Busy weekdays have got nothing on these hearty, last-minute sandwiches. From chicken salad to veggie sammies, these adult-friendly, packable lunches are actually worth getting excited about. Get ready for coworker envy, because they're all going to be salivating over your new-and-improved sandwich game.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane
Updated August 07, 2017
Credit: Sara Tane

Just because you’re not *technically* embarking on a new year of academia does not mean that you can’t get in on the back-to-school action. The whole “adult-ing” thing can get real monotonous, real fast, so it’s not a bad idea to start spicing up the day-to-day with mouth-watering sandwiches that you can easily pack for lunch. Sure, it’s not the same when it’s not sealed with love inside a brown paper bag and accompanied by a handwritten love note from Mom, but it will surely do the trick.

There are several important factors that are key to achieving to a hearty, low-effort, and packable sammie. First, you shouldn’t have to turn on your oven. Sure, some melted cheese action or olive-oil toasted bread is delicious, but that is not in the deck of cards for a workday morning. Go ahead and use those oven-cooked leftovers from dinner the night before, but let’s be real—none of us have the time or the desire to get the oven going first thing in the morning. Just, no. Second, you shouldn’t use cold cuts. Yes, I know this might be a knife to heart given that they’re so simple and affordable (plus, the nostalgia!), but now that you’ve moved on from those tacky Lunchables and you’re an adult, you deserve better. Not to go all lecture-mode on you, but these cuts of meats are loaded with a slew of chemicals and preservatives, so let’s aim to steer clear.

Third, there is no shame in shortcut ingredients. Store-bought spreads and hummus, pre-chopped veggies, rotisserie chickens—they’re all life-savers. Buy them. Fourth and lastly, there has to be a happy balance of wet and dry, and crunchy and chewy ingredients. This way, when you tuck away your lovely sando in aluminum foil, where it will sit for a couple hours before you break for lunch, all the components marry in a way that won’t result in a soggy, moist disaster, but it also won’t be bone dry. This fourth factor is the most tricky of them all, and might involve a certain level of trial-and-error before you arrive at Packed Sandwich Nirvana. The great (and f*cking terrible) thing about packing lunch as an adult is that there’s always tomorrow. Here’s some of our favorite packable sandwiches that meet all of the above requirements, and hopefully yours, too.

Avocado Marinated Zucchini and Veggie Sandwich

Avocado and Marinated Zucchini Veggie Sandwich image
| Credit: Photo: Kelsey Hansen; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson; Food Styling: Adam Dolge

Avocado and Marinated Zucchini Veggie Sandwich image Photo: Kelsey Hansen; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson; Food Styling: Adam Dolge

Store-bought hummus and jarred roasted red peppers save you a ton of time while adding bright, exciting flavor to a crisp veggie sandwich. Don’t let the raw zucchini freak you out—doused with a generous drizzle of olive oil and left to marinate in your lunch bag for a couple hours, this fibrous veggie loses some of its raw crunch and makes for a light, refreshing sandwich topper.

Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich

Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich image
| Credit: Photo: Kelsey Hansen; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson; Food Styling: Adam Dolge

Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich image Photo: Kelsey Hansen; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson; Food Styling: Adam Dolge

Because every decent human on this planet knows that pesto makes everything better, we went ahead and tossed it in with shredded rotisserie chicken. Adorned with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, this weekday workhorse lunch is a must for caprese-lovers. We opted for a fresh, homemade version, but if you’re not feeling it, then you better march your a$$ into the grocery store, buy that pre-made pesto, and don’t even think about looking back. Your coworkers are going to be jealous of your impressive lunch, regardless.

Beet, Apple, and Goat Cheese Sandwich with Avocado

Credit: Sara Tane

Sara Tane

For a filling vegetarian option, this is your new go-to. Crunchy Granny Smith apples, thinly-sliced beets, and matchstick carrots provide a crunchy backbone, while creamy goat cheese and avocado slices balance out the sandwich. A little drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil softens up the components ever so slightly so that none of your cranky desk neighbors can complain about excessive crunching. Bye, haters.

Tahini Chicken Salad Sandwich

Credit: Sara Tane

Sara Tane

For a non-traditional yet totally scrumptious chicken salad, all you need is a spoonful of tahini, Greek yogurt, and some shredded rotisserie chicken. Like any trusted consumer of sandwiches would, we topped ours with red onion, tomatoes, and greens, but feel free to dress up or dress down the sammie as you so desire. This nutty sesame spread adds a complex dimension to an easy, last-minute lunch that will have you keeping this concoction on repeat.