We wish we could eat ice cream and lobster rolls on the boardwalk every day throughout the summer, but for the most part, we’re stuck behind a computer doing the same stuff we do for the rest of the year. And when we do go on vacation, we find ourselves over-indulging and over spending . Give your taste buds and your wallet a break from the overload with some weekday lunches you’ll actually be excited to dig into.
Peanut Soba Noodles with Vegetable Salad (pictured above)
No microwave necessary to dig into this cold noodle salad. Protein-packed peanut butter and soba noodles mean this vegetarian lunch will keep you full through the 3 p.m. slump.
Vegetarian Pan Bagnat
This sandwich is stuffed full of veggies and actually gets better the longer it sits – perfect for surviving long summer commutes.
Ranch Chicken Salad Cups
Not saying we don’t trust the mayo-drenched chicken salad at the deli around the corner, but this version clocks in under 500 calories per serving and is definitely tastier thanks to a dip in some homemade ranch dressing. Pro tip: store the chicken salad and the lettuce leaves in separate containers and then build the wraps when you’re ready to eat.
Honey-Chipotle Chicken Pasta Salad
Dreaming of the next backyard barbecue? Don’t wait for the weekend! This cookout staple side is turned into a full meal with the addition of some shredded rotisserie chicken.
Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Wrap
This veggie-packed wrap is the ultimate lunch for when you come back from vacation to a bare kitchen, but want to prep for the week. Use up any vegetables you have on hand and add hummus for a healthy vegetarian meal that will help you get back on track .
Chunky Egg Salad
This lightened-up egg salad looks (and tastes) nothing like the mushy lunchtime staple of your youth. A bit of mayo brings in the nostalgic flavor you want, but lemon juice, whole-grain mustard and fresh dill do the heavy lifting on flavor.
Eating healthy can get expensive when you’re buying lunch every day. This salad is inspired by a popular item at a healthy food chain, but will save you money by making it yourself. To avoid the dreaded soggy salad syndrome, pack the vinaigrette in a separate container and dress the salad when you’re ready to eat.
Summer Vegetable Chili
If your office is as cold as ours, you’ll understand the beauty of a warm lunch. Add fresh summer vegetables like corn to the mix to remind you that it’s still warm outside, even if it’s freezing indoors.
Shrimp and Avocado Salad
Shrimp isn’t the obvious choice for a portable lunch, but grilled ahead of time it makes for a protein-rich no-heat meal. Avocado turns brown as it is exposed to air; slow the process by tossing the pieces in a lime juice when you pack your lunch.
Tomato-Cauliflower Curry with Corn
Fresh summer corn and tomatoes shine in this better-than-takeout vegetarian curry. A dip of tomato-yogurt sauce cools you down with each spicy bite.