When your days are packed with meetings, appointments, errands, and a social life, sometimes the only time to eat is when you’re on the go. Which is why we’re big fans of portable snacks and meals.
So we went on a mission to find as many recipes as possible that we could eat with our hands. No utensils required. After all, pretty as that mason jar salad may be, we’ve forgotten to pack a fork a few too many times (oops). These dishes reimagine favorites into breads, pies, and even muffins—just bring a napkin (if you still want to look somewhat civil when eating with your hands).
Grabbing a fast breakfast is easy enough, but it’s usually a sugary muffin or croissant that can lead to a growling stomach in just a few hours. Filled with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, and ham, this tasty pie is sure to satisfy. Don't forget to add thyme for a fresh burst of flavor.
For days when you're on your feet nonstop, soup isn’t exactly the best choice. Who can spoon pasta e fagioli into their mouth while walking? (Not us.) This recipe wraps up a classic in some pastry to make it handheld. Filled with mushrooms and broccoli, these savory pies offer a good dose of fiber that makes them super filling. A little bit of cheese takes these over the top. Though you’ll still want a napkin handy.
There’s nothing more delicious than a pile of chicken wings. There’s also nothing messier. These little pies wrap up all that tangy, spicy flavor into a portable package. Cooking bone-in chicken thighs might take a little more time, but the meat stays extra moist. You can also use any leftover chicken you have for faster cooking. Though the recipe calls for frying, baking works just as well, takes a lot less effort, and means less greasy hands.
Most recipes for pies leave those on a Paleo or gluten-free diet in the dust. Not these flaky beauties. The crust comes together in just a few minutes from a mixture of almond flour, arrowroot flour, coconut oil, and eggs. A hearty beef filling means these pies will be packed with plenty of protein and iron. It doesn’t hurt that they’re delicious either.
For a vegetarian take on hand pies, try this spiced lentil version (be sure to use vegetable broth instead of chicken), and you'll basically feel like you're a customer at your favorite Indian restaurant. Lentils pack loads of fiber molybdenum. Moly what? It's a mineral that helps cells produce energy.
On cold days or days when the AC is cranked a little too high, this meaty meal delivers immediate happiness. A hearty stew gets the to-go treatment when it’s packaged in some puff pastry. This recipe requires a little bit of patience, so it’s an ideal project for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s also the perfect opportunity to find something else to do with the rest of that beer... if you're not finishing off the case at happy hour.
Breads, Rolls, and Pockets
If you think all morning rolls have to be smothered in cinnamon sugar or frosting, think again. This simple, three-ingredient recipe offers a savory breakfast alternative with ham and mozzarella cheese. But breakfast shouldn’t get to have all the fun—these are perfect any time of day.
Any barbecue junkie knows a good sandwich practically requires a beach towel to stay clean, so these calzones are a complete lifesaver for busy days when grazing (and getting messy) simply won’t do. Just toss some cooked chicken with a mix of cheese, barbecue sauce, and caramelized onions for a really flavorful filling. No time to make the dough? Stop by a pizza place on the way home and pick up some of theirs.
French toast sticks from a drive-thru aren’t the only way to make that breakfast favorite portable. This recipe wraps cooked bacon with a slice of bread before dunking in an egg and milk batter. A couple of minutes in a sauté pan are all these rolls need before they’re ready to jet out the door. Breakfast just got a lot more fun.
When a busy day means hitting the road extra early, breakfast is all but forgotten. These savory calzones are a perfect solution, and they work just as well in the morning as they do in the evening. They're packed with eggs and sausage, so just one is sure to keep hunger at bay for hours.
The call of Mexican fast food is pretty hard to resist, especially when you have a packed schedule and little time to eat. That stuff can be loaded with all kinds of preservatives though. For a satisfying meal with the same Tex-Mex flair, these portable pockets offer plenty of protein and iron without all of the scary ingredients. Just don't forget the guac.
Pizza might seem like a good on-the-go meal, but skipping a plate and napkins usually means ending up with sauce stains on your clothes. These quick roll-ups offer all the taste of a slice of pie minus the greasy mess. Pepperoni is classic, but you can up the nutritional value by adding in some bell peppers, mushrooms, or broccoli.
When a busy day demands your full attention, this no-yeast bread is definitely in order. It contains the perfect combination of aromatic herbs and salty cheese, and it's a cinch to prepare. In just 10 minutes you can have a savory batter ready for baking.
When an unpredictable day means arriving home too late to cook, a stash of this hearty bread makes the perfect last-minute meal. It’s portable enough for noshing on the train, while running the streets, or immediately after stepping through the door. Think of it as the best way to marry all of your favorite Italian flavors: garlic, basil, and sun-dried tomatoes.
It seems like banana and pumpkin always win the quick-bread popularity contest, which is a real shame. We think savory versions deserve some time in the spotlight, and this bacon and cheese one is a great place to start. Just mix up the dry ingredients, add in the wet, then pour it all into a loaf pan. It’ll take close to an hour to bake, so feel free to catch up on your fave Netflix series while the house fills with heavenly smells.
