7 Lunches That Don’t Need to Be Refrigerated (+Instructions)

Written By: Paul

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Many convenient, make-ahead lunch ideas make the incorrect assumption that the person bringing their lunch to work will have access to a refrigerator – where your lunch can be stored until you are ready to eat.

In the modern business and professional world, this is often the case. But what happens if your job is one in which a refrigerator is not typically available? Or, if you travel for work – long hours on the highway or even on an airplane, where refrigeration becomes a bit out of reach and even a luxury at times. Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer with soggy, sad sandwiches, drive-thru/fast-food options, or stale snacks from rest-stop or airport vending machines.  

There are incredibly innovative and high-tech lunch bag/box options that help solve some of the dilemmas created by a lack of refrigeration. Add the modern version of the old-fashioned or traditional thermos – a.k.a. the Yeti Cup (or one of the many similar quality products) and choose one of the lunches that don’t need to be refrigerated suggested below – and you are set to go.

With a bit of planning ahead – which only sounds complicated but is easy once you establish the behavior, lunchtime options can be deliciously satisfying and even healthy – even if your job or hobby takes you away from easy access to a fridge for hours at a time.

Ideas for Meal Prep Lunches That Don’t Need to be Refrigerated

The lunch recipes below are safe to eat if left at room temperature without refrigeration. They can also be packed in modern, innovative lunch packs that allow your midday meal to travel well and extend the time you can leave without refrigeration.

#1 Hummus & Veggie Wrap

  • Prep Time/Cook Time – 15 minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions – It’s best to consume this healthy and delicious lunch within a few hours unless it is in an insulated bag/box

A hummus vegetable wrap is a delicious and healthy choice for a meal or, for many, a great alternative snack. It is also versatile because it is simple to tailor with your favorite seasonings and veggies.  

Ingredients Needed for this Delicious Hummus & Veggie Wrap

  • 2 Tablespoons Hummus. Some seriously delicious store-bought hummus options are available – with a growing variety of flavors
  • 1 – 8-Inch Tortilla
  • 1/4 Cup of Torn Mixed Salad Greens – Select Your Favorite
  • 2 Tablespoons of Finely Chopped Sweet Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons of Alfalfa Sprouts
  • 2 Tablespoons of Shredded Carrot
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thinly Sliced Cucumber
  • 1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinaigrette

Cooking Instructions the Hummus & Veggie Wrap

  • Spread your choice of hummus over the tortilla
  • Layer the wrap/sandwich with salad greens, cucumber, sprouts, onion, and carrot
  • Drizzle with your favorite or homemade vinaigrette
  • Roll up tightly and wrap well so the wraps travel well

#2 Scrambled Chickpea Pita

  • Prep Time – 5 – 10 minutes
  • Cook Time – 30 minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions – none

These vegan pitas are perfect for big-batch cooking – so note the recipe makes a dozen for easy storage. Grab a frozen pita and put it into the fridge the night before you plan on eating it. This will allow this delicious and healthy option to finish thawing before lunchtime.

Ingredients Needed for These Scrambled Chickpea Pitas

  • 6  (15-ounce) Cans of Garbanzo Beans – Drained and Rinsed Before Use
  • 1/4 Cup of Coconut Oil
  • 2  Red Bell Peppers (Medium-sized) – Cored/Seeded and Diced
  • 1 Medium Onion – Diced
  • 2 Teaspoons of Ground Turmeric
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons of Ground Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 6 Cups of Baby Spinach – Chop Coarsely
  • 6 Regular-Sized Pita Breads Cut in Halves that Form Half Moons

Cooking Instructions for this Scrambled Chickpea Pita

  • Add 3 cans of chickpeas to a food processor and pulse the mixture with its blade attachment. Do not over pulse as this will puree the chickpeas. Note – you can do this manually in a bowl and with a fork
  • Set aside
  • Heat the coconut oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until it shimmers
  • Add the diced onions and stir them to coat with oil
  • Cook the onions for approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until they are soft
  • Stir in the bell peppers, turmeric, garlic powder, cumin, and salt
  • Cook for 4 minutes or until the red pepper becomes tender
  • Add the whole/mashed chickpeas
  • Stir to combine, and cook for approximately five minutes
  • Stir in the spinach and cook for three minutes – as the spinach wilts
  • Remove the pan from the heat
  • Divide the chickpea mixture among the pitas, filling each pita half with 3/4 to 1 cup of the chickpea salad. Note that these chickpea pitas can be wrapped in aluminum foil (then in a resealable plastic bag) and stored for three months in the freezer or up to three days in the fridge

#3 Peanut Butter & Banana Pinwheels

  • Prep Time – 5 minutes
  • Cook Time – 5-10 minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions – note that many people are highly allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.

