25 Things to Pack for Lunch that Are Not Sandwiches

I bring lunch to work every day. I happen to work at a school (okay, a university--but it counts!) so they are technically "school lunches": as I have said many times, school lunch is school lunch no matter the age of the person who eats it. So if you're looking for some ideas, whether for work or for school, I've wrangled some of my favorite past recipes and lunches for inspiration this back-to-school season.
1. Chicken salad lettuce wraps are a fun alternative to sandwiches, and gluten free!

2. Ricotta dip (recipe given here) and sun-dried tomato hummus pinwheels make for a simple vegetarian lunch, and the dip is a nice change of pace from my usual yogurt ranch. Both are very easy to do.

3. If you're tired of the same old hard boiled egg, try pretty marbled tea eggs.

4. Or shake things up with these naturally pink eggs. (The ones above sat in the beet juice for an extra day or two; the ones in the linked recipe still have some white around them.)

5. You can also color rice purple naturally.

6. Varying what you stuff into eggs is fun! These are Caesar salad stuffed eggs. With a bonus...

7. You can also stuff things into tomatoes when you have the right size on hand. Get the recipes for both the Caesar salad stuffed eggs and crab stuffed tomatoes pictured above here.

8. Feeling industrious? Try some mini spam musubi.

9. These smoked salmon pinwheels are deceptively easy to make.

10. Or make salmon salad and stuff it into the hollow of an avocado. This was too delicious for words.

11. These Impossible Pizza Rolls are my most popular post ever--and they're super easy.

12. Try breakfast for lunch. So easy, especially when you already made breakfast and can just throw some extras in your lunch pail.

13. Quesadillas don't have to be filled with Mexican flavors. Try spinach and feta.

14. Stuff raspberries with white chocolate chips. It balances the tartness and makes fruit into a decadent dessert. Plus, they fit perfectly!

15. You can make omelets in the oven if you're not great at the stovetop version. And chopped strawberries over oatmeal are surprisingly satisfying at noon.

16. Use silicone baking cups to round up odds and ends.

17. Scallion pancakes make excellent wraps.

18. Chicken nuggets and mini waffles pack well.

19. Salad is obvious, of course, but worth mentioning. Add crackers and cheese and you've got a full meal, especially when you put fruit and protein in the salad.

20. Don't underestimate how glorious smoked trout can be with a little cream cheese and chives to spread on mini toast slices.

21. Banana "sushi" (with peanut butter and a tortilla) are filling and nutritious.

22. Mini quiches with a simple Bisquick crust make for an easy dinner + lunch the next day.

23. Homemade pimento cheese with pretzel thins is a nice change of pace. Or try something similar with my Jarlsberg cheese spread.

24. Hummus can be doctored with all sorts of things. My favorite is chopped pepperoni and scallions with olive tapenade-flavored hummus.

25. Lunchables were a good idea, but expensive and poorly executed. You can do better for your wallet with a lot less waste--and there are tons of variations on crackers, cheese, meat, and various other finger foods that will never show up in a mass-produced box. These crackers are rice and almond thins. You'll never see those in a Lunchable!

Check out my recipe index for more ideas, or just follow along on my daily journey. See you tomorrow with a new lunch. Happy packing!

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What Kids Eat Wednesday


  1. Wow, so many delicious lunches here! They are all making me very hungry! I love that you pack your own lunches every day and that they are all so healthy and varied. I bet you are always making your co-workers mouths water! :)

    Christine @ MyEpicureanAdventures :)

    1. Thanks! Truth be told I'm too cheap to buy lunch out most of the time anyway! My co-workers don't quite know what to make of me, I think.


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