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42 Cold Lunch Ideas

No access to a refrigerator or microwave? You can still have a delicious and hearty lunch! These cold lunch ideas are perfect when all you have is a lunch box and a freezer pack.

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Chicken Caesar Pitas

Hand-held and picnic friendly, these chicken-stuffed pockets pack a double dose of whole grains from brown rice and whole wheat pitas. The chicken can be made up to 2 days in advance for a fast-fix lunch. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen

Wondering what you can have for lunch besides sandwiches? Try these restaurant salad copycat recipes.

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Hasselback Tomato Clubs

This no-fuss, no-bread riff on a classic is perfect during tomato season. Make it for lunch or pair with pasta salad for a light dinner. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Mint-Cucumber Tomato Sandwiches

I jazzed up the quintessential teatime cucumber sandwich to suit my family's tastes. This was my absolute go-to sandwich last summer when I was pregnant. It hit all the right spots! —Namrata Telugu, Terre Haute, Indiana

Packing lunch for the little ones? Get all of our kids’ lunch recipes here.

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Cranberry Salsa Turkey Wraps

Once your family tastes these mouthwatering roll-ups, they'll never look at leftover turkey in the same way! The cranberry salsa combines both sweet and spicy flavors.—Elke Rose, Waukesha, Wisconsin
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Tuna and White Bean Lettuce Wraps

Say bye-bye to ho-hum tuna salad. Here's a recipe we actually look forward to eating. —Heather Senger, Madison, Wisconsin
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Gingered Spaghetti Salad

We love this chilled chicken salad brimming with colorful veggies. Make it meatless by omitting the chicken and tossing in more edamame. —Cindy Heinbaugh, Aurora, Colorado
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Chicken Cucumber Pitas

I wanted a good recipe for pitas. Seeing the large stack of garden-fresh cucumbers on my counter, I decided to improvise and create my own filling. It was a huge hit. —Sheena Wellard, Nampa, Idaho
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BLT with Peppered Balsamic Mayo

Here’s my twist on the classic BLT. Creamy avocado, balsamic mayo and crisp salad greens make this version legendary in my book. For a lighter take, I often use turkey bacon. —Ami Boyer, San Francisco, California
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Shrimp Gazpacho

Here’s a refreshing take on the classic chilled tomato soup. Our twist features shrimp, lime and plenty of avocado. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Pork Spring Rolls

When my daughter started a gluten-free diet, I experimented in the kitchen to create some new foods. My mild pork rolls were a hit with all of our friends and family who sampled them.
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Beef 'n' Cheese Wraps

These make-ahead wraps are delicious, portable and ideal for picnics and tailgates. Enjoy them whole or slice them into 1-inch pieces to serve them as an appetizer. They also make an excellent lunch on the go. —Sue Sibson, Howard, South Carolina
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Havarti Turkey Hero

This is not your ordinary sandwich! Everyone loves the combination of chutney and chopped peanuts. I like to make this when I have company in the afternoon or at night after a game of cards. —Agnes Ward, Stratford, Ontario
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Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwiches

Parmesan cheese and dill make this the most incredible chicken salad I’ve ever tasted. For the no-cook version, use canned chicken. These sandwiches are a simple entree to serve at parties, showers or picnics.—Jaclyn Bell, Logan, Utah
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Shrimp Avocado Salad

This salad can be served as a cool and satisfying dinner or lunch. The delicious taste and smooth texture of avocados mixed with the crisp shrimp salad is heavenly. —Teri Rasey, Cadillac, Michigan
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Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad

I love all the colors and flavors of this quick and easy dish and serve it often in summer, to the delight of my guests! You can't beat the combination of Gorgonzola and bacon. Leftover grilled shrimp makes a tasty substitute for chicken. —Terry McCarty, Oro Grande, California
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Focaccia Sandwiches

Slices of this pretty sandwich make any casual get-together more speical. Add or change ingredients to your taste. —Peggy Woodward, Shullsburg, Wisconsin
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Salmon Bean Wraps

Here’s a healthy wrap low in saturated fat and full of the wonderful nutrients in avocado, black beans and smoked salmon. It’s super easy and perfect for a quick lunch. —Jess Apfe, Berkeley, California
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Better than Egg Salad

Tofu takes on the taste and texture of egg salad in this quick-fixing sandwich from Lisa Renshaw of Kansas City, Missouri.
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Fried Chicken Pitas

These pitas are very different from your usual chicken sandwiches—they use leftover fried chicken! No one will be able to resist these tasty treats. —Jennifer Veneziano, Carmel, Indiana
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Mediterranean Tuna Salad

In spite of a long list of ingredients, this tuna salad is very quick to prepare. You'll love the fresh flavors. —Renee Nash, Snoqualmie, Washington
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Loaded Deli Sub Sandwich

When I can't decide between a turkey or roast beef sandwich, I go for both, then pile on fresh, crunchy veggies and two kinds of cheese. Those those that like a little bit of everything, this sub more than satisfies. —Jamie Fanning, Creighton, Nebraska
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Flying Saucers

These handy pita pocket sandwiches can be filled and served ready to eat... or you can set up a make-your-own buffet with ingredients that the kids can choose to suit themselves.
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Apple-Swiss Turkey Sandwiches

