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Simple Make Ahead Lunch on a Loaf

5 from 1 vote

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This Lunch on a Loaf recipe is a delicious meal that is easy and simple to make. Ground beef is combined with with just a few simple ingredients, then piled on top of a half loaf of French bread, and sprinkled with cheese. You can easily make this dish ahead and have it ready for lunchtime, dinnertime, or anytime. Try this flavorful, hearty meal today!

Sliced loaf on wooden cutting board.

This Lunch on a Loaf recipe has been a family favorite for over 40 years. We’ve been making it so long, I don’t even know where the recipe originally came from.

Of course, I’ve never met a recipe I didn’t want to change, so I‘ve fussed with it a bit over the years. 🙂

The best change I made was to use my home canned hamburger meat. It tastes just as good, and I don’t have to remember to thaw meat now!

Which is awesome. Because when I get focused on something, I don’t think about anything else.

Lunch on a Loaf is great fresh out of the oven, but it’s also really good cold. So think sack lunch, potlucks, after school snacks, or even take it on a picnic!

My favorite bread for this recipe is my Soft Italian Style Bread, but any French or Italian bread will work.

Except baguettes.

Baguettes are too thin.

Baguettes would be bad.

Stay away from baguettes…

I usually keep it simple and serve this with potato chips and maybe a dill pickle spear.

I’ve also used this exact same recipe (minus the bread) as meatloaf.

And when I’m feeling particularly fancy I’ll wrapped it up in pastry and serve it with Thyme Roasted Potatoes and a sour cream mushroom sauce.

Without the bread again, of course…

Lunch on a Loaf will be a guaranteed hit anyway you choose to serve it!

Let’s go make some magic!

Lunch on a Loaf


  • 1 pint canned ground beef OR 1 pound raw
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup 3 minute oats
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 cup grated cheese, divided (I always use cheddar, but use your favorite)
  • 1/2 loaf of French bread, sliced horizontally


This is so simple, you’re going to just love how easy it is!

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix all the ingredients except 1/4 cup of cheese and the French bread in a large bowl. Make sure it’s combined really well.

All the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
all the things

Get your hands in there if you need to!

Get a piece of foil that is large enough to wrap around the bottom of the bread. And then put a piece of parchment paper on top of the foil.

Center the bread and spoon the meat mixture onto the bread.

Lunch on a loaf on parchment paper.
all evenly spread out

Make it an even layer all over, all the way to the edges.

Now all you need to do is fold the foil up around the bread. Kind of like a boat.

But leave the meat mixture uncovered. We want to cook the meat, but not burn the bread.

Foil up around the bread.
wrapped up and ready to bake

Put the Lunch on a Loaf boat on a baking sheet, then pop it into the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes.

Pull it out and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and put it back in for another 5 minutes.

Baked lunch on a loaf on baking sheet.
ready to eat!

If you are going to serve it warm, let it cool for about 5-10 minutes or so before serving.

If you are serving it later, let cool completely then slip it into a zipper bag and refrigerate.

It also freezes beautifully both before and after baking.

I’ll often make a double batch and bake one and freeze one for later.

Love to save a little time everywhere I can! 

If you want to freeze Lunch on a Loaf to bake later, it’s easy!

Mix everything up and spread it on the bread. Then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and put it in a freezer bag.

To cook, you can let it thaw or bake it frozen. Either way, put it on the parchment paper and foil and put it in a preheated oven.

If you’ve let it thaw, bake for 35 minutes then add cheese.

If it’s frozen, bake for 45 to 55 minutes then add the cheese.

So there you go, simple and easy just like I promised!

More recipes for you to enjoy!

slice of lunch on a loaf on white plate.

Lunch on a Loaf

This Lunch on a Loaf recipe can be served hot or make it ahead to serve cold. Meat, onions, and cheese baked on French bread makes a complete meal
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 slices
Calories 343 kcal


  • 1 pint canned ground beef**
  • cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup 3 minute oats
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 cup grated cheese divided
  • 1/2 loaf of French bread sliced horizontally


  • Combine all ingredients except 1/4 cup of cheese. Make sure to mix thoroughly.
  • Spoon meat mixture onto the top of the French bread, spreading it all the way to the edges.
  • Place the loaf on a piece of foil lined with parchment paper.
  • Wrap the foil up around the bread like a boat, leaving the meat mixture uncovered.
  • Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from the baking sheet and serve warm. Or refrigerate and serve cold.


** If you don’t have canned ground beef, use 1 pound of raw ground beef instead.


Serving: 1sliceCalories: 343kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 19gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 573mgPotassium: 252mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 347IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 140mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Lunch on a Loaf
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on April 10th, 2023

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