3 Easy and Healthy Brown Bag Lunches for Summer

This is for all of you who want to make the middle of the workday something to look forward to... without having to meal-prep for hours.
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Chiara - Vassar College
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This is for all of you who want to make the middle of the workday something to look forward to... without having to meal-prep for hours.

As we get older, the reality that summer can't always be fun and games becomes all too prevalent. With summer jobs and internships, it can almost feel like summer is just an extension of the school year, full of responsibilities and deadlines. Having to pack a lunch is probably the last thing you want to think about, let alone do.

That's why I've come up with three easy and delicious lunches you can pack for your workday without too much hassle. Added bonus: You'll be looking forward to these meals so much, you won't be able to wait for the clock to hit lunchtime!

Quinoa and Black Bean "Burrito Bowl"

Quinoa and Black Bean Burrito Bowl

A salad that doesn't involve leaves.

Chipotle burrito bowls are pretty delicious, but they can slowly chip away at that hard-earned money of yours. Here's a healthy and cost-efficient way to make one at home. 

What You'll Need:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (or brown rice if that's more your style)
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped into tiny pieces
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • A few dashes of cumin
  • A pinch of salt

How to Make It:

First, you'll need to cook your quinoa (or brown rice). Place the quinoa and one cup of water in a small saucepan. Allow the quinoa to come to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, all of the water should be gone.

Let the quinoa cool for a bit, then place it in your lunch container. Add the black beans and cilantro. Pour the olive oil and lime juice over everything and sprinkle cumin and salt on top. Mix everything up with a spoon, making sure all of the quinoa is covered in the dressing. Lastly, cut the avocado into tiny pieces and gently place it on top of everything. And there you have it: the remade burrito bowl!

Hummus, Avocado, and Pumpkin Seed Tartine

Hummus, Avocado, and Pumpkin Seed Tartine

Chic, sophisticated, and delicious.

Next up, we have a bit of an updated sandwich for you. Throw that PB&J aside and get ready to fall in love with tartines. A French favorite, the tartine is an open-faced sandwich that provides us with endless possibilities. 

What You'll Need:

  • 1 slice of bread (toasted, if you like)
  • 2 tbsp. hummus
  • A few spinach leaves
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half 
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds

How to Make It:

I love making this because it takes me no more than 5 minutes to assemble all of these ingredients into a delicious lunch. Spread the hummus onto your bread, then top it with spinach leaves. Add the avocado on top of that layer along with the cherry tomatoes. Finally, sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds to add a bit of crunch to your tartine. Voilà, lunch is ready!

Mozzarella, Watermelon, and Roasted Almond Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Mozzarella, Watermelon, and Roasted Almond Salad with Balsamic Dressing

The perfect combination of flavors.

Not to play favorites here, but I could honestly eat this salad every day. It's the perfect summer lunch, and it's so delicious that it will give you something to look forward to during your busy day. 

What You'll Need:

  • 1-1 1/2 cup salad leaves (I chose spinach, but use whatever you like)
  • 3/4 cup ciliegine (small mozzarella balls), sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup watermelon cubes, sliced into quarters
  • 10 dry roasted almonds (*dry roasting really enhances the almonds' flavor; buy ones that are already roasted to save time), sliced in half
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • A pinch of salt

How to Make It:

Place the salad leaves in your lunch container. Add the mozzarella, watermelon, and almonds. Pour the olive oil, vinegar, and salt into a tiny salad dressing container and give it a little shake.

When you're ready to eat it, mix up the dressing, pour it on top of your salad, close the salad container, and give the whole thing a big shake. After about 30 seconds, the dressing should be evenly distributed, and you'll be ready to dig in!

Ready to Try?

I hope these three lunch ideas inspire you to add a little extra oomph to your midday meal without taking up too much of your free time. If you're looking for a fancy lunchbox at a not-so-fancy price, check this one out. You can mix and match what you put in, and it saves room on the side for fruit, veggies, tortilla chips, crackers, or a sweet treat (dark chocolate, anyone?).

After you try out these recipes, let me know what you think in the comments. I'd love to hear about any personal twists you make to them, too!