Mix some nutritious, protein-packed quinoa with veggies and delicious Mexican spices in this vegetarian Southwest Quinoa Salad.
If you’re a long-time reader, you know how much I love repurposing meals – it’s like a two-for-one! That’s why I love dinner recipes that can be easily packed in the lunch boxes for the kids (and for me at the office). In fact, most of my best, healthy lunch ideas come straight from our dinner table the night before!
Quick Southwest Quinoa Salad Lunch
This quinoa salad is made with taco spices and filled with protein and veggies. Everything is chopped up finely, and kids love the sweetness of the corn, the fresh salsa, and of course, the fact that they can eat this healthy lunch with CHIPS.
And it takes less than 30 minutes to cook- yes, please! It’s a great vegetarian dinner option that’s full of protein and nutrition from quinoa and black beans. Once everyone’s done eating, I can pack the leftovers up in lunch boxes with some fresh fruits, veggies, and tortilla chips as a treat, and we’re good to go!
How to Pack Southwest Quinoa for Lunch
If you’re prepping this salad ahead of time, it will most likely be cold in the fridge when you go to pack it for lunch. Good thing this recipe can be enjoyed chilled or warmed-up, and below I show you how to pack it both ways in a lunchbox:
Pack it warm
Warm the quinoa salad in the microwave and transfer to a thermos container and top with cheese and avocado, if desired.
Pack it chilled
Transfer the chilled quinoa salad into a lunch container and top with the cheese and avocado. Place it in an insulated lunch bag and add an ice pack to keep it fresh.
Don’t forget the dressing
Pack the dressing in a mini sauce container and drizzle over the salad prior to eating.
Learn how to make this simple recipe in the video below:
Need a lunch container or thermos to pack more recipes like this for lunch? You’ll find several of my top choices in this post.
Other Quinoa Recipes for Kids
Quinoa is high in protein, gluten-free, and makes a great replacement for rice or potatoes on your child’s plate. I love getting creative with Quinoa and finding new ways to insert it into family favorite recipes like:
- Cheesy Quinoa Bites
- Cranberry Quinoa Salad
- Mini Pizza Bites
- Quinoa Mac and Cheese
- Veggie Quinoa Salad
- Quinoa Raisin Muffins
After trying these recipes, you just might hear your kids say “more quinoa please!” for the first time ever!
For this Southwest Quinoa, sometimes I even double the recipe so I’m guaranteed leftovers. Because when I can make mealtime a little easier, I go for it!
Southwest Quinoa Salad
Mix some nutritious, protein-packed quinoa with veggies and delicious Mexican spices in this vegetarian Southwest Quinoa. Use the leftovers for lunch!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 25 mins
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Lunch
- 1 cup (173 g) quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups (470 g) water
- ¾ cup (195 g) jarred salsa
- 1 teaspoon (2.6 g) chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon (2.5 g) ground cumin
- 1 cup (130 g) frozen corn
- 1 15-ounce (425 g) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ cup (4 g) finely chopped cilantro
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- Bring the water to a boil, then stir in the quinoa, lower the heat and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes and turn off heat.
- Cover and let sit for 6 minutes – you’ll know the quinoa is ready when you see the little white “tail” of the germ around the outside edge of each seed.
- Once quinoa is done, add salsa, chili powder, and cumin, fold to combine well. Stir in the corn, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and green onions. Fold a few times until thoroughly combined.
- In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, lime juice, salt, pepper, and garlic. Pack the dressing into mini sauce containers or add it to the salad and toss to combine.
- Serve with avocado and cheese and garnish with additional cilantro, if desired.
For school lunch: Pack leftovers in a container or lunchbox. This salad is great eaten cold or at room temperature as well.
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 543
- Sugar: 9.8g
- Sodium: 1797.4mg
- Fat: 20.4g
- Saturated Fat: 7.6g
- Trans Fat: 0.3g
- Carbohydrates: 70.5g
- Fiber: 16.6g
- Protein: 24.5g
- Cholesterol: 31.9mg
Keywords: lunch ideas, southwestern quinoa salad, quinoa salad, Mexican quinoa salad