Keep reading to learn how to prep it ahead plus all the tips for keeping it fresh in the lunchbox.
Easy School Lunch Idea: Cobb Pasta Salad
This Cobb Pasta Salad is everything you love in the classic salad turned into a hearty, kid-favorite school lunch you can easily prep ahead.
Another bonus about this pasta salad is that it’s great to make at the end of the week when you have leftover deli cuts, hard-boiled eggs, or cooked pasta from lunches and dinner earlier in the week.
Keep it simple using what you have on hand and pack Ranch or your favorite dressing to toss and enjoy a filling and healthy meal kids will praise about!
What is in Cobb Pasta Salad
Pasta, veggies, and protein make this Cobb Pasta Salad a balanced school lunch that promises to become a go-to at your house!
This salad includes:
- Pasta: macaroni or shells.
- Grape tomatoes: a classic Cobb salad ingredient to add freshness and nutrition.
- Bacon: deliciously cooked and chopped!
- Deli meat: chopped ham and turkey.
- Hard-boiled eggs: check this post to see how to cook easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs.
- Cheese: I added cheddar, but any other cheese you have on hand works.
- Avocado: optional for extra creaminess and nutrition.
- Ranch dressing: or your favorite homemade or store-bought salad dressing.
You’ll find the measurements in the recipe card below.
How to make Cobb Pasta Salad
To make this Cobb Pasta Salad you just need to cook the pasta and add the toppings. The result is a nutritious school lunch ready to eat or to store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Here’s the step-by-step:
- Cook the pasta
Cook the macaroni pasta according to the package directions. Once ready, drain the water out and rinse with cold water. Transfer the macaroni to a large bowl.
- Add toppings
To the macaroni, add the grape tomatoes, chopped bacon, ham, turkey, egg, and cheese. Add the ranch dressing and toss to combine. Since the salad will be coated with Ranch, the diced avocado won’t be as noticeable once it browns. Otherwise, omit it from the recipe.
Cover and refrigerate the pasta salad for two hours or up to 3 days.
Check out how this pasta salad is made:
How to Pack Cobb Pasta Salad for School Lunch
This is one of those amazing recipes you can make ahead of time and store in the fridge for packed lunches. Place a serving of the pasta salad in a chilled thermos or lunch container, cover, and pack into the lunch bag along with an ice pack if needed.
Check these pro tips for saving time and packing this Cobb Pasta Salad school lunch properly every time:
Cooked pasta storage tip
Toss plain cooked pasta with olive oil to prevent it from becoming sticky. Once coated in olive oil, refrigerate it for up to 5 days.
Make it flavorful
Take plain pasta salad from good to great by tossing it with Ranch, Italian dressing, or your favorite vinaigrette.
Once you add the other ingredients to the pasta, most pasta salads can be made up to 3 days ahead. This is convenient and also allows the pasta to have more flavor.
Pasta salads can be stored inside a traditional lunch container, with compartments or without, or inside a thermos if you want to keep it chilled.
Add more nutrition
You can pack this tasty school lunch with extra veggies, fruits, or epic snacks such as these Chocolate Energy Bites, homemade cheese crackers, or wheat thins. If you do so, place them in a separate container or compartment so everything remains fresh and intact.
Cobb Pasta Salad School Lunch
- 8 oz macaroni pasta, or shells
- ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 slices bacon, cooked & chopped
- 4 slices ham, chopped
- 4 slices turkey, chopped
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
- ⅓ cup cheddar cheese
- 1 avocado, diced (optional)
- ⅓ cup Ranch dressing
- Cook the macaroni pasta according to the package directions. Once ready, drain the water out and rinse with cold water. Transfer the macaroni to a large bowl.
- To the macaroni, add the grape tomatoes, chopped bacon, ham, turkey, egg, and cheese. Add the ranch dressing and toss to combine. Since the salad will be coated with Ranch, the diced avocado won't be as noticeable once it browns. Otherwise, omit it from the recipe.
- Cover and refrigerate the pasta salad for two hours or up to 3 days.
- To pack for lunch, fill a lunch box with some of the Cobb pasta salad, along with an ice pack if needed.