Beyond the Sandwich: Bread-Free Brown Bag Lunches

Homemade take-to-work meals to relish at lunchtime.
Lunch box

Nationwide, brown-bagging it at the office is on the rise. So we asked some employees to tell us what their go-to, take-to-work lunch would be if — and here’s the catch — 1) it contained no bread (cause everyone knows how to make PB&J!) and 2) they were only allowed to use one container.

Here are their responses, each paired with a delicious recipe from our site. Tote them in a high-tech cooler bag with an ice pack to eat chilled, or to keep fresh until you’re ready to microwave it at the office.

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs
Rebecca Turner (editor and writer): "Whole-wheat pasta with peas and turkey meatballs. Pack extra sauce on the side so it doesn’t get dry in the microwave."

We suggest: Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs. Just toss in some peas.

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Skillet Cassoulet
Elly Trickett McNerney (managing editor): "Sautéed chorizo with butter beans, tomatoes, shallots, parsley, vinegar and oil. I either eat it cold as a salad, or warm it up for something more like a stew."

We suggest: 15-Minute Skillet Cassoulet. It has low-fat sausage, beans, tomato sauce, onions and dried herbs – very similar to what Elly already makes but faster.

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Chinese Chicken with Pineapple and Black Bean Sauce
Leslie Fink (recipe editor and nutritionist): "Leftover homemade Chinese food. It’s cheaper and so much healthier than grabbing take-out."

We suggest: Chinese Chicken with Black Bean Sauce. Chicken with Broccoli and Garlic Sauce is popular, too.

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Penne with Chicken Sausage and Peppers
Lisa Chernick (executive food editor): "Whole wheat pasta with roasted or grilled chicken and vegetables."

We suggest: Penne with Chicken Sausage and Peppers. Swap chunks of grilled chicken for the sausage if you prefer.

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Cobb Salad
Aransas Savas (manager, program development): "Upside-down salads. Put the wet toppings on the bottom – like cut tomatoes and cucumbers – and the lettuce on top. Flip just before eating to keep the lettuce from wilting."

We suggest: Cobb Salad. Put the tomatoes on the bottom of the container and store a bottle of dressing in your office fridge.

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Quinoa with Spinach
Theresa DiMasi (VP, content): "A grain like pasta, millet or rice with greens. Sometimes I throw in some tofu, chicken, beans or salmon."

We suggest: Quinoa and Spinach. Quinoa, a rich source of protein, is not actually a grain but can be swapped for rice in many recipes.

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Slow Cooker Beans and Rice
Sabrina LeBlanc (VP, innovation): "Rice with beans straight from the can topped with salsa and cheese. Occasionally I get fancy and add other things like veggies or shrimp – all depends on time."

We suggest: Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice. Cook a batch on Sunday and store in lunch-size portions for no-fuss meals during the week.

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