Zucchini bread usually tastes like banana bread minus the banana: sweet and moist, and also kind of forgettable. To mix things up, try a savory squash version spiked with black pepper and herbs. One bite of this bread will convince you that summer squash is not to be underestimated.
Patties and Cakes
Crazy schedules usually mean the only way to enjoy seafood is fried and dipped in ketchup (you know, like fish sticks). These patties offer a delicious and way more nutritious alternative. They also make it so you don’t end up smelling like a deep-fryer after enjoying lunch!
Making risotto is definitely a time commitment. But cooking the creamy treat ahead of time and turning it into patties makes it into a handheld lunch or dinner for busy weekdays. Simply form the risotto into cakes and coat with seasoned breadcrumbs, then cook until golden brown. Top with Parmesan and a squeeze of lemon juice for added freshness. Who says brown-bagging is boring?
When unpredictable schedules mean arriving home at 10 p.m., recipes like these falafel patties are a lifesaver. They’re great as a topper for a salad or sandwich, but just as good eaten right out of your hand on the way to work. Loaded with ingredients like kale, broccoli, farro, and lentils, they’re just about as healthy as it gets.
A buttery baked potato is pure comfort food that always tastes great. This dish captures the same flavors, but transforms the knife-and-fork classic into a portable meal. Swapping regular spuds for sweet potatoes adds even more flavor and boosts the fiber and vitamin A. Save extras for easy meals all week and consider topping with spicy mayo for a creamy kick.
Morph quinoa into an easy-to-eat meal with these patties loaded with broccoli. Simply combine cooked quinoa with steamed broccoli, sauteed onions, breadcrumbs, cheese, and an egg. Form the mixture into patties and fry them up in just a few minutes. With protein, fiber, and vitamin C, these patties will make running from place to place a breeze.
Take kale out of the salad bowl and introduce it to your muffin tin to turn this powerful green into a travel-friendly meal. All of those antioxidants and vitamins make these a super smart choice for busy days. Bonus: No need to massage those leafy greens.
Some days it’s too much hassle to pack a granola and yogurt parfait, and then have to clean your dirty dishes at the office. These adorable, portable treats feature an oat, applesauce, honey, and coconut crust that packs tons of great crunch. The Greek yogurt and fresh fruit topping means this morning meal will be sweet, creamy, and full of protein and vitamins.
For a really fun way to transform breakfast, these egg cups are the winners. They’re also about as simple as it gets. Simply line a muffin tin with ham (smoked turkey is also delicious), fill each cup with an egg, and toss them in the oven. With two ingredients, whatever you want to add, we’re in love!
Eating lasagna without silverware sounds like a recipe for disaster, unless it’s made in a muffin tin. These adorable mini-meals make the Italian classic practical for any weekday. Layering the meat sauce and ricotta cheese might be a bit of a project, but it goes really fast if you blast some tunes while you work.
Think muffins are just for breakfast? Not when they get the savory addition of tuna salad. These baked cups have all the flavor of the classic sandwich with a lot less mess. Plus they're loaded with protein and B vitamins from the tuna. Who knew canned fish could be so fancy?
For those who can’t decide between sweet and savory in the morning, these French toast muffins (yes, French toast you can eat with your hands!) are the solution. A sweet cinnamon raisin bread crust complements the salty sausage. Not a fan of sausage? Swap in diced ham or turkey sausage instead.
It’s easy to make oatmeal in a snap, but trying to eat it on your commute is a challenge no one needs first thing in the morning. These filling cups turn the creamy porridge into a transportable breakfast that’s just as tasty warm or cold. Any of your favorite oatmeal toppings can go right into the mix.
Turn caprese salad into a mobile meal with these clever muffins.
Line each muffin cup with the dough, then fill with mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, tomato, and basil. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes and enjoy pizza on-the-go.
These muffins add a nutritious twist to the cheesy favorite. Whole-wheat pasta offers more nutrients than the white kind, and spinach provides vitamin K to keep bones healthy. The muffins cook for 10 to 15 minutes, which gives just enough time to sneak in a few sun salutations or a quick shower before heading out the door.
Let’s be honest: Muffins are usually just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. We’re all for a treat now and again, but there are other options that won’t leave your belly growling after a few hours. These baked goodies take a savory turn with spinach and black pepper. New to amaranth? It’s a seed (not a grain) that’s filled with protein, calcium, and iron. Eat up!
Mom might have made meatloaf back in the day, but it definitely wasn’t as adorable as these miniature versions. Ground turkey is a great lean protein, and adding zucchini to the mix keeps the muffins moist. Swapping out traditional breadcrumbs for oats means these mini meals will have even more staying power. Skip the ketchup topping for less mess.
Orginally published April 2015. Updated August 2016.