Lunchtime Delights: 17 Creative Dishes To Take Your Lunch From Drab to Fab

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Only some workplaces have readily available food options nearby or onsite. Even then, the expense of buying your lunch every day can add up, so it's easier to bring it, but you may need help with new and exciting lunch ideas — after all, how many times do you want the same sandwich or wrap? 

1. Caprese

Dish of mozarella, tomato, and basil
Image Credit: spiralmushroom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Not quite a salad, not quite a cheese plate. Caprese is a very light Italian dish comprising of sliced fresh mozzarella accompanied by slices of tomato and leaves of sweet basil. Seasoned with salt and olive oil, the dish can be elevated with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

2. Elevated Egg Salad

Egg salad on a doily with scallions
Image Credit: Mushki Brichta, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Egg salad isn’t all that creative. Unless, of course, you get creative with it. Along with the staples of mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and egg, add in some caviar or a bit of tzatziki to enhance the flavor. Make elevated egg salad for lunch once, and you’ll never go back to the boring old recipe.

3. Zucchini Loaf

Zucchini Slice
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

This food is also known as a zucchini slice in Australia. It's a bit like a frittata but a little more dense. This dish contains zucchini, cheese, eggs, and bacon, and once cooked, it makes a great lunch box addition because it tastes good at any temperature.

4. Curries

Curry Rice
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Curry and rice always taste great the next day — sometimes even better since the proteins have had extra time to absorb the spices. Make extra at dinner time or cook a batch on your day off. Heat it and store it in an insulated container or thermos. 

5. Charcuterie Board 

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Charcuterie sounds super fancy, and it makes you feel like you've got your own personal finger-food party going on at lunchtime. Grab some cold rotisserie chicken and or ham, crackers, cheese, olives, red peppers, nuts, cucumber, and carrot. For a bite of something sweeter, bring some grapes or dried apricots, and make sure you pack it in something like a bento box with an insulated bag to keep it cool. 

6. Crunchy Veg and Hummus

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

You can make a good hummus, or there are plenty of delicious brands in the refrigerated section at your local grocery store. Cut things like carrots, celery, bell pepper, and cucumber into sticks and dip them into your hummus of choice. You can also grab some pita crackers! 

7. Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Cooked chicken lasts in the fridge for three to four days. Whether you prepare it in advance or buy a premade rotisserie from your grocer, chicken is a fantastic addition to so many lunch ideas. You can toss it on a salad or mix it with grains like quinoa.

8. Onigiri

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

This sushi rice dish is for those who love sushi but aren't prepared to learn how to roll it. You can use meat, tuna, or veggies as the filling and use rice or seaweed to scoop it all up. 

9. Frittata

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Frittata is another egg dish that's great served hot or cold. It can be prepared earlier and made with various vegetables like broccoli, peppers, carrots, and just about anything else. 

10. Tabbouleh

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Chop up some veggies — especially tomato and cucumber — then add some onion, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, and mint. Mix it all up in the fridge and let it sit. Add rice and other toppings throughout the week to freshen the flavor of this Levantine dish. 

11. Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

If stored correctly, pasta salad can last up to seven days, so pre-making this dish and taking some to work with you each day is a great time saver.

12. Empanadas

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Empanadas won't unwrap or get soggy and can be prepped days in advance to save you time and money! You can even freeze them. Choose your favorite meat (or meatless) filling and, for a simplified version, cut sections of a pre-made pie dough.

13. Tuna Snack Kits

Tuna Lunch Kits
Image Credit: Starkist Tuna.

These aren't as expensive as buying your lunch out, and it's a meal already prepared for you and waiting at the local grocery store. Usually consisting of flavored tuna and crackers, you can take some cheese, salad, and fruit to make it a complete meal.

14. Salmon Patties

Salmon Patties
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

These are great for dinner, especially if you've got a tin of salmon in the pantry and some leftover mashed potatoes. They also make a great lunch option the next day. 

15. Warm Leftovers in a Self Heating Lunchbox

Self Heating Lunchbox
Image Credit: Crock-Pot.

Any meal that needs to be reheated can be kept in these. The price ranges between $20 to $40 for each insulated electric lunch box, which plugs into your car or an electrical socket. Most come as a kit with a compartmentalized box, a carry bag, and two power chords. 

16. Savory Muffins

Savory Muffins
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

A standard muffin recipe makes 12 muffins that you can freeze. Just pop one in your lunch box when needed. So many options are available with these, but a personal favorite is feta cheese, spinach, and sun-dried tomato. Add some cream cheese when you're ready to eat. They're delicious!

17. Salads

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

There are so many different types of salad out there. Unfortunately, many people imagine a lot of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. In reality, entire recipe books and websites are devoted to various salads. The trick is to keep the dressing separate until you're ready to eat it. 

Author: Ree Winter

Title: Journalist

Expertise: travel, food, history


  • Expertise: Travel, History, Food
  • Education: Monash University, Australia
  • Over 400 articles published in newspapers, magazines, and across the web

Ree Winter is a versatile journalist hailing from Australia and now making New Orleans her home. Ree's passion for solo travel shines through as she expertly tracks down fantastic flight deals and accommodations, sharing her extensive travel experiences with readers. With a Master's degree in Journalism and a Bachelor's degree featuring double majors in history and literature, she brings a unique blend of skills to her work. Ree's historical expertise extends to the world of architectural history, where she has worked as a tour guide in historic house museums. But her journey doesn't stop there; she's even delved into the art of coffee as a barista, running a coffee van at events and markets, making her a genuine connoisseur of coffee preparation. Today, Ree channels her insights and expertise into sharing these topics with readers at Wealth of Geeks.