Tasty Lunch Ideas for Men at Work
When you have a busy work schedule, it’s not always easy to get your hands on a filling, nutritious lunch.
Eating healthy takes effort and planning — and often gets put on the back burner during hectic workweeks. Plus, if you have limited breaks during the workday, you have less time to eat a complete meal.
That’s why men who work long hours often rely on fast food, highly processed snacks like chips and cookies, or takeout meals to fill them up on their lunch breaks.
While these options are convenient and don’t require planning, they aren’t always the most nutritious lunch choices and can put a dent in your wallet as well.
Fortunately, you can choose from numerous healthy and delicious lunch options, including meal-prep-friendly recipes and deli options.
Although men have varying dietary needs and may follow specific diets to manage health conditions, a nutritious, balanced meal should generally contain sources of protein, fat, and fiber.
Protein is the most filling macronutrient, so it’s especially important to add one or more protein sources to your lunch. This will keep you full between meals, giving you the energy you need to power through your workday
Fibrous foods such as vegetables and fruits are also filling and provide benefits for gut health and weight management
Despite fiber’s importance, most American men consume only half the currently recommended fiber intake of 38 grams per day for adult men ages 19–50. Low fiber intake may increase your risk of health conditions like colon cancer, constipation, and heart disease
Additionally, lunches with nutrient-dense ingredients can help men meet their needs for vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds, some of which are rare in modern diets high in processed foods.
For example, studies show that men may not consume enough of certain essential nutrients, such as magnesium and vitamin C. Deficiency in vitamin C is commonly related to low fruit and vegetable intake .
Insufficient nutrient intake may impair overall health and energy levels and even increase your risk of several health conditions .
However, it’s easy to boost your nutrient intake by making a few small changes to your diet, such as switching to a healthier lunch option.
When planning a healthy lunch, consider the different macronutrients and how you can combine them to form a complete meal.
Here are some sources of fat, protein, and fiber-rich carbs that make great choices for lunch:
- Fiber-rich carbs: vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains like quinoa and farro
- Protein: chicken, fish, shellfish, turkey, lentils, tofu, and eggs
- Healthy fats: olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocado, full fat Greek yogurt, and goat cheese
Creating a meal with whole, nutritious ingredients like the ones above can help you meet your nutrient needs while providing a convenient, delicious, work-friendly lunch.
If you’re new to cooking or stumped over what to order at your local deli, try choosing an option from each category above.
For example, if you’re trying to find a healthier alternative to your go-to fried chicken sandwich and chips at the deli, try creating a hot plate with grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and a vegetable mixture.
The following meal ideas are balanced options that contain a variety of nutritious ingredients. You can modify most of the recipes and meal ideas below to suit many diets, including vegetarian and low carb.
Planning your lunches ahead of time is a good idea for many reasons.
For example, prepping your lunches at home using simple recipes may improve the quality of your diet and save you significant amounts of time and money (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
Meal prepping may also help you reach or maintain a healthy body weight. That’s because people who cook more meals at home tend to eat fewer overall calories and make healthier food choices than those who eat more meals outside the home (10Trusted Source).
If you’re new to meal prep, start by prepping a few lunches on your days off. You can even make a larger batch that covers both lunch and dinner for a few days.
Here are several options for meal-prep-friendly lunches that are perfect to bring to work.
1. Greek Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
These Greek Chicken Meal Prep Bowls from Damn Delicious are a perfect choice for those new to meal prep.
This dish is packed with healthy ingredients, takes just 1 hour to prep, and requires minimal cooking skills.
It contains plenty of protein from the chicken and the Greek yogurt-based tzatziki sauce. It’s also loaded with ingredients that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, such as brown rice and veggies.
2. Chipotle Turkey Sweet Potato Chili
If you’re looking for a hearty lunch that’s perfect for cold weather, look no further than this Chipotle Turkey Sweet Potato Chili from the Real Food Dietitians.
This chili is bean-free, which makes it a good choice for men who don’t eat beans. Of course, if you like beans, you can always add them.
Despite being bean-free, this dish has plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals thanks to the turkey, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. This recipe is perfect for slow cookers and Instant Pots. You can make a large batch and store it in the fridge or freezer for a quick lunch option.
3. Mediterranean Salmon
Salmon is an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and minerals such as potassium and selenium, which are especially important to men’s health.
Many men’s diets are low in potassium. Because it plays an essential role in blood pressure regulation, getting too little potassium may increase your risk of heart disease (11Trusted Source).
Salmon is also high in selenium, which functions as an antioxidant and protects against cellular damage. According to research, higher blood levels of selenium may help reduce your risk of prostate cancer (12Trusted Source).
This easy Mediterranean Salmon recipe from Fit Foodie Finds combines salmon with fiber-rich Greek salad and a side of couscous. It’s a perfect choice for meal prep.
4. Stuffed sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great choice for a filling lunch because they’re easy to prepare, go well with numerous other foods, can be baked ahead of time, and are a great base for meal-prep dishes.
This root veggie is also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, and manganese, as well as fiber (13Trusted Source).
Check out these plant-based stuffed sweet potato recipe ideas from Love & Lemons or create your own dish by loading a baked sweet potato with ingredients such as beans, chicken, and roasted vegetables.
