Are you looking for healthy cold lunch recipes for work? If you are, then we have all the right ideas for you. Healthy cold lunch recipes are very easy to balance with your daily routine as they are easy to prepare and they don’t need any cooling process before or after cooking.
Cold lunches aren’t just lighter on your wallet, they’re healthier too! There aren’t many healthy cold lunch recipes for work out there, so I have compiled a list of my own. I hope this post inspires you to think outside the box when it comes to lunch time.
Healthy Cold Lunch Recipes For Work
WHAT ARE THE BEST COLD LUNCH IDEAS FOR WORK?
These lunches require no reheating or microwave, and are ready to eat when you are! It makes them great for school, the office, or picnic-style lunches.
First, you’ll need to find durable lunch containers, I use these grown-up lunch boxes when I make salads or bowls. Both hold up well, and the Easy Lunchboxes come with divided compartments so that you can pack wet and dry ingredients in one container without the mess.
Each of these recipes are made with fresh, healthy ingredients and require minimal prep work. They can also be made ahead of time and that’s one less thing you’ll have to take care of this week.
Buffalo Chicken Salad
A low-carb lunch, made from leftover buffalo chicken.
Recipe: Ham & Cheese Roll-ups
These low-carb roll-ups can be made 2 days ahead of time and stored in lunch containers. They pack a ton of protein and are super satiating so you won’t be grabbing for a snack around 2 p.m.
7-Layer Mexican Dip
Must-make healthy lunch dip. Layer all your favorites in a small jar and serve with chips. Oh so delicious.
This salad is perfect for anyone doing low-carb who still wants to eat good. Made with bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and homemade Ranch dressing, it’s the ideal lunch for paleo, keto, or Whole30.
Recipe: Peanut Butter Crunch Sandwich
This sandwich satisfies every sweet, salty, crunchy craving imaginable! Instead of the usual jelly, sliced apples give this sandwich a tangy, sweet flavor. I like using crunchy peanut butter for extra crunch, but you can choose any nut or nut-free butter you prefer. In case you need some nut-free butter options, I’ve got that are top-notch in taste and make “PB &J’s” possible again.
Last night’s grilled salmon and potatoes tossed with an easy Dijon vinaigrette- this is the perfect salad for those who like a little lettuce with a LOT of toppings. Traditionally, this salad is served cold, so no need to reheat the ingredients, you can assemble everything straight from the fridge into a lunch container, and you’re ready to go!
Chicken Farro Bowl
This bowl is loaded with grilled chicken breast, feta cheese, fresh veggies, all on top of cooked farro with tzatziki sauce. It’s everything you could want in a healthy, satisfying meal! Also, no reheating is necessary; they taste great cold, hot, or room temp.
Recipe: Pizza Pasta Salad
An easy way to use up leftover pasta. Mix it with your favorite pizza toppings, cheese and a light dressing for this epic cold pasta salad.
Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups
Lettuce cups are a cross between a wrap and salad. They make a refreshing meal and are perfect for using up leftovers like grilled chicken, deli turkey, and cheese. This recipe is made with an Asian salad of shredded leftover chicken, mandarin oranges, celery, and sesame seeds.
Healthy bento “lunchables” include a variety of fresh ingredients like fruits, veggies, cold cuts, crackers, etc. and they’re perfect when you want something you can prep Monday and enjoy Friday. There’s nothing to heat up or assemble; it’s merely an array of snack foods for a complete meal; here are some of my favorite compilations.
PACKING TIPS FOR COLD LUNCHES
The best part of cold lunches? There’s very little maintenance involved.
No heating or cooking is required because these lunches come together easy; here are a few tips to ensure your packed lunches stay fresh.
Keep liquids and sauces in separate containers
This is a big one! Anytime lettuce or veggies with high water content, such as spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. are involved, it’s best to keep the sauces and dressings in a separate container. Many contain sauces contain salt, which causes produce to loose moisture making a soggy sandwich or salad.
Use a small lidded container, like this one, to pack salad dressing, hummus, guacamole, ketchup, and other dips.
In case, the office fridge went out, or a work event has you brown-baggin’, throw in an ice pack. They’ll keep everything fresh and prevents anything from spoiling before lunch.
Chicken Brussels Sprouts Salad
The Almond Eater’s chicken Brussels sprouts salad is a great make-ahead lunch recipe for the whole week. As a work lunch, obviously, poached eggs don’t work so well. So I would hard-boil eggs instead.
Easy Mediterranean Chicken Wraps with Hummus
Hummus pairs beautifully with classic Mediterranean salad ingredients in The Forked Spoon’s easy Mediterranean chicken wraps with hummus. For cold work lunches, it may be easier to make it ahead of time as a salad and eat it with pita or flatbread on the side.
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.
Cold Lunch Ideas: Meal Prep Recipes When You Don’t Have A Microwave
Though something warm and cozy might be exactly what you want when it’s cold out, it’s probably just the opposite when the temperatures starts to go up. Luckily there are many cold lunch recipes making them ideal for leftovers for anyone without a microwave in their office.
Healthy Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
3. PASTA SALAD
If you’ve ever been to a BBQ (which, if you haven’t, who are you?), then you know that pasta salad doesn’t need to be hot to be great. In fact, its coldness is what makes it such an excellent counterpart to anything off the grill.
Just as there are so many different pasta recipes, there are also so many different kinds of pasta salad, so you’ll never get bored with it. You can easily change up the types of sauces, veggies, spices, and proteins you’re using without a recipe.
However, if you’d prefer using a recipe, these are some of my favorites.
Veggie Pesto Pasta With Chickpeas
Pasta Salad 4 Ways
4. GRAIN BOWLS AND SALADS ARE PERFECT FOR LUNCH
Grain bowls and salads are two of my biggest go-to’s when I don’t want to cook or reheat something. To make a grain bowl, all you have to do is pick a grain—any grain—and mix it up with your preferred veggies and proteins. I’m partial to quinoa, but farro, couscous, wild rice, and millet are all excellent choices, too.
And if you’re in the mood for salad, just use the same formula but ditch the grains. Prep all your veggies over the weekend so that they’re ready to go when you need to eat.
Asian Quinoa Salad
Greek Chicken and Veggie Make-Ahead Lunch Bowls
Basil Lime Chicken & Peach Kale Salad
5. TACOS ARE A GREAT COLD LUNCH!
Though tacos might not be the first thing you’d think of meal prepping, they’re actually ideal for the task. Of course, that’s mostly because you really don’t have to heat them up before eating them!
The key to meal prepping tacos: put your filling in your meal prep containers and pack two or three tortillas to assemble them at work. That way the tortillas don’t get soggy.
Quinoa Black Bean Tacos with Creamy Avocado Sauce
Sweet Potato Taco Meal Prep
6. MASON JAR SALADS
This type of meal is perfect for meal prep because it keeps the veggies and dressing totally separate so that nothing gets soggy, without requiring a bunch of different storage equipment. And obviously, the only way to eat them is cold.
At work, all you’ll need is a plate or bowl to eat the salad on—definitely no microwave necessary.