Good Eats: 3 Perfect Brown Bag Lunches

Cara here from Big Girls, Small Kitchen. I’m going to be honest with you: I struggle with lunch. While I crave something satisfying midday, I also don’t have time to submit to a case of the afternoon snoozes.

Whether or not you’re actually headed back to school in the next month, late summer and early fall are the times to get in good habits, and that includes lunch. In these three recipes, I try to perfect the art of packing a brown bag for school or for work.

Since I love to experiment, I’ve tried all kinds of lunches (I am obsessed with cooking, after all), and eventually I’ve hit on recipes that hit a middle ground for the day’s middle meal. These three suggestions are exciting enough to make the morning drag in anticipation and light enough that the afternoon speeds by without the threat of a nap. Here it goes:
Good Eats: 3 Perfect Brown Bag Lunches
1. Swiss Chard Turnovers with Parmesan and Pistachios
These delicate-looking pastries are actually packed with healthy goodness: fresh greens, savory Parmesan, and protein-rich nuts. The purchased puff pastry also makes these easy to put together. Though they’re delicious out of the oven, they make a great little lunch or snack at room temperature. Pack two, plus some carrot or cucumber sticks. (You can see the original recipe here.) Depending on what looks good, you can also use spinach, kale, or mustard greens in place of the chard. Plus, sub in walnuts or pecans for the pistachios if those are easier for you to find.


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced then made into a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 10 large Swiss chard leaves, cut into 4 pieces each
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • One 17-ounce package of puff pastry–in the Pepperidge Farm package, this gives you two sheets–defrosted in the fridge


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the minced garlic, lemon juice, mustard, Parm, olive oil, and pepper. Stir well. Add the chard leaves and toss with the dressing to coat each piece generously.
  2. Take out one sheet of puff pastry and unfold it. If it’s uneven, use a rolling pin to shape into an even rectangle, but don’t roll it too thin. Use a paring knife to cut the sheet into 6 rectangles.
  3. Take one rectangle, and rotate it 45 degrees so it looks like a diamond. Pull out the two sides of the diamond, and layer on 3 pieces of chard, overlapping them, from the top point down to the bottom. Sprinkle on a couple of the chopped pistachios.
  4. Now, fold the side points of the diamond–the ones you stretched out a little–over the filling until they overlap about an inch. Press them down. It’s okay if it looks a little messy–as it cooks and puffs up, it’ll look fine.
  5. Using a spatula, transfer the turnover to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough until you have 12 turnovers.
  6. Bake them for 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, then serve. These also taste great room temperature and are easily reheated in the microwave.

Makes 12 turnovers (6 servings)

Good Eats: 3 Perfect Brown Bag Lunches
2. Crunchy, Spicy Hummus Wrap
Wraps are easy to transport, never get soggy, and really steal the show when it comes to looks. This wrap, filled with crunchy fresh veggies and gooey homemade hummus, is a standout. Colorful and delicious, it’s a little bit like a really good salad made portable. (You can see the original recipe here.)


  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup chipotle hummus
  • 6 medium tortillas
  • 2 cups sliced radishes
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, and cut into 4-inch match sticks
  • 1/4 lb baby arugula


  1. In a small mixing bowl, gently mash the avocado with 3/4 of the lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  2. On a work surface, spread a large spoonful of hummus over half of a tortilla. Spread a spoonful of the avocado mixture over the other half. Place a handful of carrot sticks in the center, top with a sprinkle of radishes, and 1/4 cup of arugula leaves.
  3. Fold in the top and bottom sides of the tortilla. Fold in one of the sides length-wise and roll the tortilla, making sure the top and bottom stay tucked. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Makes 6 sandwiches.

Good Eats: 3 Perfect Brown Bag Lunches
3. Kale Chef’s Salad
This salad is so typical of the way that I eat. Here’s my pattern: I take an ingredient that’s unequivocally healthful and use it as my canvas. In this case, that canvas is kale. Then, not wanting myself to feel deprived in the least, I throw in tons of rich, yet healthful ingredients. Here, that’s egg, avocado, and vinaigrette. As I eat, I savor the heart-healthy fats at the same time that I enjoy (really!) the nutritious kale. So far, this is a pretty good pattern for me. I hope you like it too! (You can see the original recipe here.)


  • 2 cups torn lacinato kale leaves (from about half a bunch)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely graded
  • 1 hardboiled egg (for instructions, go here), chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 ripe avocado, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey (it’s easier to just drizzle a tad in than actually measure)


  1. Place the kale in a bowl. Massage a few pinches of salt into the greens. Set aside while you do everything else.
  2. Once you’ve grated the carrots, boiled and peeled and chopped the egg, grated the Parm, chopped the walnuts, and diced the avocado, add all these ingredients to the bowl.
  3. In a second bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking as you go to emulsify the dressing. Add the honey and a pinch of salt.
  4. Pour most of the dressing over the salad and toss to mix it in with all the ingredients. Taste for salt. Add more dressing if you like. Eat now or pack up and eat later.

