amy fischer ham and cheese

Ham and cheese roll-ups make a great lunch sandwich or heat some up for an after-school snack.

It’s back to school time for some of us. For others, it’s back to a regular work day or work week. Summer vacations are quickly coming to an end for some people. Whether packing lunches for the kids or adults in your home, finding recipes that only take minutes to prepare will definitely come in handy right now. For weekday lunches at my house that are portable enough for the lunchbox, I gravitate toward salads. I also love dips, spreads, yogurt and fruit bowls, and simple sandwiches. Really anything that tastes good and satisfies the midday void. Instead of reaching for yet another frozen dinner to heat in the microwave or going through a restaurant drive-through, try packing tasty lunches for the week ahead. These proven recipes are ideal for the busy lifestyle.

Favorite Pimiento Cheese

1 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese

½ cup finely shredded Colby-Jack cheese

½ cup finely shredded Swiss cheese

½ cup mayonnaise

4 oz. diced pimientos, drained

2 TBSP. prepared Ranch salad dressing

3 dashes hot sauce

Combine cheeses, mayonnaise, chopped pimientos, Ranch dressing, and hot sauce in a bowl. Stir well and refrigerate until ready to use. Freshly shredded cheeses work best for any pimiento cheese recipe. Note: You can stir in 2 slices fried bacon (chopped) to the pimiento cheese.

Greek Couscous Salad

1 cup Israeli couscous

Juice of one large lemon

½ cup fresh spinach, chopped

¼ tsp. garlic salt

½ TBSP. olive oil

¼ tsp. all-purpose Greek seasoning

1 TBSP. chopped dried cherries

1 TBSP. sliced almonds

3 TBSP. finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Freshly cracked black pepper

Prepare Israeli couscous according to package directions. Set aside to cool. In a bowl, toss together the lemon juice, spinach, garlic salt, olive oil, Greek seasoning, dried cherries, and almonds. Stir in the couscous, cheese, and black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Note: Can add sliced grilled chicken to the salad bowl.

Quick and Easy Hummus

1 (16 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup good quality tahini

2-4 TBSP. cold water

2 TBSP. extra-virgin olive oil

1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

½ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. parsley

½ tsp. cumin

Juice of one lemon (about 2 ½ TBSP.)

Pinch of paprika

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add the cold water as needed to blend. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides often, until creamy consistency is reached. Before serving, drizzle with some olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika, parsley, or red pepper flakes. Serve with pita bread or toasted French bread slices.

Ham and Cheese Bread

1 (11 oz.) can refrigerated French bread dough

¾ lb. deli sliced ham

10-12 Provolone cheese slices

6 TBSP. salted butter

1 ½ TBSP. light brown sugar

1 TBSP. Worcestershire sauce

1 TBSP. Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1 TBSP. poppy seeds

Dash or two of ground black pepper

1 ½ TBSP. finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Unroll the dough on a parchment lined pan. Spread the dough out evenly across the pan. Layer the ham and then the cheese slices evenly over the dough. Roll up the dough lengthwise and seal the edges. Slice the roll into 14 slices and place in a lightly greased 9x13 baking pan. In a saucepan, whisk the butter, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder, poppy seeds, and black pepper over medium heat, until bubbly and smooth. Pour the mixture over the tops of the rolls. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm or wrap in foil and refrigerate, then reheat later for a quick lunch sandwich. Note: I recommend using Pillsbury Original French Bread Loaf, but you could use refrigerated pizza crust dough.

Summer Salad with Oranges and Champagne Dressing

2 cups salad mix (baby greens, spring mix, or any mix you prefer)

2 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

1/4-1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

½ cup creamy feta cheese, crumbled

¼ cup chopped pecans

Dressing:

5 TBSP. fresh orange juice

3 ½ tsp. champagne vinegar

4 tsp. honey

1 TBSP. canola oil

1/8 tsp. dried mustard powder

1/8 tsp. Kosher salt

1/16 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

Place all salad ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients until completely emulsified. For meal prepping purposes, refrigerate the greens, dried cranberries or cherries, feta cheese and nuts together in a bowl; add the orange slices and prepared dressing to the salad right before serving.

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