16 Back-to-School Recipes for the Weirdness of 2020

Listen, it’s going to be a pretty strange autumn for all of us and navigating lunch time will be no exception. Thanks to some reader requests, we put together a versatile list of lunch recipes that don’t require time in a shared space to heat up and also little to no hand-to-food contact (seems strange, but worth thinking about!). Keeping things delicious and safe...and did we mention delicious?

Corn, Avocado, and Quinoa Salad with Marinated Tomatoes

Already a bright, nutty, summer special with fresh sweet corn, buttery avocado, salty cotija and fresh herbs. But we’ve gotta tell ya, those marinated tomatoes on top? WOWOWOW. What a star.

quinoa, corn, marinated tomatoes, avocados

Curry Chicken Salad on everything bagel.

Goddess Curry Chicken Salad

Hey, we’re not telling you what to pack for lunch except YES WE ARE PLEASE PACK THIS CLEAN PERFECT CRISP MAYO-FREE CURRY CHICKEN SALAD. The chicken is beautiful, the texture is dreamy, the crunch is just what everyone needs.

chicken, curry powder, golden raisins, pistachios, honey, Greek yogurt

Winter Grain Bowl with Balsamic Dressing

Love a super versatile colorful bowl that feels salady and wintery all at once, is super easy to meal prep, nutrition packed and totally delicious hot or cold? Great, yes, us too.

beets, sweet potatoes, wild rice, kale, pistachios, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar

Chipotle Tahini Bowls

A super versatile clean-your-fridge-out bowl option, BUT if we can convince you to include toasty-crisp sweet potatoes, kale, avocado and a perfect soft-boiled egg, you would not be mad! Just make sure it’s all swirling in that vegan chipotle tahini sauce.

sweet potatoes, kale, tahini, chipotles in adobo sauce, avocado, eggs

Lentil Greek Salad with Dill Sauce

With its bright cherry tomatoes, fresh cukes and velvety black lentils, it’s the real belle of the lunch ball. And we haven’t even mentioned that homemade fresh dill yogurt sauce yet.

lentils, tuna, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, Greek yogurt, fresh dill

Detox Rainbow Roll Ups cut in serving platter.

Detox Rainbow Roll-Ups with Peanut Sauce

This nutritional powerhouse is packed with carrots, curry hummus, red cabbage and dark leafy greens for color, crunch and general yumminess. And then, you know, dip it in some amazing peanut sauce because dreams *can* come true.

carrots, cucumbers, red cabbage, curry hummus, collard greens, peanut butter, soy sauce

Spring Roll Bowl with a fork.

Spring Roll Bowls with Sweet Garlic Lime Sauce

We’ve made fresh spring rolls in fork and bowl form! Pile those noodles sky high with fresh veg, a protein if you like and then soak them in sweet lime garlic dreamsauce and an aggressive amount of herbs.

rice noodles, basil, mint, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, fish sauce, avocado, lime

Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl.

Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls
with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Bright, fresh, acidic and salty — solid dating profile but even better bowl! Kalamatas, feta, cucumber and red onion, along with spinach or kale and a pitch perfect roasted red pepper sauce.

quinoa, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, feta cheese, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, red onion

Sesame Noodle Bowls

Sauce made with a simple jar-shake? Noodles done in 2 minutes?! Could end meal prep there but brown up some chicken and send in the veg parade and you’ll be doing a little pre-lunch cheer every day this week. Delicious cold so no microwave needed.

stir fry noodles, chicken, edamame, cucumbers, sesame paste, soy sauce

Lemon Herb Pasta Salad with Marinated Chickpeas

Delicious doesn’t have to be complicated. Perfectly squishy pasta coated in a silky olive oil/lemon juice blend tossed up with some marinated chickpeas full of garlic and herbs. Minimal effort, maximum taste.

pasta, lemon, chickpeas, fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese

The LA chop salad in a bowl.

The La Chop

Ready your chopping spirit, whip up a quick lemon vinaigrette and then come lunch, you can just crunch away on this colorful, fresh, punchy, healthy-but-not-too-healthy (👈life motto), actual full-meal salad.

lettuce, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, salami, pepperoncini, red onion, chickpeas

Quinoa Sweet Potato Salad

Back to school still means fall and this is fall in a bowl. Roasted sweet potatoes, caramelizy onions, toasty maple walnuts and crisped chickpeas, fragrant with fresh rosemary. Feels warm, still great cold.

quinoa, sweet potatoes, shallots, walnuts, chickpeas

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

She’s a textural dream, full of surprising zippy punchy flavors (thank you papaya or under-ripe mangoes!) and tossed with just about the best peanut dressing you ever did chomp.

chicken, cabbage, carrots, serrano peppers, peanut butter, chili paste, soy sauce

Avocado shrimp salad in a bowl.

Super Quick Avocado Shrimp Salad

Hard not to love a super easy fast, throw it all in one bowl, fresh healthy delicious lunch situation. Especially when it involves chilled poached shrimp, creamy avocado, fresh dill, and a nice big lemon drench. HEART EYES.

shrimp, avocado, lemon, fresh dill, cucumber

Soba Noodle Salad on plate with fork.

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

Sure, yes, a salad…but it’s noodle-based so no need to get sad! This ol’girl has got you – spicy, saucy, peanutty and most important, noodle-y! Perfect no heat-up lunch.

soba noodles, chicken, purple cabbage, red bell pepper, peanut butter

Quinoa Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing

There’s crunch, there’s sweet, there’s spice, there’s creamy peanut dressing and chili-lime cashews (whaaat?! Thank you tiny treasures!). Get this bright rainbow boost in your lunch rotation, asap.

edamame, quinoa, cucumber, bell peppers, mangoes, carrots, purple cabbage, cashews, peanut butter, chili paste

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  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made the chicken tinga bowls and it made six separate lunch portions to have ready for my husband and I this week. We are working and teaching virtual school. They were for a sure a bright spot on the day! Thanks!!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been back at work for weeks, and am avoiding the shared kitchen space. So no refrigerator, no microwave. I have a good lunchbox and ice packs so I can keep things cold, but it’s surprisingly tricky to figure out what would be good for lunch with no reheating.

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Cool selection of recipes. I really liked the presentation of the dishes. Who came up with such a name? This is very original. I have always associated autumn with school, you probably have the same associations. By the way, I noticed that all the dishes are very nicely described. Was this written by a professional? By the way, I often use writing services for my blog. I found a good service on the site WritingJudge Perhaps you will need it.

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Raizel Goldhirsch

    wow! these lunch ideas look yum and ive already printed out a few! i was looking for more ideas for easy take-along lunches and you gave me the perfect ones!!!!!!! thx!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    wow! these lunch ideas look yum and ive already printed out a few! i was looking for more ideas for easy take-along lunches and you gave me the perfect ones!!!!!!! thx!