Makes 1 salad.

What kinds of recipes would you like to see for my next post?

Let me know if the comments!

Big Girls, Small Kitchen

Photos: Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Categories: Big Girls Small Kitchen, Good Eats, Recipe Box
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  • Ashley

    Yum! All three ideas look so delicious and healthy and I have always loved the idea of making meals ahead of time to store for later in the week!

  • Deanne Castro

    YUM! I want to test these recipes out!

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  • Diamenrose

    AFter seeing this i have really become hungry :S

  • kalamityray

    These look so good! I need to get back into making my own hummus–it’s quick and healthy. Lately it’s been all PB&J for lunch, time to shake things up!

  • Ravenous315

    The recipes aboubove are lovely but I would also like to see vegan recipes and maybe even detox or beautifying recipes. I love eating clean and feeling like I have given my body nutrient rich foods. You are amazing <3

  • oceangirl25

    Yummm! These recipes are good for getting into the habit of eating really healthy!

  • oceangirl25

    Yummmm! This is great inspiration to prepare really healthy lunches!

  • Cherry Dunia

    These lunches look so yummy. Since I’m a busy girl i’m sticking for the salads and sandwiches, but maybe it could be possible making this on a weekend and then have them ready for the week 😉


  • Ashley at Sincerely Miss Ash

    Ok, I am totally obsessed with spicy hummus, so this just means I will be definitely making this asap!! Thanks for sharing :)


  • Anna-Louise
    Please have a look at my blog for some tips on how to pamper your body for going on holiday or just to have a spa day! xx

  • kk

    I love that all of these recipes are vegetarian friendly. Thanks so much!

  • Raven Locks

    These all look so yummy! Especially the kale salad. Thanks for sharing these amazing recipes :)

    xo Azu

  • Harmony

    I like the wrap recipe except I would use plain , chipotle is so nauseating to me. I make mine in spinach tortillas with tomatoes, kales, sprouts, romaine and cheese. Next post would be great if you can do vegetarian dinners that focus on greens and protein. Thanks

  • lisanicole22

    YUM! What great easy healthy lunches for work!
    Happy Friday!
    Showered With Design

  • Kayla

    That salad and wrap look amazing! I am defiantly going to try soon- with no cheese though :-) Thanks!

  • Heather P.

    Love this! I’m heading back to teaching this week, and for the first time in years I can’t make it home for lunch – so I’m packing again. Great inspiration!

  • stephaniesstyle

    The wrap looks tasty!
    xx Stephanie (

  • hooleywithaz

    those swiss chard turnovers are like my favorite foods rolled into one. i am pinning that NOW.

  • Ashley burke

    That kale salad looks incredible! Kale is such a difficult green to prepare well as it is so prickly and dry. I can’t wait to try this. Thank you! xoxo

  • Becky Switzer

    I’d like to see more salads that I can make the night before, and bring to work. Preferably something that won’t get gross and soggy 😉 The recipes above look fantastic!

  • Ryan Ashleigh

    I’m a vegan so these recipes look delicious, but I just can’t eat them! Can you guys post a vegan recipe for my family and I?

    • Javi

      I´m vegan too! I want vegan recipes for me too! it looks delicious!

  • brittani

    @disqus_USyjlJ9SFG:disqus these recipes are easily adaptable for a vegan diet. Just omit the parmesan [im sure you wont miss it] and hardboiled egg [sub tofu]. Everything else except the puff pastry… which you can easily make vegan as well

  • Alice

    I struggle with finding healthy lunches, these look so good but my problem is I’m allergic to pulses so I find these healthy eating recipes/plans very hard to follow – any advice?

    • Elle

      Usually in my salads and such i use hum as but i really enjoy a garbanzo bean salad, in which humas would taste weird. in this case, i use a spinach dip. i think that the wrap recipe would still taste great if you used spinach instead :)

      • Guest

        Thanks but I am allergic to both beans and hummus (chic peas!)

  • Mary

    Love love love that these are all veg. Thanks!

  • Raven Locks

    Thanks for sharing these! All of these recipes look amazing :)

    xo Azu

  • Konstantina Bourtzou

    Interesting ideas! 😉

  • The Single Diaries

    Hummus wraps have become my new go-to lunch! They are so easy to make, delicious, and healthy– can’t beat that! I turn to Oh She Glows and Ambitious Kitchen for recipe inspiration. I definitely recommend checking them out!

    Jen Hacker | The Single Diaries

  • Lots of Love Lottie ♥

    That dressing sounds fantastic! May have to try it out…

    Lots of Love Lottie – Lifestyle Blog

  • Jessica

    That Kale salad looks and sounds the bomb!



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