Sick of sandwiches? Need fresh, healthy lunch ideas? Whether or not you pack lunches or eat lunches at home, I believe we can all use some new, easy, and quick lunch ideas. Recipes that can be made ahead of time and pulled out for immediate use? Even better. Follow along with this Make-Ahead Lunch Box series – and share your ideas too!
What’s fun about this recipe for Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad is that you can add veggies to your liking. Don’t like sweet peppers? Add extra cucumbers. Don’t like cucumbers? Add extra carrots. Don’t like carrots? Oh, come on. Surely we can come up with some vegetables you like. :)
Feel free to switch out the ham for chicken, take out the cheese if you need to go dairy free, and stick with brown rice pasta if you need to eat gluten free. See how accommodating this meal is?
Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad
24 ounces whole wheat or brown rice pasta
1 pound ham, cut into chunks
8 ounces cheddar or Colby jack cheese, cut into chunks
16 ounces frozen peas (uncooked)
4 cups chopped veggies of your choice (green, red, yellow, and orange peppers; onion, tomato, cucumbers, carrots)
sea salt to taste
4 Tablespoons Italian Salad Dressing
1 1/2 cup Ranch Salad Dressing
Cook pasta until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. In a large bowl, stir together cooked pasta, ham, cheese, peas, and chopped veggies. Toss with Italian Salad Dressing and salt. Stir in Ranch Salad Dressing until coated. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 8-10 main dish servings. (<— That is a great, big bowl full.)
To prepare for the lunch box:
Scoop salad into containers with lids. (I like using Pyrex bowls with lids like these or like these.) Store individual containers in the refrigerator until packing for a lunch. Be sure to pack an ice pack in the lunch box to keep the salad cold!
Side dish ideas:
- Fresh fruit like cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries
- Hard boiled eggs
- Homemade Chewy Granola Bars
- Raspberry Lemon Cream Cups – recipe coming soon!
I love that this pasta salad is a full meal all by itself – with whole grain pasta, meat, cheese, and lots of veggies! I love even more that it can be put together ahead of time and pulled out as needed.