How many times have you vowed to pack lunch more often, but ended up falling off the wagon and going back to Chipotle/pizza/insert-fast-food-of-choice after the first three days? We get it. Between planning breakfasts in advance and meal-prepping dinners for the week, thinking about a home-cooked lunch can seem like added stress you just don’t need. But if all those trips to the salad bar, sandwich joint, or taco truck are taking a toll on your budget—and your health—it might be time to whip up your own lunch recipes. Don’t worry, we’re making it super easy for you. These healthy lunch ideas use only three main ingredients each (not counting oils, pantry seasonings, or broth), making it easier than ever to stick to your brown-bagging goals.
1. 3-Ingredient Tomato Tortellini Soup
Soupy pasta for lunch is always a good idea. Store-bought tortellini helps out here to make this three-ingredient recipe the easiest soup you’ve ever made. Ready in just 15 minutes, it might also be the quickest.
2. 3-Ingredient Avocado Kale Salad
It looks like a simple salad, but with half an avocado per serving massaged into those kale leaves, this pile of greens is more filling than it appears. Still, it’s the perfect choice for a light lunch and easily portable.
3. The 3-Ingredient Tempeh Burger
Tempeh, like tofu, soaks up pretty much any flavor you put on it. Here, it’s blended into burger form with an egg and a whole lot of harissa paste, a super-flavorful African spice that’s potent in potassium and thyroid-regulating iodine. Eat the patty alone, or put it in a bun with your favorite burger fixin’s.
4. 3-Ingredient Creamy Tomato Shells
It’s hard to believe you can make rich, velvety pasta with just three ingredients, but thanks to cashews, it’s possible. Instead of cheese or cream, the nuts get blended with pasta sauce, creating a creamy coating for the shells—or whatever pasta you choose to use.
5. Baked Cheddar Cauliflower Bites
Cauliflower pizza is so hot right now. But if you need something a bit more lunchbox-friendly, these bites are the way to go. They basically use the ingredients for cauliflower pizza crust, just in muffin form. If you’re feeling indulgent, add pizza sauce on the side for dipping—it’s a fourth ingredient, but totally worth it.
6. Bacon Asparagus Frittata
A frittata doesn’t have to just be a breakfast item. Convenient and quick, it’s a smart option for any meal. With bacon and asparagus—both classic combos with eggs—this one is a little bit healthy, a little bit indulgent, and a whole lot tasty.
7. 3-Ingredient Tuna Avocado Salad
Even with just three ingredients, this salad is loaded with nutrition. The tuna is an excellent source of protein and polyunsaturated fats, while the avocado provides everything that mayo can’t: heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, a whole bunch of vitamins, and antioxidants.
8. Easy 3-Ingredient Chili
From spices galore to cups and cups of chopped veggies, some chili recipes throw in everything but the kitchen sink. This one opts for some salsa for the veggie component, a can of beans, and some ground beef. It’s simple, hearty, and classic.
9. Avocado Cream Cheese Sandwich
Whether you’re packing these sandwiches into your kids’ lunch boxes or your own, they’re a guaranteed hit. With buttery avocado; a smear of cream cheese; and soft, wheat bread, how could they not be?
10. Super-Simple Hummus Chicken Salad
A rotisserie chicken and some hummus make lunchtime a delicious no-brainer. Make the recipe with only three ingredients by tucking the protein-packed salad into a wrap or lettuce leaves.
11. Chickpea Avocado Mash With Lemon
Need a vegan version of that avocado tuna salad? No problem. This recipe swaps out the fish for chickpeas instead, managing to keep the dish high in protein. The beans also provide lots of fiber and heart-healthy, low-glycemic carbs.
12. 3-Ingredient Sausage Marinara Zoodles
Instead of spaghetti, zucchini spirals go for a quick dip in boiling water to get perfectly al dente. Paired with spaghetti sauce and sausage, it tastes so noodle-like, you’ll feel like you’re digging into a huge pasta lunch.
13. Skinny Asparagus and Feta Quiche
A quiche is a really easy take-to-work meal that packs in lots of protein and veggies. This crustless version makes the most of the fillings, using a ton of asparagus, crumbled feta for savory flavor, and liquid egg whites for added convenience. (Check out these other crustless quiche recipes if you’re in the mood.)
14. 3-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Taco Chicken
With salsa and taco seasoning pitching in for flavoring, and the slow cooker doing the actual… well, cooking, this easy make-ahead dish requires literally zero effort. Stuff the spiced chicken into tortillas, pile it onto a salad, or stir it with rice. It’s one recipe, but you can turn it into several different meals to make lunch exciting all week.
15. 3-Ingredient Salmon
One of the ingredients in this recipe is a pantry spice, so technically, all you really need is salmon and lemon juice. Pair the perfectly cooked fish with some nutty brown rice, and you’re still falling within the three-ingredient parameters.
16. Easy Homemade Pizza Rolls
A healthier take on crescent pizza rolls, these pinwheels use tortillas instead. Slather on your favorite pizza sauce and your preferred cheese, roll up, and devour. They’re not only easy to make, but they’re also a really fun lunch-box treat, no matter how old you are.
17. Pasta and Beans
Pasta e fagioli usually involves pancetta and fresh herbs. This version not only simplifies things by using pasta sauce (the garlic and spices are already in there!), but it also omits the meat to make this a vegetarian-friendly soup. Make it three ingredients—and vegan—by holding the cheese.
18. Mushroom Rice Pilaf
Meaty mushrooms lend so much earthy flavor and texture to this simple brown rice dish, it’s no wonder you don’t need a bunch of extra ingredients to make it taste good. It’s the perfect meal to make when you’re low on produce but still want something nourishing in your belly.
19. Zoodles With Turkey Meatballs
Three-ingredient spaghetti and meatballs? Well, close enough. With a simple tomato sauce, zucchini noodles, and nothing but turkey and a few dry spices in the meatballs, this back-to-basics recipe is a reminder that less is more.
Want More? Paleo Desserts That Only Use 3 Ingredients