Feed yourself well during the day with these easy, nutritious lunch ideas for work. Each can be made ahead, stashed in the fridge, and eaten whenever you need a meal. And you can share them all with your kids, too.
Lunch Ideas for Work
As a busy parent myself, I know firsthand how hard it can be to feed myself—especially right in the middle of the day. These lunch ideas are great for adults at home, for packing for work, and for sharing with the kids.
The beauty of these ideas is that each can be made ahead of time, which means you can make them whenever you have a sliver of time to cook. And then you can stash them in the fridge or freezer to pull out and enjoy whenever you need a meal.
There are a different types of lunch ideas here, including vegetarian lunches and ones made with meat, so you can pick what fits your needs best.
Cold Lunches for Work
To maximize how versatile these lunches are, all of them can be enjoyed cold out of the fridge or at room temperature. This is handy if you might be on the go, have limited options for reheating, or just want to save a step.
And since I know that most parents of little kids are underslept and short on time, I tried to load these healthy lunch ideas with nutritious ingredients to keep us going…even when we’re so tired.
(These are my top ten lunch ideas for kids.)
Hummus and Pita
Hummus paired with pita is one of the very best cold lunches for work (and at home) because it’s so simple to put together and it’s so satisfying from the fiber and protein in the chickpeas and bread. Use a store-bought or homemade hummus according to how much time you have and pair with easy sides including cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, cheese, and fruit.
Bake a batch of chicken meatballs—these have just 4 ingredients, including carrots—to use throughout the week in easy lunches for work. These are great cold (try them with a dip like ranch if you’d like!) or room temperature. Pair with fruit, a simple salad, avocado, or some crackers for a filling meal.
This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is one of the best make-ahead grain salads to make for work or at home. It’s easy to make and stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can even change which beans you use, the type of cheese (or leave it out to make this vegan), and more to customize the grain bowls for your liking.
Yogurt Muffin Lunch
Turn a batch of healthy muffins into an easy lunch for yourself (and the kids!) with this easy idea. Simply surround the muffin or muffins with easy sides like trail mix, sliced fruit, sliced veggies, cheese, peanut butter, or yogurt.
You can even top the muffins with a nut butter if that’s more satisfying, too.
Salad with Chicken and Strawberries
Cut up some crunchy romaine (or use precut salad from the store) and top with grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken and berries. Add a favorite dressing, such as Ranch, Green Goddess, or Caesar, and a side of whole grain crackers or even Roasted Sweet Potato. This is so easy to do if you buy precooked chicken at the store. Or you can make some chicken tenders to pack throughout the week.
Easy Turkey Wrap
Roll up turkey, cheese (like feta cheese or a sliced cheese such as Havarti or cheddar), and shredded veggies with a whole grain wrap as one of our favorite cold lunch ideas for work or home. Add more flavor with some hummus or guacamole and add an easy side of fruit, some soup, or chips.
You can also slice this into spirals and pack for the kids lunch, too.
Vegetarian Hummus Wrap
Pair a whole grain wrap (I like whole wheat flour tortillas) with hummus, shredded lettuce, and shredded veggies for an easy wrap for lunch. You can add cheese, diced chicken, or another protein if desired, and cut in half to pack (or eat).
Serve it deconstructed for the kids, too, if you’d like.
I love pesto pasta for all meals, but especially for lunch since it stores so well, is really flavorful, and is versatile—so you can add tomatoes, cooked chicken or shrimp, black beans or white beans, or other diced veggies for flavor and crunch.
This is an easy one to make on the weekend and enjoy throughout the week.
Pasta Salad with Chicken
Another favorite lunch for work is pasta salad, and this one has flavor from tomatoes, basil, and chicken. It’s filling and easy to share with the kids, too. It’s perfect for any time of the year and delicious served cold right out of the fridge. Add some thinly sliced red onion for extra flavor!
Wild Salmon Salad
Serve yourself a dose of healthy fats and protein with an easy salmon salad. This is made with canned salmon, which is a great source of calcium and is more affordable than fresh salmon. Spread it onto bread, pack with crackers to eat as a dip, or make it as a sandwich or pita pocket.
I like this type of canned salmon from Safecatch. (You can also skip a step and used purchased chicken salad from the deli at your supermarket.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Sandwiches and wraps are easy lunch ideas that really take hardly any time at all. You can also try the ideas here, which are easy to put together and pull out when you need one.
Pasta, rice and beans, vegetarian wraps, grain salads, and muffin lunches are all inexpensive lunches to make at home.
Absolutely, just deconstruct any and serve the components side-by-side for any lunch ideas that are easier for them to chew.
Best Tips for Success
- If you can’t store your lunch in the fridge, pack in an insulated lunch bag with an ice back.
- Try egg salad or tuna salad in a wrap or over greens as another easy idea.
- My Red Lentil Soup packed warm in a thermos is a wonderful option for a hot lunch.
- These are my favorite bento boxes.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this post, so please comment below to share.
This post was first published July 2022.