5. Grain bowls
Grain bowls are a go-to for many meal-prep enthusiasts because they’re easy to make and extremely versatile.
Start by cooking a large batch of a grain of your choice, such as brown rice, quinoa, or buckwheat. Then prepare other fiber- or protein-rich ingredients to create a delicious bowl that you can take to work.
Here are a few grain bowl recipes that are sure to hit the spot come lunchtime:
- Ginger Chicken Power Bowls. A creamy lime dressing tops chicken, vegetables, quinoa, and other tasty ingredients.
- 30-Minute Greek Shrimp Grain Bowl. This recipe combines marinated shrimp with veggies and a lemon garlic yogurt sauce.
- Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl. This vegan-friendly grain bowl is high in plant protein but can also be topped with a hard-boiled egg or two if you want more protein.
SUMMARYMeal prep can save you time and even improve certain aspects of health. The balanced recipes above are meal-prep-friendly and make a smart lunch choice for men.
For days when you don’t have time to prepare lunch at home, you can build a healthy lunch at a deli or restaurant by paying attention to nutritious, filling ingredients.
Here are some meal ideas you can order on the go.
6. Deli or grocery hot lunch
Most delis and grocery stores have numerous hot prepared foods.
When building a lunch from a hot food bar, create a balanced meal by combining a protein source with a non-starchy vegetable and a fiber-rich carb source such as a starchy veggie or grain.
Men who are following lower carb diets can simply increase the serving size of non-starchy vegetables and protein and choose a smaller portion of carb-rich ingredients or none at all.
Here are some combinations you can try:
- roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, and a side salad
- turkey breast, a grain salad, and roasted broccoli
- black beans over brown rice and vegetables
7. Salad bars
Some grocery stores and restaurants offer salad bars, which make for a convenient lunch option.
Salad bar options vary significantly, but most offer several types of greens, grains, and salad toppings.
Choosing a salad for lunch can help you increase your intake of vegetables such as leafy greens, as well as other healthy foods like beans and seeds. However, a salad needs to be filling and contain enough calories to be considered a healthy lunch option.
When building a salad, choose a base of greens like spinach or mixed greens, then a protein source like hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, or lentils. Next, add toppings like roasted veggies, sunflower seeds, and a bit of cheese.
If possible, steer clear of sugary dressings such as honey mustard and raspberry vinaigrette and instead top your salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or a low sugar dressing of your choice.
Wholesome Work Lunches You Can Pack In The Morning
When it comes to work lunches, it seems the only thing people bring are salads — which, don’t get me wrong, are great — but sometimes you want a little something more.
So we rounded up our favorite make-ahead lunch recipes that are definitely not salads.
1. Meal-Prep Pesto Chicken & Veggies
2. Freezer Prep Breakfast Burritos
3. Portobello Fajita Bowls
4. Chickpea Shawarma Sandwiches
5. Southwestern Cream Cheese Chicken Wraps
6. Onigirazu (Rice Sandwich)
7. Hoisin Chicken Lettuce Wraps
8. Chicken Burrito Bowl
9. Lemon Herb Mediterranean Pasta Salad
10. Italian Chicken Wrap
11. Cold Sesame Noodles With Crunchy Vegetables
40 fast work lunches for when you can’t handle another salad
Recipes designed to be made the night before and enjoyed as leftovers the next day at work.
Lunch box chicken pop tarts
Great served hot or warm, these chicken pop tarts make great work or school lunches.
Kecap manis chicken wraps
Chook gets a second look in rice paper wrappers for the prefect leftovers to lunch box meal.
Gorgonzola, pear and walnut hand pies
These pies are great fresh and just as good the next day for lunch, so be sure to make extra!
Beef, beer and bacon spaghetti
This is one trifecta we’ll always back, with all the favourite essentials in one dish. Dinner is served, just add beer.
A pasta dish that easily becomes a kid-friendly slice.
Pork and sweet potato souvlaki
Pork salad gets wrapped up as a souvlaki for the perfect lunch box treat.
Prosciutto, cheddar and polenta frittata
With plenty of cheese and delicious prosciutto, this midweek meal is one the whole family will love. It’s also makes for perfect lunch leftovers.
Shannon Bennett’s wild mushroom spaghetti
This wild mushroom spaghetti by Shannon Bennett is a quick and easy mid-week recipe guaranteed to please the entire family.
Ricotta and parmesan lasagne
This simple lasagne bianco, made with a creamy ricotta bechamel sauce, is divine when mixed with slow-cooked lamb, or just by itself. Either way, serve with a fresh salad.
Beer and bacon mac ‘n’ cheese
“This beer-infused mac ‘n’ cheese is the ultimate weeknight comfort food. Serve any leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg,” says Warren Mendes.
Healthy turmeric and coconut fish curry
Whiting is a delicate fish that requires minimal cooking and suits the gently spiced flavours of this easy dish.
Chopped chilli chicken stir fry
Which came first? Chicken and egg come together in this easy weeknight fix.
Stir-fried char siu pork mince with broccolini
This speedy stir-fry is full of fabulous Asian flavours.
Indian-style lamb and eggplant pizzas
These Indian-spiced pizzas are perfect for a night on the couch.