Sometimes, trying to think up and new exciting lunches to bring to work everyday can be a little bit trying…so you end up either resigning yourself to purchasing food, which adds up quickly,  or else you settle for eating the same old, boring sandwiches. But homemade lunches don’t have to be a bore, there are tons of easy to make, healthy options that will ensure you are counting down the minutes till noon hour!

Salad In A Jar
Grab a mason jar and layer it up for a great, yummy salad that won’t get soggy before lunchtime. The best part (beside the non soggy bit), is that you can make a weeks worth of salads ahead of time because they last for several days in the fridge. Just bring a bowl with you to work, dump out the jar, and you’ll be all set.
Layer 1: dressing
Layer 2: carrots, cucumbers, tomato, broccoli…basically any veggie you want
Layer 3: seeds, cheese, nuts
Layer 4: any meat, quinoa, etc
Layer 5: salad greens
This can be changed up in a ton of different ways…maybe one day you want a Mexican themed salad. There are a ton of possibilities!

Bean, Corn and Tortilla Salad
From marthastewart.com
Prep:
25mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients
1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans
drained and rinsed 1 package frozen corn kernels (2 cups)
¼ cup prepared tomato salsa
1 bunch scallions
thinly sliced (1 cup) 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
3 plum tomatoes
thickly sliced Coarse salt
ground pepper
1 bag romaine hearts, cut into bite sized pieces
3 cups broken, baked tortilla chips
¾ cup coarsely grated pepper jack cheese

Step 1
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine beans, corn, and salsa. Microwave just until warmed through, 1 minute. Stir in scallions, avocado, and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Set bean mixture aside.

Step 2
In a large bowl, toss lettuce and chips together. Divide evenly among plates; top with bean mixture and cheese. Serve immediately, topped with additional salsa, if desired.

[box type=”shadow” align=”alignright” ]BENTO BOX
This way of serving food originated in Japan, has been around since the 16th century, and it is perfect for packing a well balanced lunch. Containers are divided up into different sections, so foods don’t mix and portion control is built right in. There are tons of recipes available online and even blogs dedicated specifically to bento box recipes. Check out: justbento.com, aibento.net[/box]

Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wrap
Recipe taken from EatingWell.com

Ingredients
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp finely chopped canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce (see Note)
¼ tsp salt
2 cup shredded red cabbage
1 medium carrot, shredded
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 can 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1 ripe avocado
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp minced red onion
4 8- to 10-inch whole-wheat wraps or tortillas

Directions
1. Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle chile and salt in a medium bowl. Add cabbage, carrot and cilantro; toss to combine.
2. Mash beans and avocado in another medium bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in cheese and onion.
3. To assemble the wraps, spread about 1/2 cup of the bean-avocado mixture onto a wrap (or tortilla) and top with about 2/3 cup of the cabbage-carrot slaw. Roll up. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut the wraps in half to serve, if desired.
Ingredient Note: Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce are smoked jalapeños packed in a flavorful sauce. Look for the small cans with the Mexican foods in large supermarkets. Once opened, they’ll keep at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.

Peanut Tofu Wrap
Recipe taken from EatingWell.com

Ingredients
1 Tbsp store-bought Thai peanut sauce
1 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortilla
2 oz thinly-sliced, seasoned, baked tofu
¼ cup sliced red bell pepper
8 thinly sliced snow peas

Directions
Spread peanut sauce on the tortilla. Place tofu, peppers and snow peas in the center; fold the sides over the filling and roll up.

[box type=”shadow” align=”alignright” ]SOUP
Soups are a great thing to bring for lunch: invest in a good thermos, and you’ll have hot soup all ready for you come lunchtime. One big pot of soup on the weekend could net you enough soup for the entire week![/box]
Vegetable Lover’s Chicken Soup
Recipe from EatingWell.com
Makes: 2 servings, 2 cups each
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces chicken tenders, cut into bite-size chunks
1 small zucchini, finely diced
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons orzo, or other tiny pasta, such as farfelline
1 1/2 cups packed baby spinach

Preparation
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add zucchini, shallot, Italian seasoning and salt and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, wine and orzo (or other tiny pasta); increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the pasta is tender, about 8 minutes, or according to package directions. Stir in spinach, the cooked chicken and any accumulated juices from the chicken; cook, stirring, until the chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes.

Tips & Notes
•Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe from Kraft.com
Creamy, delicious, from-scratch butternut squash soup is just an hour away—and it’s so easy, even a beginner cook could make it.
prep:15 min
total:55 min
servings: makes 7 servings, 1 cup each.

Ingredients
3 Tbsp.  olive oil
1 cup   chopped onion
2 cloves  garlic, minced
2-1/2 lb.  butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cans   (14-1/2 oz. each) chicken broth
½ cup  sour Cream
8 slices  bacon, cooked, crumbled

Make It
HEAT oil in large heavy saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 4 min. or until tender.
ADD squash and broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 40 min.
POUR soup, in batches, into blender container; cover. Blend until smooth. Ladle soup into 7 individual bowls. Top each serving with sour cream and crumbled bacon. Serve with RITZ Crackers, if desired.