For peanut butter lovers, these unique and delicious peanut butter/banana pinwheels offer a quick energy boost that travels well.

Ingredients Needed for these Peanut Butter and Banana Pinwheels

  • 1 Large Whole Wheat Tortilla Or Flatbread
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons Of Peanut Butter (Choose Almond Butter as an Alternative)
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • A Sprinkle Of Cinnamon (Optional)

Cooking Instructions for Peanut Butter & Banana Pinwheels

  • Lay out the whole wheat tortilla on a clean surface
  • Peel the ripe banana and cut it into thin slices
  • Spread the peanut butter over the tortilla
  • Place the banana slices evenly across the tortilla, covering the peanut butter. Arrange them any way that works for you
  • Although optional, many people sprinkle a little ground cinnamon over the top for extra flavor, as it adds warmth to the taste
  • Carefully roll up the tortilla with the banana and peanut butter, starting from one edge and rolling it up tightly to form a log
  • Slice the rolled tortilla into 1-inch-thick pinwheels
  • Secure each pinwheel with a toothpick
  • Pack your lunch with celery sticks, dried mangoes, roasted almonds, and blueberries for a complete and nutritious meal

#4 Quinoa Tabbouleh

  • Prep Time – 15 minutes
  • Cook Time – 45 minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions – none

Swapping tender and nutty quinoa instead of the more traditional bulgur is a fun way to change what is deemed a more conventional tabbouleh. The following lunch recipe also adds some extra protein to your midday meal. 

Ingredients Needed for Quinoa Tabbouleh

  • 1 Cup of Uncooked Quinoa
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion – Chopped (Equivalent to 3/4 of a Cup)
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes – Chopped (Equivalent to 2 Cups)
  • 1 1/2 To 2 Cups of Minced Parsley (Equivalent to 1 Large Bunch)
  • 1/2 Cup of Minced Mint (Equivalent to 1 Small Bunch)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – Minced
    Pro-tip- you can mince the herbs by hand or use a food processor to get it done faster
  • 1/4 Cup of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice, – Plus Extra to Taste if Needed
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 8 Ounces of Feta – which is Optional

Cooking Instructions for this Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe

  • Rinse the quinoa under cool water
  • Then, add the quinoa to 2 cups of water in a medium pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Bring to a rapid simmer and lower to medium-low heat
  • Cover the quinoa, and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the quinoa becomes fluffy as well as chewy
  • While the quinoa is cooking, the onion should soak in cold water to soften the texture and remove the bite when eaten raw
  • Allow the cooked quinoa to cool in a large bowl – until it is barely warm to the touch
    Pro-tip – Spread the quinoa into a thin layer to expedite the cooling process
  • After draining the onions, add the tomatoes, parsley, mint, and garlic into the quinoa
  • Whisk the lemon juice along with the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Stir into the quinoa and veggie mixture until combined. Add the optional crumbled feta
  • Add salt/pepper to taste if needed
  • Pack your lunch with clementine, black olives, green beans, and roasted almonds for a complete and nutritious meal

#5 Kale, Butternut Squash & Farro Salad

  • Prep Time – 10 minutes
  • Cook Time – 50 minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions – none

This wholesale and comforting recipe is chock full of nutrition (16 grams of protein & 20 grams of fiber) and taste.

Ingredients Needed for this Kale, Butternut Squash & Farro Salad

  • 1 Butternut Squash – Peeled, Seeds Removed And Diced Into 1/2 Inch Cubes
    Pro-tip- Roasting the butternut squash and garlic can be done in advance
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil – Divided
  • 2 Cups of Farro
    Pro-tip- when added to the roasted squash, Farro’s chewy texture makes a cozy room-temperature meal. The farro can be cooked in advance and kept in the fridge for a day or so
  • 1 Tablespoon of Butter
  • 3 Cups of Kale – Finely Shredded
  • 1 Shallot – Finely Diced
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper and Kosher Salt
  • Store-bought or homemade cranberry Sauce

