Make Ahead

9 Make-Ahead Salads & Sandwiches That Travel Like a Dream

Sad lunches, begone!

May  9, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

A packable, portable lunch is king of warm weather, in my book.

Leave the house at 8 a.m. with a salad or sandwich you can tote around reliably for hours, and your day's possibilities are endless. Impromptu park picnic to celebrate sun? No problem. Road trip upstate? Sure, and no need to stop for a bite. Spontaneous beach trip? Yes, and I'll be the one eating my tuna sandwich under a wide umbrella, with a book.

And I'm not talking sad, dented PB&Js here. I mean expertly delicious broccoli salads, curry chicken salad lettuce cups, and other stunners fit to be the star of your lunch. Here are 9 salads and sandwiches that travel so well, they deserve frequent flyer miles:

Broccoli Salad With Pesto, Apples & Walnuts

A raw broccoli salad is a make-ahead luncher's dream. This one has a pesto dressing, walnuts, and sliced apples, though any salad-friendly ingredient would make for an excellent swap. Think: crumbled cheese, citrus, cooked grains...

Egg Salad Sandwich

This three-ingredient sandwich is straightforward to prepare and packs so beautifully, someone should give it a big, shiny medal. Aim for a hard-shelled container, to protect its soft bread.

Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich

Minced shallot, curry powder, and cayenne pepper make Senior Editor Eric Kim's chicken salad deeply compelling. It's great on any bread you like, or, you can pack the salad along with lettuce cups to use as wraps.

Pan Bagnat (French Tuna Salad Sandwich)

The key to pan bagnat is crusty bread; anything too soft will get soggy as it sits. And psst: The more this tuna sandwich gets smushed, the better it tastes.

Marinated White Bean & Radicchio Salad

Wilty leaves? Not here! This sharp, marinated bean salad calls in radicchio for a never-sad make-ahead salad that's just as sturdy as it is delicious.

Slab Muffuletta Sandwich

This slab muffuletta is the perfect travel companion if you're planning lunch for a crowd. (Family road trip, anyone?) Just be sure to snag your piece, early—it'll fly.

Spanish Omelet Sandwich

"This sandwich has trekked with me on many a train trip, plane ride, and afternoon in the park," says its creator, vvvanessa. "In Spain, it usually doesn't come with the addition of allioli (the Catalonian version of aioli), and since it potentially won't travel well on longer trips, feel free to leave it off."

Curried Chickpea Sandwich

Meet the $1.89 sandwich our SVP of Brand Suzanne D'Amato swears by. Make the chickpea salad part up to three days in advance, and assemble with the greens, tomato, and pita right before serving—or, ditch the tomato and greens, and assemble in advance on crusty bread, with pickled onions.

Kale & Bulgur Salad with Brown Butter Apple Vinaigrette

Once assembled, this hearty, cheesy, brown-buttery, grains-filled number will stay good for up to five days. And by good, we mean great. Really, really great.

What's your go-to packable lunch? Let us know in the comments!
Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Isabel Davies
    Isabel Davies
  • Margy
  • Dana Ernest
    Dana Ernest
  • Ella Quittner
    Ella Quittner
Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


Isabel D. May 13, 2019
It all looks so delicious it's hard to choose which to make first. Thanks for all the recommendations and I look forward to trying all of them!
Ella Q. May 14, 2019
Thanks Isabel! Hope you enjoy!
Margy May 12, 2019
Trying to eat lighter meals and this article fits the bill. Thank you.
Ella Q. May 14, 2019
So glad it's useful to you, Margy!
Dana E. May 9, 2019
Ella - thank you! You published this at the exact time I needed it. I work half an hour from where I live, and our cafeteria is expensive, so I bring breakfast and lunch every day. It's so hard coming up with new ideas that will still be tasty after sitting in tupperware for 4 hours. These look so delicious - I think the curried chicken salad is my first one to try :)
Ella Q. May 9, 2019
So happy to hear it, Dana! Hope you enjoy the chicken salad.