20 Cold Lunch Ideas for Easy Weekday Meals
Whether you're working from home or in an office, make preparing your lunch a breeze with these simple and delicious recipes.
Whether you've been bringing the same brown bag lunch to work for weeks straight of you've been working from home and have found yourself cooking the same hum-drum meals over and over again, there's a chance your lunch routine has gotten a little stale. It doesn't matter if you're grabbing last night's leftovers or tossing together a quick salad with whatever's left in the fridge, if you're like most people, you may have fallen into something of a lunch rut. Refresh your mid-day meals with these fast and delicious cold lunch ideas, like the Italian Hero Chopped Salad, pictured here—you won't even need to turn on the oven!
If you have pre-cooked chicken breasts on hand, turn them into a spectacular, flavorful chicken salad. The key to making a chicken salad that stands out from the rest is using fresh herbs, such as tarragon and basil, crunchy scallions and celery, and a touch of mayonnaise. You can serve it over crisp romaine or tuck it into a hot dog bun along with cherry tomatoes and bacon strips for a hand-held bite. Another cold lunch recipe that you can make in advance and enjoy throughout the week is our Creamy Ginger-Asparagus Soup, which happens to be vegan and gluten-free. It's the perfect way to make use of spring and summer produce. Plus, it will leave you feeling nourished and energized, so that you can avoid the dreaded afternoon slump.
For kids, take their favorite lunch sandwich—a PB & J—to the next level by using three slices of bread and two layers of filling for an epic triple-decker meal. Switch it up with different types of nut butter—try almond or cashew—and homemade fresh jam made with beautiful summer berries. You'll look forward to the week ahead with these cold lunch ideas in your back pocket.
Chicken-Salad Club Roll
Creamy Ginger-Asparagus Soup
Triple Decker PB & J Tea Sandwiches
When you want to feel like a kid again, make this all-American classic for lunch. We've amped it up a little with three slices of bread and a double layer of peanut butter and jelly. Now that's something to smile about.
Green Salad with Pickled-Shallot Vinaigrette
Nutty pumpernickel bread bookends an entirely vegetarian ingredients—creamy Boursin cheese, sliced cucumber, sliced avocado, pea shoots, shredded red cabbage, and carrots—in this lunch sandwich.
Taco Salad with Sweet-Potatoes
Avoid the post-lunch slump with this hearty, healthy salad that's sure to leave you feeling nourished. Roasted sweet potatoes, which you can make in advance, are layered over lettuce along with the usual taco toppings—black beans, jalapeños, crushed tortilla chips, and lime juice.
Poached Chicken Sandwiches with Peas and Radishes
If you're working from home, enjoy this bright green, open-faced sandwich. Thick slices of rustic bread are topped with a pea, almond, and ricotta spread, plus thinly sliced radishes, fresh mint leaves, and sugar snap peas. Get a taste of spring with every bite.
Orecchiette, Celery, and Olive Salad with Ricotta Salata
Scandinavian Shrimp-and-Cucumber Sandwich
Your work-from-home lunch sandwich does not need to be boring. In fact, this one feels incredibly special. Poached shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers, and Neufchatel cheese top pumpernickel bread for a stunning open-faced meal.
Mexican Seafood Salad
Bibb lettuce is topped with colorful vegetables such as tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and shucked corn, and a duo of shrimp and red snapper, in this family-friend lunch salad that's perfect for serving during summer (or whenever you want a colorful bowl).
Rice Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Feta
Make this recipe in a flash by using pre-cooked brown rice, which is tossed with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, crumbled feta cheese, parsley, and fresh mint. It's a Mediterranean-inspired lunch salad that will leave you feeling nourished and ready to tackle your afternoon to-do list.
Greek Quinoa Salad
Late-Summer Chopped Salad with Cottage Cheese
Tuna-Salad Hand Rolls
Gazpacho Salad with Croutons
Curried Lentil-Salmon Salad
Use pre-cooked lentils in this nutritious salad that comes together in just 30 minutes. We serve the vegetables and salmon over a thick schmear of Greek yogurt, which adds tang and creaminess.
Grilled Skirt-Steak Salad
Cool off with this classic tomato and red pepper soup. Our secret ingredient is 1/3 cup of orange juice, which brightens the base. It's a make-ahead marvel.