10 easy packed lunch ideas for school and work

Kids bento box lunch

Lou Sanz and Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted January 16, 2023

As kids head back to school and adults return to the workplace, jazz up the next packed lunch with these easy, fun, and healthy twists on the standard lunch. 

Whether you're brown-bagging or lunch-boxing it, adults are always on the lookout for easy, affordable, and healthy-packed lunch ideas for both their children and themselves.

That said, making lunches day-in and day-out can feel like a chore. Instead of making the same bland food every day, why not make it a bit of fun by mixing up your recipes with easy ingredients and quick, time and money saving lunches?  

From school yards to corner offices, we've got 10 different lunches that'll keep everyone in the family happy and healthy, with a variety of easy and healthy lunch ideas that can be made quickly for your next midday break.


10 quick and easy packed lunch ideas

Chicken Sandwich

The good old-fashioned sandwich is a great addition to a balanced and nutritious lunch - especially when utilising the amazing variety of bread to suit your needs.  

While you might be tempted to go with a standard vegemite and white bread combo (a favourite for a reason), why not take advantage of the diversity of the lunchbox and make it your own?

Try this recipe for a dazzling chicken sandwich full of protein and veggies to keep you and your loved ones fuller for longer. 

Tip: To make this recipe quicker, add some store-bought chicken or chicken slices. 

Mezze platter

The Mediterranean diet has long been hailed as one of the healthiest in the world and is a great way to fill up on protein, vegetables and grains to keep everyone fuller for longer with a lot of tasty and nutritional value. 

To create your own adult or kid-friendly ‘mezze platter’ or box, make sure everything is bite-sized and easy to grab – it’s finger food, after all! 

This can include: 

  • Sliced cucumber and carrot sticks
  • Dolmades
  • Falafel  
  • Hummus or tzatziki dip
  • Boiled eggs
  • Olives
  • Pita bread
  • Meat balls

Tip: To make it quicker, many of the ingredients above can be bought premade to create a kid-friendly mezze platter.

Vegetable soup and bread

One more for the grownups with access to a microwave, a vegetable soup is a great way to use up old leftovers, can be made in bulk and frozen in portions, making it an easy and healthy option when you are on the go. 

Tip: We recommend adding some of these home-grown herbs to give your soup that extra punch of flavour. 

Bento box

One for those obsessed with Marie Kondo and being organised, the traditional Japanese or mixed bento boxes are known as a ‘convenient’ way to have a little bit of everything. 

Typically, a bento box is a lunchbox divided into portions or small compartments. The key here is variety – whether it is Japanese or western-inspired, a bento box is typically colourful, easy and nutritious. 

Western-style bento may include: 

  • A small wrap or sandwich
  • Some berries or grapes
  • Vegetable sticks
  • Cheese and crackers

A more traditional Japanese-style bento may include: 

  • Sushi
  • Egg noodles
  • Broccoli
  • Sliced fruit
  • Kimchi
  • Dumplings

Tip: There aren’t really any rules with what you put in your bento box, as long as it is something you and your family will enjoy!


Waste not, want not.

Made extra? Full up? Or simply just good planning - portion out your dinner leftovers from meals like curries, rice, casseroles, and this easy sausage roll recipe, and bring them in for lunch the next day. It's also a great way to save money at the checkout counter. 

Tip: Here’s some ideas for how to save money and time by using leftovers for delectable lunches. 


Chicken sandwiches are tasty and filling. Image: Supplied.
Go gourmet with a mezze-inspired platter. Image: Getty.
A vegetable soup is a quick and easy way to pack in the vitamins without sacrificing on taste. Image: Getty.
bento boxes are a great way to get creative make lunch time fun! Image: Getty.
Waste not, want not: Leftovers aren't just for tomorrow's dinner. Image: Getty.


Fritters are a versatile food which combines chosen ingredients and deep fries them into a potato-cake-like shape. An easy variety can include the basics – flour, eggs, salt and oil – and then the chosen fillings, such as corn kernels, zucchini, spring onion, cheese, meats, flavouring – it’s up to you! 

Fritters can be eaten as a main, or a smaller serving as a side dish. 

Tip: Fritters are a great way to get veggies into kids without them realising! 

Poke bowl

Becoming popular in recent years, poke in a Hawaiian dish that typically consists of diced raw fish (such as salmon) combined with a range of grains and vegetables. That said, many spins on the traditional ‘poke bowl’ can include other forms of protein, with the dish being served hot or cold. 

To make your own poke, consider adding:

  • A base, such as rice, soba noodles or greens
  • Your protein, such as salmon, tuna or tofu
  • Your vegetables, including edamame beans, carrot, cucumber, red onion, pickled ginger, radish or beets
  • Something crunchy – think roasted peanuts, fried shallots or hard noodles

Tip: Sauces are essential – think soy sauce, wasabi, aioli or sesame oil for that extra flavour. 

Buddha bowl 

A buddha bowl is similar in theory to a poke bowl, with one key difference: it is vegetarian. It is typically served in a bowl or airtight container, featuring a range of healthy ingredients served cold.

To make your own nutritious buddha bowl, simply add in:

  • Your grain – such as rice, quinoa or barley
  • Your plant protein – chickpeas, tofu, lentils, kidney beans
  • Your vegetables – roasted veggies, zucchini, shallots, avocado, spinach, leafy greens, peas
  • Your add-ins – sprouts, herbs, nuts, seeds
  • Your dressing – pesto, mustard, chilli, lemon

Tip: Buddha bowls can be changed up with whatever ingredients you like, making them a perfect way to use up what’s in the fridge. 

Lettuce wraps

A healthy alternative when you’re looking to get more veggies in, lettuce wraps use lettuce leaves as the traditional ‘bread wrap’ with fillings inside. 

To create, take a leaf from a head of lettuce, and lay down chosen fillings, such as veggies and protein – and carefully wrap in a wheel to create a sandwich without the gluten. These can be wrapped with bakers’ paper to keep them fresh and together. 

Tip: Iceberg, bib and Boston lettuce are the best kinds to use to keep fillings sturdy. 

Pasta salad

A great way to reuse last night’s dinner, a pasta salad is a filling, easy and yummy meal to fill up with at lunch time that can be eaten hot or cold. 

Typically, a pasta salad will use shorter forms of pasta, such as fusilli or penne, with a range of chosen vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, cheese and olives.

Add in a sauce such as pesto, olive oil or a tomato base, and you’ve got an easy dish to feed the whole family! 

Tip: Pasta salad can usually stay fresh in the fridge for up to five days. 


Fritters are a quick and easy recipe that can be eaten hot or cold. Image: Getty.
Poke bowls don't need to be complicated, just fresh and tasty. Image: Getty.
Buddha bowls don't require much cooking and are full of goodness. Image: Getty.
Lettuce wraps can still come full of flavour. Image: Getty.
Pasta salads can easily be made with the veggies in your fridge. Image: Getty.

Sides and snacks

Looking to up your side game? Try some of these delicious and healthy sides to add to any of the above lunches.