Honey mustard adds a sweet tang to this hearty concoction. Apple slices, Swiss cheese, cucumber and turkey are layered between slices of nutritious multi-grain bread. These delicious sandwiches pack well to take to the office or on the trail. —Gloria Updyke, Front Royal, Virginia
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Cranberry Turkey Wraps

Fruity and flavorful, these hefty grab-and-go handfuls are quick to assemble, easy to handle and low in calories. We often take them in a cooler to the local stock show and eat them in the stands. Everyone seems to love them! —Bobbie Keefer, Byers, Colorado
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Almond Chicken Salad

My mother used to prepare this chicken salad with grapes and almonds for an evening meal during the hot summer months. It's my favorite of my mother's chicken salad recipes. You can also serve it as a delicious but quick luncheon or potluck dish. —Kathy Kittell, Lenexa, Kansas
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Orange Turkey Croissants

Orange you glad it’s not the same old crustless ham and cheese? Orange you also glad you don’t have to get up early to pack lunch? In less than 10 minutes, you (and five others) will have something to look forward to all morning long. —Jennifer Moore, Centerville, Iowa
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Gouda Turkey Club

With this recipe, two can enjoy the taste of something new and elegant in minutes. All you need to add is the ambiance for a bistro meal at home. —Karen Harris, Littleton, Colorado
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Cajun Shrimp & Cucumber Wraps

Balance the heat of spicy Cajun shrimp by wrapping them up with lettuce, cucumbers and parsley. This hand-held dinner is perfect for dining alfresco. — Chantel Beauregard, Lake Arrowhead, California
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Turkey Salad on Wheat Bread

When one of my favorite lunch spots closed, this recipe let me hold on to more than just good memories. The peas, bacon and cheese are such a fun and springy combo. I make big batches of the salad for parties—turns out I'm not the only fan! —Merrijane Rice, Kaysville, Utah
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Hummus & Veggie Wrap-Up

I had a vegan wrap that was similar to this once when I stopped at a diner while on a long and arduous walk. I enjoyed it so much that I modified it to my own taste and now have it for lunch on a regular basis. Everyone at work wants to know how to make it. —Michael Steffens, Indianapolis, Indiana
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Summer Chicken Macaroni Salad

For sunny, lazy days, I make a loaded macaroni salad that’s like three salads in one. The mix of fresh veggies, sweet peaches and crunchy pistachios is a surprisingly delicious combo. —Nancy Heishman, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Bistro Beef Sandwich

Red pepper lends a nice crunch to this satisfying roast beef sandwich. If you like garlic, you'll love the zing added by the garlic-herb spread. —David Locke, Woburn, Massachusetts
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Orange Chicken Wraps

Oranges give these cool and crunchy wraps a pleasant change of pace. The tasty handhelds come together in a snap. Enjoy them as a simple weeknight meal or a quick weekend lunch. —Jamie Jones, Madison, Georgia
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Tomato & Avocado Sandwiches

I'm a vegetarian, and this is a tasty, quick and healthy lunch I could eat for every meal. At my house, we call these sandwiches HATS: hummus, avocado, tomato and shallots. These are ingredients I almost always have on hand. —Sarah Jaraha, Moorestown, New Jersey
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Turkey Guacamole Wraps

Tuck smoked turkey and creamy avocado spread into tortilla wraps and add a dash of hot sauce for a little heat. —Margee Berry, White Salmon, Washington
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Cucumber Chicken Croissants

When my friends and I were new moms, we started organizing lunchtime play groups for our kids. Here's one of the recipes I made for them. It's their hands-down favorite. —Shannon Brown, Omaha, Nebraska
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Turkey Pitas with Creamy Slaw

Pack these pockets 'o' fun for school, work or a weekend picnic—or just eat them at home. Toss in a few slices of red pepper for extra color and crunch. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Greendale, Wisconsin
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Cashew-Chicken Rotini Salad

I’ve tried many chicken salad recipes over the years, but this is my very favorite. It’s fresh, fruity and refreshing, and the cashews add wonderful crunch. Every time I serve it at a potluck or picnic, I get rave reviews—and ( always come home with an empty bowl! —Kara Cook, Elk Ridge, Utah
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Basil BLTs

Everybody goes for the bacon in this impressive sandwich. If you’ve got a garden, harvest your fresh tomatoes and basil and pile them on. —Alisa Lewis, Veradale, Washington
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Caribbean Shrimp Spring Rolls

Kids will love helping wrap up these delicate rolls filled with beautiful, bright ingredients. And you’ll love the burst of flavors in every bite. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Turkey Focaccia Club

My family thinks this sandwich is pure heaven thanks to the cranberry-pecan mayo. It's so good that they ask me to make it all year long. —Judy Wilson, Sun City West, Arizona
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Caesar Chicken Wraps

When we have chicken for dinner, I cook extra for these full-flavored roll-ups. Featuring Caesar salad dressing, cream cheese, red pepper, black olives and a hint of garlic, the wraps are perfect alongside corn on the cob and a green vegetable. —Christi Martin, Elko, Nevada

Grace Mannon
Grace is a full-time mom with a Master's degree in Food Science. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and writes about her hits (and misses) on her blog, A Southern Grace.
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