Longing for something a little more satisfying than your standard garden salad? Or maybe you’re trying to save money by steering clear of the office food court and packing your own midday meal.
While BYOing lunch is a worthy goal, it can be stressful to think up and prep a meal as you're scrambling to get out the door. So we teamed up with Sara Lee to bring you two week’s worth of inspiring meals that can be made and wrapped up the night before. Pick your favorites from the choices below, or add them all to your rotation and you’re done.
Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich
Whip up this cold salad in a flash by boiling chicken, then using your stand mixer to shred it. Next, add mashed avocado with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a few red pepper flakes for a light kick. Spread a heavy hand between two slices of Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread.
Pasta salad is a great make-ahead meal because it’s easy to throw together a large quantity and it holds up for four to five days in the fridge. Put a twist on the typical by going for a Mediterranean-inspired version. Toss pasta with sundried tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, chickpeas, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
This cold, bowl-based meal with five key components—whole grains, veggies, protein, garnish, and dressing—is highly customizable. Opt for something bright and refreshing like quinoa with radishes, cucumbers, tofu, chia seeds, and a dijon vinaigrette, or go for something a little more hearty—think sweet potatoes, spinach, shredded chicken, sesame seeds, and a carrot ginger dressing.
Deconstructed Italian Sandwich
Want to make your lunch instantly more enjoyable? Put your sandwich on a stick. Simply thread each component—cubes of Sara Lee White made with Whole Grain Bread, folded slices of salami, folded slices of turkey, a cube of provolone cheese, and a sliced gherkin—onto a wooden skewer.
Hummus and Veggie Sandwich
For a sandwich with a hefty dose of crunch, spread a layer of garlic hummus onto sliced bread, then top it with thinly sliced cucumber, lettuce, red onion, tomato, spinach, and sprouts. For a little more staying power, you can even add sliced avocado with some lemon juice to help with oxidation or a hard-boiled egg.
Give the basic bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich a small, but ultra-satisfying glow up by adding thick slices of avocado and a dash or two of your favorite hot sauce. Use Sara Lee's Butter Bread which already has a—you guessed it—buttery taste that'll add a slight complexity to the classic.
Peanut Butter Crunch
For a hint of sweetness that’ll see you through the midday slump, try a protein-packed sandwich made with Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread which is made with real golden honey. Then, layer on crunchy peanut butter, bananas, chia seeds, and a drizzle of honey.
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Rollups
Though you can use a tortilla, rolled out bread has a nicer texture. Use a rolling pin, roll a slice of bread to about ¼ of an inch. Then, layer cream cheese, smoked salmon, and a sprinkling of chives. Roll the whole thing up into a log then cut into bite-sized 1-inch pieces.
Spinach and Strawberry Mason Jar Salad
Who can resist this sweet salad? To keep things from wilting before you get a chance to eat, layer your ingredients in a mason jar. Put your poppyseed dressing in first, then add slivered almonds, feta, blueberries, strawberries, and baby spinach in that order. Come lunch time, simply shake the whole thing up, then dig in, or plate it if you're feeling fancy.
Leveled-up Grilled Cheese
Melted cheese is undoubtedly delicious on its own, but when it comes to upgrading your basic grilled cheese, there are no shortage of options. A favorite: a caprese grilled cheese. Simply swipe a bit of pesto onto your bread, then top it with prosciutto, shredded mozzarella cheese, and tomato. Add a second piece of bread to the top, and pan fry in a touch of butter. You can pack it warm and nuke it at work, or eat it at room temp.
Brigitt is a freelance writer, editor and craft stylist with nearly 15 years of experience at premier lifestyle publications. She specializes in creating SEO and affiliate content in a wide range of coverage areas, including home, health, parenting, beauty and style, food and entertaining, travel, and weddings. She also has significant experience creating native and branded content.