Looking for a variety of healthy lunch meals that you can take on the go? In this article, I will introduce you to some recipes which fit into a healthy lunch meal plan. When it comes to eating well, lunch can be a real challenge. Workplace lunches are often packed with sugar and preservatives due to the convenience of grab-and-go options. Fast food restaurants also offer few options for dieters who want to avoid sodium, fat, and additives like MSG. Ever wonder how to make a healthy lunch at work? Wondering what you can eat that won’t leave you feeling heavy and lethargic halfway through the day? Start by following the tips below:
Healthy Lunch Meals
I try to pack my lunch for work as often as possible. But there have been weeks in which I buy it, ignoring my dwindling bank account. Because, truth be told, I’m only human and going through the effort of thinking up ideas for lunch at work and making my own food seems like a lot at 7 AM.
Yes, this is even though I know it’s good for my wallet and for my health. And yes, even though I know that the healthier you are, the more productive you are. (Nothing like a junk food coma to slow you down hours before an important deadline.)
So, in effort to break my bad habit (and yours!), I’ve put together a list of 52—52!—ideas to inspire you. And because I’m just like you when it comes to making excuses, I stuck to three rules when selecting each recipe:
1. It Needs To Be Cost-Effective
There are recipes out there that look and taste great, but the ingredients required are absurdly expensive. And here you were trying to save money. If you’re buying them in bulk and can use them for several different meals, that’s great. But if not, you might as well have just grabbed it from the restaurant down the street.
2. It Needs To Be Easy to Make
Just as you want to keep the cost down, you also want to keep the time it takes to make it low as well. Nobody wants to spend hours every night preparing lunch for the next day. That’s a habit just asking to be broken. So, with the exception of slow cooker options, they’re also pretty fast.
3. It Needs To Be (Somewhat) Exciting
No, I don’t think every lunch needs to be a gourmet meal. And I don’t think every bite needs to be the most mind-blowing sensory experience ever. But you also don’t want to pack a lunch where you’re just like, “Eh, I’m just not in the mood for that.” And then you pretend you didn’t bring it and you go buy a better one (admit it—you’ve done it).
So, check out the list below for some lunch ideas that are bound to make you the most enviable person at work and prevent you from breaking the bank.
Easy Lunch Ideas When You Want A Salad
So, here’s a trick: Do all your chopping and dicing at once. You can prepare bulk amounts of the salads below and then save them in an airtight container in order to keep it fresh all week. Or, take it one step further and save them in several smaller portions you can just plop in your lunch bag on the way out the door. Efficiency at its finest, folks. (Another bonus tip: Store the dressing separately to avoid it making any of your leafy ingredients soggy.)
1. Asian Quinoa Salad
This salad’s not only delicious, but it’s pretty, too. If the number of ingredients in the dressing overwhelms you (understandably), pick up something similar to this Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette.
2. Avocado Chicken Salad
This chicken salad has four ingredients. Four! Plus avocado. Point made. You can also make it into a sandwich or a wrap, which makes this quite the versatile recipe.
3. Smashed Avocado Chickpea Salad
A vegetarian twist on the salad above, this one uses chickpeas instead of chicken, so you can still get a great source of protein. Smash away!
4. Brussels Sprouts Salad With Apples, Pecans, and Manchego
Brussels sprouts are a great alternative to lettuce for a greens-based salad (maybe because they look like tiny heads of cabbage). And as someone who studied abroad in Spain, I can tell you that Manchego cheese is the best. Want a hack for this salad? Many stores sell sprouts that are already chopped and bagged, meaning you can just open and dump into a bowl.
5. Cherry-Almond Farro Salad
Farro’s a grain with a ton of fiber and will help to fill you up (so you aren’t ravenous and stealing from the office candy drawer 30 minutes later). And the cherries are the perfect sweet and tart addition.
6. Chopped Kale, Farro, And Chickpea Salad
This combination of foods is the perfect protein and fiber powerhouse. While the recipe calls for red miso paste, you can easily substitute another dressing for that (because who has red miso paste?). But if you do have it, go for it!
7. Chorizo And Tomato Salad
A reminder that simple doesn’t always equal boring. The chorizo adds some smoke and spice to really make this salad pop.
8. Lentil Salad With Goat Cheese
You had me at goat cheese.
9. Soba Salad With Honey Ginger Dressing
It’s a salad made with—wait for it—noodles. Plus, if you want, you can reuse that dressing you bought for the Asian Quinoa Salad.
10. Strawberry Fields Salad
Go ahead. Tell me you aren’t singing the Beatles’ song right now. (Straw-BER-ry Fi-iields For-EV-ah.) It’s not a requirement to listen to it while you’re eating this scrumptious salad. But it should be.
11. Succotash Salad
This salad’s fun to say and yummy to eat. Don’t stress about shaving the kernels of corn from the actual cobs. You can use frozen or canned corn to expedite your way to a tasty dish.
12. Taco Salad (In A Jar)
Sure, the jar is cute, but the best part about it is that it’s holding a yummy yet healthy taco salad inside. You can also do this with a burrito!
13. Three Bean Salad
This recipe has three main ingredients, and they’re all beans. Talk about easy. And fibrous. Beans—they’re good for your heart and for your lunch.
14. Watermelon, Tomato, And Cheese Salad
You’ll be pleasantly surprised about how well watermelon and cheese goes together. And when summer comes around, you’ll be craving something this refreshing.
Sandwich Ideas For Lunch At Work
Sometimes you just want to eat your lunch with your hands. Sandwiches are a handheld favorite, but your go-to can end up being a snore. Take yours to the next level by using one of the alternatives below. Trust me: It won’t leave you wishing you had chosen something else.
