Back to school season is here again, which means you might find yourself packing more lunches. Here are three easy lunch recipes that your whole family will love. These meals are easy to prepare in big batches and travel well.

These recipes for Roasted Vegetable Pesto Pasta Salad, Cranberry Chicken Salad, and Turkey Chili can all be prepared in large quantities and hold up well for several days. Preparing big batches and packing up several lunches at a time is a great way to save time throughout the week.

Easy Packable Lunches

Roasted Vegetable Pesto Pasta Salad

Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 1 lb rotini
  • 1 cup of store-bought pesto
  • 2 zucchinis 
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 cup pearl-sized mozzarella (or diced mozzarella)
  • 1 cup tomatoes (I used both red and yellow)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • You can also substitute Italian dressing for the pesto.
  • Want to boost the amount of protein? Add diced chicken.
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions, until al dente. Then drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta cooks, slice the zucchini and squash into half circles 1/8 inch thick. Then heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the sliced zucchini, squash, salt, and pepper and toss together. Cook until the zucchini and squash are lightly browned; this will take about 6-8 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Make sure that the pasta has cooled enough so that it won't melt the cheese.
  4. Divide into containers for lunch and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

Easy Packable Lunches

Cranberry Chicken Salad

Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 2 cups diced roast chicken (from a store bought rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup canned cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup grapes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • Bread or lettuce for serving
  1. Stir the mayonnaise and cranberry sauce together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add all the other ingredients. Stir until the cranberry mayonnaise is evenly distributed.
  3. Either spread between two slices of bread to make a sandwich, or spoon over chopped lettuce. Pack individual servings into containers and refrigerate.

Easy Packable Lunches

Turkey Chili

Active preparation time: 10 minutes
Total time: 6 hours
Servings: 6

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 (16 oz) jars of salsa
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of black beans
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of kidney beans
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
Topping suggestions:
  • Shredded Mexican Cheese
  • Low Fat Sour Cream

  1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker, stir together, and turn the heat on to low.
  2. Cook for 5-6 hours, then divide into containers for lunch and refrigerate. Pack toppings, such as cheese and sour cream, in a separate smaller container.
  3. At lunchtime heat the chili in a microwave and then add the toppings.

Kitt Graham

Kit Graham spends her time cooking up new creations in her kitchen and exploring Chicago’s ever-evolving culinary scene. She began blogging in 2011 when her friends gifted her a blog as a way to get her to share her recipes. In 2013, Kit wrote her first cookbook, The Gourmet Grilled Cheese Cookbook, which is an ode to her favorite meal from childhood. Kit was raised in Kennebunk, Maine, went to college in Massachusetts, and lived in New York City before settling in the Windy City. For more, head over to where Kit shares original and practical recipes and Chicago restaurant reviews.

Kit is part of The Opener, an exclusive, invite-only contributor network that will bring the best food, culture, and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey.