Students aren’t the only eaters who need lunchtime inspiration now and then.

Plenty of adults bring their own lunches to work, and we can fall into the same ruts as our kids, eating exclusively last night’s leftovers or the same salad day after day. To inspire your midday meals for the next few weeks, here are three lunch-friendly ideas that you can make ahead, adapt to your tastes and enjoy even if you don’t have a microwave handy.

Start the school year with healthier eating by making a few simple changes

Soba Noodle Kit With Bok Choy and Teriyaki Tofu

The salad bar tofu at a very popular grocery chain was my first exposure to truly delicious sticky tofu. In this homemade version, teriyaki sauce creates a deep-red veneer on the outside of thin slabs of tofu when baked, doing double duty as the soba noodle dressing. If I’m eating this lunch at home, I add everything to a bowl, where I attempt (in private) to tackle it with chopsticks — messy but good. This is a cold noodle dish, so there’s no need to reheat it, unless you’d like to.

There’s a lot of water in tofu, even the extra-firm varieties. When you press out some of that water, the tofu takes on a meatier texture that’s ready to absorb any marinade or sauce you add to it, infusing it with flavor. To press tofu (extra-firm varieties only: medium-firm, medium, soft and silken varieties are too delicate), drain any water from the package, then wrap the tofu in a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and place it on a large serving plate. Place a small cutting board on top of the tofu, then weigh it down with a large can of tomatoes or anything else that will put pressure on it. Press the tofu for 30 minutes to 3 hours, then remove the weight and cutting board, unwrap the tofu, and discard the water on the plate. Your tofu is now ready to be marinated, sauced, baked, grilled or fried — you name it! There are also commercial tofu presses available, but I don’t own or use one.

— Allison Day

For the teriyaki tofu:

1 (12-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, pressed, cut into 12 thin triangles or rectangles

1/4 cup gluten-free hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

For the soba noodles:

2 (6 1/2-ounce) bundles soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)

6 baby bok choy, halved

1 cup shelled edamame (defrosted if frozen)

2 teaspoons sesame seeds (any color)

For the teriyaki tofu, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; line the tofu up on the parchment. In a large bowl, whisk the hoisin, vinegar, miso, water, sesame oil and garlic until combined. Spoon 2/3 of the sauce onto the tofu, turning to coat both sides; if a little pools on the parchment, that’ll get nice and sticky in the oven, for glazing after baking. Bake for 10 minutes, flip and bake for 10 minutes longer, until it is sticky and appears shellacked. Spoon any caramelized bits from the parchment while it is still warm.

For the soba noodles, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package directions, until tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Add the noodles to the large bowl along with remaining 1/3 of the teriyaki sauce, tossing gently to combine.

For the bok choy, in a medium saucepan with a splash of water, steam the bok choy until tender and bright green, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

To assemble, add the tofu, noodles, bok choy and edamame to each of 4 containers or bento boxes. Seal everything up and refrigerate until you are ready to take it with you.

If you are taking this dish to work, keep it in the refrigerator or with a cooler pack in your lunch bag until you are ready to enjoy it. To serve it, grab a bite from each compartment, getting a different taste and texture every time. Or, toss all the components in a bowl and eat.

— From “Modern Lunch: +100 Recipes for Assembling the New Midday Meal” by Allison Day (Random House, $24.95)

Roast Cabbage Slaw Bento

I almost accidentally discovered how good cabbage is roasted. I’d been looking at “broiled cabbage” recipes online but they were all for big wedges of cabbage, which seemed too time-consuming for an everyday recipe. Instead, I sliced my cabbage really thin, like a slaw, and roasted it spread thinly over a large baking sheet. Since that moment, it has been on repeat in our house! The heat changes the cabbage into something much sweeter and full of umami, and the small pieces of lemon add a surprise aromatic burst to every few bites. I started adding in cooked garbanzo beans or tofu too, to make it into a simple weekday meal. You could serve the cabbage with avocado wrapped in a tortilla or a sheet or nori to make a wrap.

— Sara Kiyo Popowa

For the roast cabbage slaw:

1/2 medium (about 10 1/2 ounces) red cabbage, finely shredded

1 3/4 cups cooked garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed, if using canned)

1 small, tart apple, coarsely grated

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon

1 wedge of that same lemon, cut into thin slices

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds and/or cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules, optional

To assemble:

1 portion (3 ounces) dry soba noodles

1/3 batch roast cabbage slaw

2 to 3 little gem lettuce leaves

1/4 avocado, flesh scooped out or sliced

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Blueberries, to taste

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a big, open sheet rather than a high-edged pan or casserole dish.

Pile all the ingredients in the middle of the sheet and combine with your hands, then spread thin — you want the ingredients to be minimally overlapping, so they get a chance to dehydrate a little. Roast on the highest shelf in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until the cabbage is slightly charred at the edges and the garbanzo beans have a little tan.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then use the existing parchment paper to wrap around the mixture, so you have a neat package. This keeps the moisture and flavor in, and saves washing up an oily storage container later. Once cool, store the package in the refrigerator (in a bowl).

To assemble the lunch: Cook the soba according to the package instructions. Drain in a colander, cool completely under cold running water, then let them drip-dry for a few minutes, or instantly spin-dry them in a sturdy salad spinner. Place the soba in your bento box. Push them to one side and add the lettuce and a portion of the cabbage slaw in the remaining space. Add the avocado and spoon a mound of sesame onto the noodles. Finish with a scatter of blueberries. Close your box and pack in a bento bag or furoshiki with a fork or chopsticks. Serves 4.

— From “Bento Power: Brilliantly Balanced Lunchbox Recipes” by Sara Kiyo Popowa (Kyle Books, $22.99)

Pasta With Cauliflower, Sausage and Big Breadcrumbs

If you’ve had orecchiette with broccoli and sausage, you can imagine what this tastes like. Because cauliflower is sweeter than broccoli, I usually choose hot sausage for contrast. I’m pretty into the starch-on-starch boldness of serving coarse lemony breadcrumbs on top of chewy pasta; use day-old or days-old bread, torn from the inside of the loaf.

— Carla Lalli Music

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter

2 cups coarse torn breadcrumbs (1/4-inch pieces)

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound hot and/or sweet Italian sausage meat

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 pound cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces

1 pound rigatoni or orecchiette

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano, plus more for serving

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat until foaming. Add torn bread, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing, until golden brown and toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer breadcrumbs to a medium bowl or plate, add lemon zest and parsley, and toss to combine.

Wipe out skillet and return to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and when shimmering, add sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break into 1- to 2-inch pieces and cook, undisturbed, until dark golden brown on underside, 5 to 7 minutes. Use the spoon to scrape up sausage, then toss quickly to get a little heat on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate. Add garlic to drippings in pan, remove from heat and stir to coat. There should be enough residual heat to soften the garlic almost immediately. Set skillet aside.

Add cauliflower to boiling water and cook until tender all the way through but not mushy, 4 to 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or mesh spider to transfer to skillet with garlic and stir to coat with oil.

Add pasta to same pot of boiling water and set a timer for 2 to 3 minutes less than package instructions. (It should be very al dente and will finish cooking in the sauce.) Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer pasta to skillet with cauliflower. Add browned sausage and return skillet to medium heat. Cook, tossing and adding spoonfuls of pasta water into mixture, until pan sauce starts to cling to noodles.

Add Parmigiano and continue to cook, tossing and moistening with pasta water as needed, until cheese is melted and pan sauce is glossy and abundant. Add lemon juice and half of reserved breadcrumbs and toss to combine. Serve pasta with remaining breadcrumbs on top and more Parmigiano on the side. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

— From “Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes To Make You a Great Cook” by Carla Lalli Music (Clarkson Potter, $32.50)