And for those that may not hold together well during your commute, pack the outsides (i.e., the wrap) and the insides (i.e., whatever you put in it) separately and throw it together when you get to work.
15. Apple Sandwiches With Almond Butter And Granola
Talk about non-traditional. You’ve probably spread peanut butter (or almond, or cashew, or [insert nut here]) on your apple slices before, but have you ever thought of making your apple into a sandwich? Yep, mind blown. But this is the perfect lunch if you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to crash later.
16. Avocado Tea Sandwiches
How cute and simple are these? Plus, it’s OK to bring fish to the office if you’re not microwaving it, right? Report back.
17. Crunchy Peanut Butter Wrap
Need I say more? You’d be nutty not to try this one. (Someone requested dad humor, right?)
18. Hummus And Veggie Sandwich
The combination of vegetables (and fruit—ahem, avocado) in this sandwich provides a variety of textures to keep your palate excited.
19. Peanut Butter, Pickle, And Potato Chip Sandwich
Yes, you read that right. I did not accidentally write “pickle” instead of “jelly.” These flavors actually do work together, and the chips are a crunchy bonus.
20. Pear-Walnut Sandwich
Cinnamon-raisin bread for a sandwich? Yep.
21. Red Pepper, Goat Cheese, And Fresh Mint Wraps
This wrap has four ingredients (not including some extra salt) and the contents have strong and complementary flavors. Plus, it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.
22. Smoked Gouda And Apple Butter Sandwich
So simple, yet so tasty. And yes, cheese and apples go together. Perfectly.
23. Southwest Hummus Wrap
Hummus is the perfect ingredient to really tie the ingredients of this wrap together and make every bite the perfect fusion of flavors.
24. Sweet Potato, Chickpea, And Quinoa Veggie Burger
Sure, these may take a little extra time to prepare. But if you prepare a bunch of them at once, all you have to do is grab one out of the freezer or fridge and throw it in your bag with a bun and some toppings!
25. Taco Truck Tuna Sandwich
How can you not like something that has the words “taco truck” in it? That’s what I thought.
26. Turkey And Apple Pita Pockets
These savory and sweet ingredients result in some pretty tasty pockets. Note: the pockets must be made of pitas; they cannot be made from denim.
27. Turkey, Smashed Peas, And Pesto Sandwich
Pesto adds the perfect punch of flavor to this well-rounded sandwich.
28. Ham And Arugula Sandwich With Cranberry Chutney
The cranberry and mustard are the perfect match for the savory ham and slightly bitter arugula.
29. Avocado Club Sandwich
Another great lunch recipe? The Avocado Club! It’s full of umami flavor and so satisfying that it will surprise you. The combination of smoky, rich, hearty, crunchy and savory is so irresistible…you’ll want to eat it all over again once it’s gone.
30. Mexican Pinwheels
Let’s move on to Pinwheels and Roll ups, a great way to make lunch more interesting! These Mexican-style pinwheels are stuffed with black beans and crunchy veggies, and seasoned with cumin and chili powder. They take no time to put together!
31. Classic Tuna Salad
Here’s the best tuna salad sandwich on the internet! It’s perfectly creamy, bright and tangy, with just the right crunch from the vegetables. Make your sandwich dreams come true with this recipe! You can also serve it as a lettuce wrap or with crackers.
32. Ultimate Hummus Sandwich
That’s right: hummus on a sandwich. You don’t have to reserve hummus just for carrots and pita triangles! It works as a sandwich spread that’s full of plant-based protein to keep you full for hours. Throw it on bread with all your favorite crunchy veggies and it’s a lunch idea that couldn’t be easier to whip up.
33. Vegan Burrito
Burritos are perfect for lunch! You can easily prep the ingredients in advance and then roll them up for lunch. Make your burrito the night before and refrigerate until serving. This one is filled with Spanish rice and seasoned black beans and veggies. As a time saver, try Instant Pot Spanish Rice or just whip up a pot of white rice and mix it with salsa.
34. Easy Stuffed Dates
Stuffed dates are the perfect “side” for a healthy lunch, and they need no cooking at all! They’re incredibly easy to make, and the flavor of this simple pairing is outrageous. Pair the sweet caramel chewiness of Medjool dates with tangy, fluffy goat cheese, and the sweet-savory combo is out of this world. For plant based, use any nut butter (like our homemade nut butter!).
35. Easy Tofu Scramble
Here’s a lunch idea you might not have considered: a tofu scramble! This tofu scramble has the same texture as scrambled eggs, but it’s 100% plant based. It actually saves very well as leftovers, and even tastes good cold. It’s amazing how savory it tastes: and it’s full of plant based protein. If you’d like, add the veggie saute: or just serve with sliced raw bell peppers!
35. Classic Egg Salad
Some of the best lunch recipes are Make-Ahead Salads, our next category! Don’t forget about straight up egg or tuna salad! It’s a great way to make a simple lunch without having to think much. Refrigerate for 3 to 5 days, refreshing the flavors as needed. Serve with pita bread, carrots and bell peppers for a simple no-think lunch idea!
36. Ultimate Taco Salad
Taco salad works to make ahead for lunches! Make up a batch of Vegan Walnut Taco Meat (or standard ground beef) and reheat it prior to serving. The Taco Salad Dressing takes just 2 minutes to stir together, and refrigerate it until serving. Add lettuce, a few crunchy veggies, and crushed tortilla chips, and you’re set!