Are you looking for healthy cold lunch options? When I am stuck in a work rut and need to change things up, I tend to bring a snack or lunch with me. But if you are anything like me, you have gotten into the habit of bringing the same boring items every day. To combat this bad habit, I knew I had to shake things up.
Healthy Cold Lunch Options
Want to save money, time, and calories without sacrificing flavor? Then you’re in the right place! These 25 healthy cold lunch ideas offer all of that and more. They’re perfect for just about any situation whether you’re a swamped stay at home mom or heading into the office.
When it comes to saving money, cold lunch recipes like these are an easy win. If you normally eat lunch out, reports estimate you could save a minimum of $1,200 a year by brown bagging it! Even if you normally cook, cold foods for lunch can still save you money by slashing your utility bills. This is especially true during the summer when firing up the oven can also mean firing up your AC unit.
Warning: These healthy cold lunch ideas may cause drooling. Freebie Finding Mom is not responsible for damage done to your keyboard or computer caused by said drooling. 😉
1. Chipotle Turkey Pinwheels: Healthy cold lunch ideas, like this one, that can be scaled up to feed a crowd are always great to have on hand. Use this recipe to feed yourself, the whole office, or a horde of hungry kiddos.
2. Lemon and Dill Salmon Roll-up: Salmon is a great addition to healthy cold lunches as it’s rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids but low in fat. This particular recipe is bursting with flavor and the perfect way to use up leftover salmon from last night’s dinner.
3. Fresh Rosemary Chicken Salad: Think chicken salad can’t be healthy? Think again! Classic chicken salad gets a healthy makeover in this recipe.
4. Caprese Salad Pita Pockets: Packed with veggies and whole grains and coming in at under 350 calories, healthy cold lunch ideas don’t get much well, healthier (or tastier) than this!
5. Turkey Caesar Sandwich: Missing some of your fav takeout options? Opt for cold lunch recipes, like this one, that mimic restaurant dishes. Trust me, Subway has nothing on this tasty copycat sandwich.
6. BLT Keto Turkey Roll Ups: Cutting carbs? Try this keto friendly recipe. Once the rich flavors of avocado mayo, ripe tomatoes, and bacon hit your tastebuds you won’t even remember bread!
7. Pecan Chicken Salad Sandwiches: Chicken salad is a staple among cold lunch ideas for a reason, and this tasty twist is no exception! The fresh apples, grapes, and celery give this dish a yummy crunch you won’t soon forget.
8. Gluten Free Greek Pasta Salad: Craving healthy cold foods for lunch? Then this recipe is sure to satisfy! It’s hearty and delicious yet gluten-free, vegan, and avoids many common allergens.
9. Easy Buffalo Chicken Salad: Things are heating up thanks to this spicy salad! It’s a great way to use up leftover chicken from last night’s dinner and can easily be made Whole30 compliant.
10. Tuna Cabbage Salad: Traditional tuna salad gets a makeover in this recipe to allow it to qualify as one of the healthy cold lunch ideas. Swapping some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and adding in a liberal helping of veggies results in a tuna salad that is crisp, light, and nutritious!
11. Skinny Chicken Caesar Pitas: This recipe checks all the boxes: it’s quick, easy, and healthier than the original (with more vitamins and less fat).
12. Avocado Hummus and Tomato Sandwich: Easy cold lunch ideas don’t get much simpler than this. Seriously, only two steps stand between you and this hearty, fiber filled sandwich!
13. Shrimp Caesar Salad: Craving seafood? Avoid fried fish and shrimp from fast food places and opt for healthy cold lunch ideas like this one. Bonus: The shrimp is served cold, so you don’t have to worry about stinking up the break room at lunch time!
14. Nut Butter Banana Wrap: There are cold lunch ideas for adults AND kids, and this recipe is a perfect example! After all, who doesn’t like nut butter and bananas?
15. Salad in a Jar: This quick and easy to transport salad is almost too pretty to eat. The keyword there being almost.
16. Thermos Smoothies: Smoothies make fantastic healthy cold lunch ideas, but they can also work just as well for breakfast or a snack. They’re perfect when you need a grab and go option or are going to be stuck in a meeting at meal time! Really, the possibilities are practically endless.
17. Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap: Looking for healthy cold lunches that’ll give you the energy to power through that 3 p.m. slump? Look no further! With 33 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs, this wrap is sure to do the trick.
18. Turkey, Corn and Sun-Dried Tomato Wraps: Add an additional layer of flavor to this wrap by sprinkling in a little feta.
19. Winter Greens and Walnuts: Normally I choose to stick to really simple healthy cold lunch ideas, but trust me, this one is worth the extra effort.
Tip: Make this salad the night before to save on time and give it time to marinate, which will enrich the flavor. And if you’d like even more make ahead lunch options be sure to explore these 48 make ahead recipes.
20. Turkey Pesto Tortilla Pinwheels: Here’s another of the cold lunch recipes that can be scaled up to feed a crowd. This quick and healthier version of party pinwheels is a great option for kids and adults alike!
Quick Healthy Cold Lunch Ideas for Work
Coming up with interesting new lunches week in and week out is always challenging.
