13 Delicious Twists on Classic Lunches

Brown-bagging it doesn't have to be boring. Upgrade traditional lunch recipes with these easy tweaks.

Turkey sandwich. Tuna sandwich. Ham sandwich. Sigh. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then lunch may be the most boring. Put an end to ho-hum midday meals with these genius recipe upgrades.

01 of 12

Classic: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Ryan Benyi/MyRecipes.com


Peanut Butter and Pear Sandwich

Swap out sugary jelly for naturally sweet pears, raisins, and honey. Pears break up the monotony of traditional PB&J by adding crunch to every bite—and a dose of filling fiber and antioxidants.

Ingredients: Peanut butter, whole-wheat bread, raisins, pears, cinnamon, honey

Calories: 525

Try this recipe: Peanut Butter and Pear Sandwich

02 of 12

Classic: Reuben



Pastrami-Spiced Tofu Reuben

The average Reuben sandwich racks up nearly 800 calories. This vegetarian-friendly version swaps out beef pastrami for tofu, reducing the calorie count by nearly half. With 20 grams of protein per serving, you're sure to feel full until dinner!

Ingredients: Firm tofu, reduced-fat mayonnaise, ketchup, sweet pickles, coriander, ground black pepper, garlic powder, salt, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, extra-virgin olive oil, sauerkraut, pickled jalapeno, unsalted butter, pumpernickel bread, Swiss cheese

Calories: 454

03 of 12

Classic: Cobb Salad



Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps

We get it: eating a salad every day is good for you. But does it get boring? Yes. These wraps—which you eat with your hands—are a finger-licking-good alternative that makes eating veggies feel fun again. Avocado and a touch of blue cheese add creaminess without fattening dressings.

Ingredients: Reduced-fat mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, black pepper, cooking spray, Canadian bacon, iceberg lettuce, smoked deli turkey breast slices, tomato, avocado, red onion, crumbled blue cheese

Calories: 177

Try this recipe: Cobb Salad Lettuce Wraps

04 of 12

Classic: Turkey Club with Mayo on White Bread

Jim Bathie/Health.com


Turkey Club with Pesto on Pumpernickel Bread

Choosing pumpernickel bread over traditional white for your turkey club has two clear benefits: it gives your sammie a more complex nutty flavor, and it's a lot better for you. (A recent study revealed that frequent white-bread eaters are 40% more likely to become overweight than those who eat it less often.) And pesto not only adds flavor; the olive oil and pine nuts it's made from are known metabolism-boosters.

Ingredients: Prepared pesto, pumpernickel bread, sliced turkey, turkey bacon, romaine lettuce, tomato, apple

Calories: 390

Try this recipe: Pesto Turkey Club

05 of 12

Classic: Chicken-Noodle Soup

Randy Mayor and Mary Catherine Muir/MyRecipes.com


Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Forget canned chicken soup. Ginger, garlic, Thai spices, mint, and cilantro give this homemade version an Asian twist. Make it ahead of time and package it to take to work for the rest of the week.

Ingredients: Water, shallots, ginger, garlic, Thai fish sauce, salt, pepper, chicken broth, chicken thighs, vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro, basil, mint, lime

Calories: 346

Try this recipe: Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

06 of 12

Classic: Ham Sandwich

Jim Bathie/Health.com


Ham, Sliced Pear, and Swiss Sandwich

Here's another classic sandwich that features fiber- and antioxidant-packed pears. This ham sandwich also swaps out fattening mayonnaise for plain, low-fat Greek yogurt, which provides an additional punch of protein.

Ingredients: Plain low-fat Greek yogurt, dill, pumpernickel bread, sliced lean ham, pear, Swiss cheese

Calories: 390

07 of 12

Classic: Pizza Delivery



Zucchini, Scallion, and Parmesan Pizza

It's all too easy to call for pizza delivery for your officemates at lunchtime. Instead, why not impress your coworkers with this healthier, more exciting version? Whole-wheat pizza dough is topped with zucchini, scallions, and just a sprinkling of flavorful Parmesan.

Ingredients: All-purpose flour and cornmeal, whole-wheat pizza dough, olive oil, scallions, zucchini, salt, pepper, Parmesan, fresh mint

Calories: 325

08 of 12

Classic: Tuna Sandwich



Mediterranean Tuna Melt

Instead of mixing canned tuna with mayo (yawn), try a jar of heart-healthy oil-packed tuna topped with staples from the Mediterranean diet. Olives, chives, roasted red peppers, and melted Manchego will make you wonder why you ever ate tuna any other way.

Ingredients: Multigrain boule, extra-virgin olive oil, Spanish tuna, lemon zest, lemon juice, roasted red peppers, Spanish olives, red onion, Manchego, chives, Marcona almonds

Calories: 421

09 of 12

Classic: Grilled Cheese Sandwich with American



Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Cheddar and Apples

Grilled cheese is a treat, but you can make it healthier—and tastier—by swapping out American cheese for cheddar and adding apple slices and baby spinach leaves. Multigrain bread sets you up with two out of your three recommended daily servings of whole grains.

Ingredients: Mayonnaise, whole-grain multigrain bread, Dijon mustard, cheddar, apple, baby spinach

Calories: 325

10 of 12

Classic: Macaroni and Cheese

Jim Bathie/MyRecipes.com


Baked Two-Cheese Penne with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Mac and cheese soothes the soul, but nobody would ever call this comfort food healthy. You won't miss it with this upgraded version that swaps in whole-wheat pasta. The entire four-serving recipe uses just 3 ounces of flavor-packed fontina and Gouda cheeses, but is still creamy thanks to a secret ingredient: Greek yogurt.

Ingredients: Whole-wheat penne, olive oil, all-purpose flour, salt, black pepper, low-fat milk, Gouda, fontina, panko, roasted red bell pepper, low-fat Greek yogurt

Calories: 433

11 of 12

Classic: Cheeseburger



Guilt-Free Cheeseburger

Sure, it's tempting to hit the drive-through for lunch—but the choices there are uninspired at best. Plus, fast food spikes your blood sugar, so within a couple hours you'll feel hungry again. Try this guiltless cheeseburger instead—it features lean sirloin, and is topped with heart-healthy avocado and a juicy tomato salsa.

Ingredients: Lean sirloin, garlic, chili powder, kosher salt, cheddar, romaine, avocado, fresh salsa, sourdough bun

Calories: 466

12 of 12

Classic: Cheese Quesadilla



Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas

You've never had a quesadilla quite like this! This recipe uses less cheese than a traditional quesadilla, and instead ramps up the flavor with sweet potatoes and red onions. Spinach adds virtually zero calories but gives you 56% of your daily vitamin A needs, plus a host of other nutrients.

Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, red wine vinegar, sugar, black peppercorns, red onion, kosher salt, black pepper, flour tortillas, baby spinach, shredded part-skim mozzarella, olive oil

Calories: 391

Try this recipe: Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas

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