We’re holding on to summer for dear life, but whether we like it or not, back-to-school season is fast approaching! And, if your kiddos are returning to the classroom, or you’re getting back to the office, lunch may be on your mind. So, why not make the fall transition easier on yourself by planning ahead with healthy packable lunch ideas?
We have you covered with six delicious meal prep lunch ideas that you’ll love even if you aren’t going back to school.
Components of a Healthy Packable Lunch
First, let’s break down some key ingredients to keep in mind when planning your healthy meal prep lunch ideas — the most important thing here is balance.
You want your lunch to be filling, nourishing, and full of nutrient-dense foods to keep your blood sugar stable and your energy levels high.
When brainstorming your meal prep lunch ideas, consider having a balance of:
Clean protein — turkey, chicken, wild-caught salmon, hard-boiled eggs, beans, lentils
Healthy fats — such as avocados, nuts, seeds
Complex carbs — think fruits, veggies, quinoa
Let’s take a closer look at what this looks like IRL with six healthy packable lunch ideas you’ll actually look forward to eating each day.
6 Healthy & Delicious Packable Lunches
These can all be adjusted based on taste or food preference. Don’t like turkey? Try chicken instead. Want to make it dairy-free? Skip the cheese. Prefer low-carb lunch ideas? Swap the clean carbs for healthy fats.
#1 Healthy Turkey Club Sandwich
- 1 gluten-free sandwich bun
- 1 tbsp avocado mayonnaise
- 2 slices of turkey breast (like Applegate brand)
- 1 slice of cooked bacon
- ¼ avocado, sliced
- Lettuce and tomato
Step #1: Start by adding the mayo to the sandwich bun along with the turkey and bacon.
Step #2: Top with avocado, lettuce, and tomato.
Step #3: Add to your packable lunch container along with any other optional add-ins.
Nuts of choice: almonds, walnuts, cashews.
Fruit of choice: berries, grapes, apple, clementine.
Sliced veggies: carrots, cucumber, celery.
#2 Turkey Burger & Greens Bento Box
Low-carb lunch ideas are some of the easiest meals to customize. Craving carbs? Toss in some grilled sweet potatoes from last night’s dinner!
- 1 cooked turkey burger or sliced roasted turkey breast
- 1 cup broccoli florets, steamed
- 4 small cheddar cheese cubes (optional)
- Dressing of choice for drizzling
Step #1: Add all ingredients minus the dressing to a bento-style lunch box.
Step #2: Drizzle with dressing of choice.
Step #3: Pack to enjoy as a simple and filling on the go lunch.
Fresh fruit of choice.
Almond flour crackers (like Simple Mills brand).
#3 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Pasta Salad
Sometimes the yummiest meal prep lunch ideas are a product of dinner leftovers. Transform last night’s pasta and veggies into a delicious pasta salad with ease.
- 1 cup cooked gluten-free pasta (use chickpea or lentil pasta for added protein!)
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar or Italian dressing (like Primal Kitchen brand)
- ½ cup cannellini beans (optional for added protein)
- 1/4 tomato, cubed
- ½ cucumber, chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped red onion
- Freshly chopped herbs of choice
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Step #1: Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and toss to combine.
Step #2: Transfer to an on the go lunch container and enjoy!
Side of fresh fruit of choice.
Piece of 70% or darker dark chocolate.
#4 Healthy Chicken Salad
Protein-packed low-carb lunch ideas don’t have to be complicated. And, this healthy packable lunch is easy to customize for any eating plan or meal preference. Don’t like chicken? Swap it out for a protein-rich substitute like salmon or chickpeas!
- 1 cup cooked shredded chicken (rotisserie works well)
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- 2 tbsp chopped red onion
- 2 tbsp avocado-based mayo
- Freshly chopped herbs of choice (dill is super yummy!)
- Drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch of sea salt and pepper
Step #1: Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well.
Step #2: Transfer to a container that’s easy to take on the go and serve on its own or with lettuce leaves.
Almond flour crackers with nut butter (like Simple Mills brand).
Banana or fruit of choice.
#5 Avocado Turkey Roll-Ups
If you’re looking for nutritious low-carb lunch ideas with minimal prep time and clean-up, look no further.
- 3 slices roasted turkey breast (like Applegate brand)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ½ avocado, sliced
Step #1: Start by adding the mustard and sliced avocado to the center of each slice of turkey. Roll up and add to your packable lunch container (such as a bento-style box).
Sliced bell pepper and cucumber served with hummus.
Fruit of choice.
#6 Breakfast For Lunch Bento Box
When in doubt, breakfast for lunch is always a good idea. Meal prep lunch ideas made simple.
- ½ cup cooked rolled oats
- 1 hard-boiled egg
- ½ sliced banana
- Sprinkle of hemp seeds
- Drizzle of pure maple syrup
Step #1: Add the rolled oats to a bento-style box and serve alongside a sliced hard-boiled egg and sliced banana.
Step #2: Sprinkle with hemp seeds and enjoy with a drizzle of pure maple syrup
½ sliced avocado.
Meal Prep Upgrade Tips
Put your healthy packable lunch ideas to good use with these simple hacks.
#1 Plan Out Your Meals in Advance!
When it comes to meal prep lunch ideas, gather your inspo a week in advance to allow plenty of time to plan out your menu.
#2 Organize Your Pantry and Fridge
Before you can start prepping your packable lunch ideas, you’ll need all the ingredients! Take an inventory of your kitchen to determine what items are missing.
#3 Buy Bulk
Having staples on hand and ready to use (like oats, sweet potatoes, and quinoa) can make meal prep lunch ideas come to life with ease. This works for low-carb lunch ideas, too! Fill your kitchen with nuts, seeds, and frozen staples like broccoli — you’ll save time and money.
#4 Make a List!
This is the most important rule when planning meal prep lunch ideas. Never go to the store empty-handed!
Give Your Lunch an Upgrade No Matter What Back to School Looks Like For You
No matter what this season of life looks like for you (back to school, back to work, staying at home), upgrading your lunch with some drool-worthy and equally as nourishing meal prep lunch ideas is always a good plan.
So, use these six healthy packable lunch ideas as an excuse to give your daily lunch a bit of an upgrade — your tastebuds will thank you!
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