No More Girl Lunch

18 Make-Ahead Lunch Ideas So You Don’t Have To Eat Your Kid’s Scraps Again

But you can still do that, too.

I love good leftovers for lunch. Give me all of last night’s lasagna and reheat that casserole buried in the back of the fridge. But when there are no leftovers in sight, or when my kids take all of the sandwich fixings in their school lunches, it’s sometimes hard to come up with something I can eat for lunch. That’s exactly why having a few make-ahead lunch ideas on hand at all times is one of the very best things you can do for yourself. By making a meal or two ahead of time, you can avoid that moment where you walk into the kitchen for lunch, find nothing, and eat a bowl of cereal yet again.

Of course, there’s always the toddler’s scraps, right? They’ll keep you from starving in a pinch, but a half-eaten banana, the ends of a few discarded carrot sticks, and sandwich crusts are not a lunch, you guys. You deserve a satisfying, grown-up lunch. Parenting is hard, so a few bites of frozen fish sticks and a spoonful of mac and cheese just isn’t going to cut it. Instead, take the time to treat yourself to a delicious lunch that you can make ahead of time and serve yourself whenever it’s time to eat.


Fresh spring rolls

These drool-worthy spring rolls from Love and Lemons are not only gorgeous, but they’re super easy to assemble and keep on hand for lunch. They’re stuffed with noodles, tofu, veggies, and herbs, but you can always mix it up with your favorite ingredients. Whip up a creamy peanut sauce to dip them in and you absolutely won’t be disappointed by the results.


Pasta salad

It’s hard to be disappointed with your lunch options when you have a big batch of pasta salad ready to go in your fridge. If you’re looking for a classic recipe to try, this one from Pinch of Yum is a fantastic option filled with fresh veggies, herbs, salami, and mozzarella, all tossed in a zesty homemade dressing.


Chicken bacon ranch pinwheels

The holy grail of finger foods — the humble pinwheel — is a delicious choice for a quick make-ahead lunch. This recipe from Wholefully for chicken bacon ranch pinwheels makes a batch of 18, which is enough to enjoy for several lunches or to share with your kids. They’ll stay good in the fridge for two to three days.


Tomato tortellini soup

Another hearty soup that you can make ahead and have for lunch is this recipe for tomato tortellini soup from Jessica In The Kitchen. It’s made with vegan cheese tortellini and tons of fresh spinach, but you could easily substitute any type of tortellini that you like. Either way, it’s a great lunch choice that won’t leave you hangry in the afternoon.


Taco salad

If you’ve ever searched for make-ahead lunch ideas for your kids, you know there are some delicious options out there. And some of them are perfect for grown up lunch, too — like this taco salad kit recipe from Family Fresh Meals.


Chickpea & egg salad jars

There’s just something about putting a salad in a jar that makes it more appealing. Even if there’s no need for you to transport your lunch anywhere, putting something like this chickpea and egg salad from Half-Baked Harvest in a jar is an easy way to have a lunch-sized portion of fresh, nutritious food ready to go when you need it.


Chicken Caesar wraps

To enjoy these chicken Caesar wraps from Wholefully for lunch, you can make things as easy or as complicated as you’d like, especially since you’re going to assemble them ahead of time anyway. Want to roast an entire chicken and then make homemade Caesar dressing? Go for it. Do you have some leftover rotisserie chicken from the store and a bottle of Caesar dressing in your fridge? That works, too! Either way, with this idea, you’ll have a fresh and tasty wrap ready and waiting when you get hungry.


Jerk chicken sandwiches

If you’ve never made jerk chicken before, this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen is a great one to start with — it’s a little smoky, a little spicy, and full of flavor. Plus, the shredded chicken keeps well for a few days to make sandwiches as you need them. Make the chicken, then the slaw, and keep them both in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. When it’s time for lunch, microwave your chicken and throw everything on a fresh bun for a quick and tasty lunch.


Kimchi tuna salad wrap

Tuna sandwiches are always in heavy rotation in my kitchen, so this recipe for kimchi tuna salad wraps from Pinch of Yum is right up my alley. It comes together easily with just tuna, kimchi, and kewpie mayo. Then, you can throw it in a wrap with chopped avocado, cucumbers, and chili sauce for a quick and satisfying lunch that’s loaded with flavor.


Ham & potato soup

Budget Bytes calls this recipe for ham and potato soup “creamy but not too heavy,” which is exactly what you want in a lunch soup. Hearty potatoes, chunks of ham, and plentiful veggies will fill you up to fuel the rest of your day. This would be great to make ahead on a chilly, slow weekend day to enjoy all week long.


Lemony broccoli pesto pasta

The flavors in this lemony broccoli pesto pasta salad from Gimme Some Oven makes it a refreshing choice to serve chilled straight from the fridge. However, if you make it ahead of time and prefer enjoying it warm, you can always pop it in your microwave for lunch.


Mini pot pies

Using just a few staple ingredients, you can have these mini pot pies from Averie Cooks prepped and ready to reheat for lunch. Canned biscuits, cream-based soup, frozen veggies, and diced chicken come together in muffin tins to make the cutest and easiest little pot pies you’ve ever had.


Caprese lunch boxes

Again, lunchbox ideas aren’t just for kids. From Fresh Family Meals, this caprese lunch box has a solid assortment of tasty morsels that you can grab from your fridge and enjoy immediately. Fresh mozzarella slices, juicy tomatoes, and fresh basil are covered with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, accompanied by pretzel crisps, fresh fruit, and some pistachios to round out the meal.


Sesame soba noodles

Since you can enjoy soba noodles hot or cold, this recipe from Foodie Crush is a perfect make-ahead lunch. The noodles you use for this are made from buckwheat — soba is actually the Japanese word for buckwheat. They have a unique flavor that’s a bit earthy and pairs deliciously with fresh green onion and a sauce made from sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and toasted sesame seeds.


Chicken quinoa bowls

The same concept of food prepping works super well for lunches — especially when you have a handy bowl-style recipe like this one from Wholefully. Simply layer cooked quinoa, diced chicken, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and some fresh basil in a food storage container. When you’re ready for lunch, drizzle with dressing, give it a good shake, and grab a fork.


Cheesy broccoli chicken & rice bowls

Another easy meal prep bowl idea to make ahead for lunch is this one from Gimme Some Oven. It’s actually super easy to make, too. You just take cooked chicken, broccoli, and cheese sauce (instructions are in the recipe), cook it all together in a pan, and portion it out into containers with cooked rice. Simply heat the dish up, and lunch time is handled.


Veggie hummus wraps

If you’re looking for a vegan or vegetarian make-ahead lunch idea, look no further than these veggie hummus wraps from A Spicy Perspective. Bell peppers, cucumbers, black olives, avocado, sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, and creamy hummus all wrapped inside of a fresh tortilla? It’s hard to beat that. You can also try variations with different veggies to switch things up. Spinach, shredded carrots, romaine, pickled beets, and basically anything else your heart desires would all make fantastic additions to this grab-and-go lunch.


Italian Sub Roll Ups

These Italian sub roll ups from Family Fresh Meals basically use the exact same ingredients you would put in a huge party sub — salami, banana peppers, olives, the usual — but inside of a wrap. Slice it up and add to a container with fresh fruit to enjoy a tasty lunch on the go, or just keep a handful of the pinwheels in your fridge for easy access when you need a quick bite.

Are you ready to enjoy lunch again? With these make-ahead lunch ideas, you’ll have plenty of tasty stuff on hand so that you only have to eat your kid’s sandwich crusts for if you want them, not out of necessity.