunchy cucumber, and chickpeas for a fabulous healthy lunch. Pack the wine-simmered mixture in a separate container to avoid soggy pitas.

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    Fast Nicoise Salad

    Go ahead. Indulge in forkfuls of lemony tuna, juicy tomatoes, browned potato wedges, and hard-cooked egg -- all for less than 250 calories. Drizzle the classic French salad with Dijon-spiked dressing just before eating.

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    Orzo-Chicken Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing

    When it comes to healthy chicken salad, it's all about the dressing. Blend smooth avocado and lime with garlic and snappy red pepper for a cool coating you can't resist. Spoon over a base of iron-rich orzo and golden corn right before eating.

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    Caprese Salad Pita Pockets

    Fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil create these Italian-inspired pita pockets. Spoon the oil-tossed ingredients in a whole wheat pita just before munching so the bread won't get soggy.

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    Chicken-Ginger Salads

    Forget takeout. This Asian-inspired chicken salad is healthy, delicious, and a snap to make. Bagged coleslaw creates the crisp base, while dry-roasted peanuts and fresh ginger add authenticity.

    Editor's Tip: Make it a wrap by spooning it into a large butterhead lettuce leaf or a whole grain tortilla. Be sure to pack the dressing in a separate container.

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    Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad with Walnut Pesto

    This easy-to-pack pasta salad is brimming with veggies and garlic-pesto goodness. Zucchini, sweet peppers, and yellow summer squash add bright crunch, while cherry tomatoes offer bursts of healthy vitamins.

  • Next Slideshow Lunch Box Ideas (For Adults!)

    Lunch Box Ideas (For Adults!)

    You know it's true: any tasty lunch you make for yourself will taste 500% better than some icky salad or sad sandwich you would grab from the office cafeteria. Save money and save yourself from a #saddesklunch by making one of these easy not-your-kid's-lunch-box ideas.
    Begin Slideshow »
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