Cooking Instructions for the Kale, Butternut Squash & Farro Salad Recipe

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F
  • Put the butternut squash and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle half the olive oil and add salt and pepper
  • Toss well to evenly coat
  • Roast the butternut squash for about 15 – 20 minutes or until the squash becomes fork-tender
  • While the butternut squash and garlic roast, place the farro and about 5 cups of cold water in a saucepan. Add a generous amount of salt before bringing it to a boil over medium/high heat
  • When boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. After covering, allow farro to cook until it blooms – about 35-40 minutes
  • When the butternut squash is cooked, take it from the oven and set aside
  • Squeeze the garlic out of the peel (throw the peel in the trash) into a small bowl. Mash the cooked garlic with a fork and set it aside
  • In a deep sauté pan, heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and butter over medium-low heat
  • Add the shallots and roasted garlic once the butter melts, and cook for a minute or until the shallots become translucent
  • Stir in the squash, kale, and farro
  • Season the final mixture with salt/pepper to suit your taste
  • Take off the heat
  • Transfer the salad to a lunch pack and add a side of cranberry dressing

#6 Charcuterie Lunch Box/Board

  • Prep Time/Cook Time – 15 minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions – select items that you find delicious and nutritious. Avoid nuts that may cause an allergic reaction to others if you eat in a crowded setting

A charcuterie board offers more of an assembled lunch than one you cook. The idea is to choose your favorite of the dried, salt-cured, or smoked meats – all of which are fine if left out for a few hours between your work arrival and lunch.

Ingredients Needed for this Charcuterie Lunch Box/Board

The following ingredients are mere suggestions, as this lunch doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can be customized to suit your palette and taste preferences.

  • Cured meats – dried salami, prosciutto, soppressata or capicola – sliced or cubed
  • Beef jerky – cut into easy-to-eat bites
  • Fresh veggies – select cucumber or peppers – which need no refrigeration
  • Bread/Crackers – keep bread covered until used to avoid it becoming stale
  • Nuts – If you are a nut lover (and non-allergic), almonds, walnuts, or cashews add texture and are resistant to spoilage
  • Fruit – add some plums, cherries, grapes, or peaches for a touch of sweetness and added fiber
  • Dried fruits – apricots, raisins, cranberries, dates, etc.

Cooking/Assembly/Packing Instructions for this Charcuterie Lunch Box/Board

As noted above, the items you have chosen to include in your lunch that need no refrigeration should be packed in small plastic bags or the compartments of a nifty Bento Box. Many people have seen or even used a Bento Box – often an option at a Japanese restaurant that offers a little bit of everything.

Essentially, a reusable bento box (available pretty much everywhere) is simply a wide tray that is divided into separate parts/compartments – each of which holds something different. This innovative and simple concept allows you to take along various healthy and delicious food choices that can be packed with ease and travel (and keep) well until lunchtime arrives.

#7 Tahini and Avocado Soba Noodles

  • Prep Time – 5 minutes
  • Cook Time – 10 minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions – none

This Vegan Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Tahini Sauce is the perfect combination of noodles and salad. It is easy to make, keeps well without a fridge, and is packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Ingredients Needed for Tahini and Avocado Soba Noodles

  • For The Tahini-Miso Dressing
    • ¼ Cup of Tahini Paste.
    • 3 ½ Tablespoons of Organic Red Miso Paste.
    • ¼ Cup, Plus 1 Tablespoon of Rice Vinegar.
    • 1 To 2 Tablespoons of Sriracha.
  • For The Noodle Salad
    • One 8-To-9½-Ounce Pack of Dried Soba Noodles.
    • 1 Cup of thinly sliced Jicama Matchsticks.
    • 2 Cups of Baby Spinach.
    • 1 Avocado — Pitted, Peeled and Sliced.
    • 2 Tablespoons Gomashio, Plus More As Needed.

Pro-tip – Gomashio is a dry, macrobiotic seasoning used in Japanese cuisine made from un-hulled sesame seeds. It is believed to strengthen one’s digestive system.

Cooking Instructions for this Tahini and Avocado Soba Noodle Recipe

  • Cook the soba noodles in boiling water in a medium saucepan. It is recommended that you follow the directions on the package.
  • While it is cooking, it is time to make the dressing –
    • Combine the tahini paste, miso paste, rice vinegar, and Sriracha in a large bowl.o Whisk these ingredients well.
  • Drain the cooked soba noodles and then rinse them under cold running water; set aside, leaving them in a colander after you have rubbed the noodles together to keep them from clumping together.
  • Combine the drained and cooled soba noodles with the dressing and toss.
  • Add and mix in the Jicama and baby spinach.
  • Pack some avocado slices and a bit of gomashio.

Hi, I'm Paul. Welcome to my website! I, along with my cronies, are leveraging our years of working in the food industry to review meal and drink delivery services. We review. You eat happily ever after.

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