Everyone likes lunch, but no one likes to think about what to make for lunch and then actually make said lunch. As such, it’s easy to get into a boring lunch rut or start relying on less than healthy choices. Enter quick healthy cold lunch ideas for work. I’ve rounded up 50 quick, no-heat lunch ideas, perfect for packed lunches, including sandwiches, wraps, salads, and bowls. Many of these lunches are perfect for meal prep, which means you can make your entire week’s worth of lunches at the beginning of the week.
I’ve limited this round-up of quick healthy lunch ideas for work to cold lunch recipes. Personally, I love having a mix of cold and hot recipes in rotation for work lunches. But I know that cold work lunch ideas are more versatile. You never have to worry about finding a microwave, which is important when you’re pressed for time or always on the go. I do have a hot work lunches round-up, too!
Tips for packing work lunches
When you use quick healthy lunch ideas for work often, it’s worth learning how to pack a great lunch. Here are a few tips for ensuring your lunches stay crisp and flavorful.
Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad
One Little Project’s garden vegetable pasta salad is a simple, versatile recipe that you can customize as you like to suit your taste preferences and the veggies you have on hand. Feel free to switch up the pasta or substitute another grain (i.e., brown rice, quinoa) as well.
Roasted Broccoli and Farro Bowls
Gimme Some Oven’s roasted broccoli and farro bowls is one of those versatile recipes that tastes good hot or cold. It features farro, broccoli, arugula, and chickpeas, well seasoned and topped with garlic-lemon tahini dressing. It’s hard to go wrong here. For a packed work lunch, I would keep the dressing separate until serving to prevent sogginess.
Chicken and Rice Salad with Ginger-Sesame Dressing
A chicken and rice dish that’s best served room temperature or cold, what? Yes, Kristine Kitchen’s chicken and rice salad with ginger-sesame dressing is colorful and packed with flavor and made for work lunches.
Avocado Turkey Hummus Wrap
Sometimes the most basic, tried and true recipes are the best. A Sweet Pea Chef’s avocado turkey hummus wrap is no exception. There’s no reason to alter the classic recipe ingredients list here.
Israeli Couscous Salad with Strawberries, Snap Peas, & Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
The combination of ingredients in Yes to Yolk’s Israeli couscous salad is fabulous. I never would have thought to pair snap peas and strawberries. The lemon poppy salad dressing it’s well worth the effort to make everything pop with a burst of citrus.
Keto No-Cook Bento Lunchbox
There are a ton of fantastic no-cook bento lunchbox ideas that make great work lunches for adults. I chose Keto Diet’s no-cook bento lunchbox because it’s so easy and it’s packed with colorful fruits and vegetables. You can customize this concept any way you like to suit your personal tastes or what you have on hand.
Roasted Asparagus and Green Bean Salad
You know much I love roasted veggies. Roasted vegetables served cold aren’t everyone’s thing. But sometimes you just have to trust that the recipe works. This Farm Girl Cook’s roasted asparagus and green bean salad features delicious roasted veggies, topped with bacon and hard-boiled egg.
Peanut Noodle Vegetable Spring Rolls
I know you’re thinking that spring rolls don’t sound like a quick lunch idea. You do need to set aside half an hour for the prep, but then you’ll have lunch for the week. I can’t resist a good peanut sauce (it’s kind of a theme in this lunch round-up), and Mindful Avocado’s peanut noodle vegetable spring rolls are no exception.
Cranberry Chicken Salad on Apple Slices
I had a hard time narrowing down a single chicken salad recipe to include in this post. (I may have included one more.) Chicken salad is one of my go-to weekday lunches, and I’ve saved a ton of chicken salad recipes on Pinterest over the years. I had to go with Yummy Addiction’s cranberry chicken salad on apple slices. Serving the salad on apple slices is such a simple, healthy twist on this classic recipe. For a work lunch, pack a whole apple, and slice it when you’re ready for lunch.
Southwest Tuna Salad Wraps
Shared Appetite’s Southwest tuna salad wraps are a simple variation on classic tuna salad (which I love) to mix up your lunch routine once in a while. Tuna is a great base for bell pepper, black bean, corn, tomato, and avocado.
Vegetable Couscous Salad
Sugar and Charm’s vegetable couscous salad is flavorful and colorful. Made with fresh veggies, it’s topped with a delicious cumin curry dressing. Originally intended as a side dish, I would kick it up a notch with chicken or shrimp to make it a full work lunch.
Cranberry Turkey Pinwheels
I like This Silly Girl’s Kitchen’s cranberry turkey pinwheels as opposed to a more traditional turkey wrap for a work lunch because it doesn’t involve lettuce. The bite-sized pinwheels have just the right amount of kick, thanks to the cajun-spiced turkey and green onion. They pair perfectly with a green salad.
Rainbow Couscous and Tzatziki Chicken
How gorgeous is the Zested Lemon’s rainbow couscous and Tzatziki chicken? Not surprisingly, with so much color, it’s packed with nutrients. Rachel even gives instructions for packing individual servings in jars for lunch, so they don’t get soggy.