web analytics

Medium Sized Family uses affiliate links. If you click a link, we could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Read more.

Share or Save This

With the right recipes for make ahead cold lunches, you’ll save a ton of cash without using up too much of your time. These recipes are perfect!

The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.

You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.

(That’s more money down the drain.)

As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.

So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.

(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato.  But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)

The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!

You have to find the time to pack something.

Then you have to remember to have food on hand.

And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?

Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.

Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.

Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.

Delicious Make Ahead Cold Lunches

You'll have enough make ahead cold lunches for the week with these recipes!

Finding Time For The Shopping

All of these make ahead lunches are simple enough to throw together at home…assuming you have the right ingredients!

Looking for more no brainer ways to save money in this economy?  You gotta try $5 Meal Plans! 

If you’re like most people I know, you can never find the time (or the brain power) to make an actual meal plan, even though you know darned well it would save you money.

So why not let someone else do it for you?  Try it now for free!  (My favorite price!)

Hard Boiled Eggs

When I know we have a busy week coming up, I put on a pot of hard boiled eggs.

It’s easy protein on the go, and the kids love this lunch option.

Egg Salad

Have a little more time?  Turn those boiled eggs into egg salad!

Use a favorite old recipe or try something new.

(How about this one that uses avocado in place of mayo?)


Muffins are easy and versatile, which makes them my go to option when I’m low on groceries.

Use whatever fruit you have fresh or in the freezer.  The best part is that you can use the fruit that’s starting to get a little mushy (and you know the kids aren’t going to eat it!).

Muffins also freeze well, which makes them easy to keep on hand.

You can go for a traditional recipe with affordable ingredients, or find recipes that fit your healthier lifestyle.

There are plenty of recipe options out there!

brown bag lunch ideas for field trips, field trip lunch ideas, easy lunches to pack, easy packed lunch ideas, pack lunch ideas, pack lunch ideas for school, easy packed lunch, packed lunch ideas for school trips, food for school lunches, quick school lunches

For something interesting, make corn dog muffins.  I like to use this amazing cornbread recipe.  Then I just cut hot dogs into thirds and drop one piece of hot dog on top of each muffin before I bake it.

Roll Ups

Ah, the perfect option when you’re tired of sandwiches!

Just take sandwich ingredients and roll them up in a tortilla.  You can even cut them into pinwheels by slicing the roll into circles!

And suddenly everyone is a fan of sandwiches again!  (Uh, I mean roll ups!  haha)

Look for recipes using your favorite ingredients on Pinterest.  Or try my Pickle Dip Roll Ups for something a little different!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

If you can find it in a Lunchable, you can make it work using homemade ingredients, right?

Whip up a batch of baked homemade chicken nuggets

And no worries if you don’t have a way to microwave them.  These nuggets are delicious even cold!

By the way, don’t forget about all of those sauce packets you’ve been saving from the drive thru. Drop one of those into the lunch bag and for an extra treat!

Chicken Pasta Salad

Take some leftover chicken and cut it into cubes.

Add it to pasta salad (use a box if you like or make your own with a recipe like this).

lunch for hot days, cool lunch for hot days, cold lunch for hot days, easy lunch for hot days, light lunch for hot days, best lunch for hot days, hot weather food, food for hot days, cold food recipes, meals for hot summer days

Then divvy lunch portions into individual bowls to make them easy for grab and go.

Chicken Taquitos

Need another way to use up your leftover chicken?

Try these easy Cream Cheese and Chicken Taquitos!  They whip up quickly, taste yummy, and give you something a little different with your lunch.


Who doesn’t love pizza?  There are so many ways to use pizza in lunches.

Make a homemade pizza using this easy pizza dough recipe, and put slices in containers for lunch all week.

large family meals, the best easy homemade pizza dough

Or you could take English muffins, top them with sauce, cheese, and even some toppings, and put them in the toaster oven (or regular oven) until the cheese melts.

Heck, order a cheap pizza from your favorite place (with a coupon).  I’ll never tell.  😉

You’re still going to save money over buying lunch every day of the work (or school) week!


Take a cue from your favorite lunch places and put together a bowl using your favorite ingredients.

Create a salad based bowl and add toppings that range from a traditional “rabbit food” bowl (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and more), to spicy southwestern flavors (with beans and corn), to your own favorite seasonal toppings.

You can make a taco salad bowl or find your favorite combo of protein and veggies to create the best flavors.


Make a big pot of soup, stew, or chili and put it into individual bowls.  Take them with you to warm up at work.

Or you can warm it in the morning and pour it into a thermos.  Done!

Looking for a refreshing cold soup?  Try a gazpacho like this one.

These simple ideas for making packed lunch the night before (or even the weekend before!) will make saving money easier than ever!

Be sure to pin this post for later!

Want more tips that make packing lunches easier than ever?  Check out this post!

Easy Lunch Menu Ideas for Parents Tired of Packing Lunches

What’s your favorite thing to pack in a lunch?

Make ahead lunches that are cheap and easy. These lunch ideas are perfect for work or for kids! They're delicious cold foods so no need to worry about heating these recipes.

Easy lunch ideas for busy people. Simple meals to take for lunch. Lunch ideas for adults. Lunch ideas for kids.

Need a make ahead lunch for work? These ideas and recipes are delicious cold. Get healthy ways to eat lunch. Meal prep on a budget and save money on food.