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.

lunches for work in containers on countertop

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 lunch in lunchbox with cucumbers and orange

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.

Homemade Hummus (Without Tahini)
With just 5 minutes and basic pantry ingredients, you can make the yummiest Homemade Hummus without tahini. This means that it's nut-free, so it's an option for school and allergy families, and it's just perfect for dunking crackers or spreading on bread.
Get the recipe
hummus without tahini on plate with dippers.
chicken meatballs lunchbox with strawberries

Chicken Meatballs

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.

4-Ingredient Baked Chicken Meatballs
With just four simple and affordable ingredients, you can make tender Baked Chicken Meatballs to share with the kids. Bonus: You can tuck a veggie into the mix, and they are perfect to batch-cook and stash in the freezer!
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baked chicken meatballs on cookie sheet.
quinoa salad in container with drinkable yogurt

Quinoa Salad

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.

Easy Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Mix up this grain salad to have lunches prepped for the week for yourself, or to have a dinner side or vegetarian main dish to share with the family.
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mediterranean quinoa salad on two plates
muffin lunch with snap peas, apples and trail mix in lunchbox

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.

Favorite Yogurt Muffins
This is an epic of a basic muffin recipe that you can then add flavor to in all sorts of ways—from fruit to veggies to chocolate chips. The batter is packed with protein too, so the muffins are great for breakfast or snack. (The allergy-friendly substitutions are listed in the Notes section at the bottom.)
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chicken and strawberry salad with whole grain crackers

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 Baked Chicken Tenders
These crispy Chicken Tenders are fast and versatile. To make these with panko breadcrumbs, use 1 cup and stir ¼ teaspoon salt into the flour before you dredge the chicken.
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crispy baked chicken tenders on white and blue plate
turkey wrap with apples on blue plate

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.

Easy Turkey Wrap Recipe (to Share with the Kids)
Roll up a few simple ingredients to make this delicious Turkey Wrap recipe in minutes. It's a great lunch wrap for home or school, and you can easily adjust the ingredients to suit the preferences of your child. This makes one wrap, so scale up as desired.
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vegetarian hummus wrap on white plate with tomatoes

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.

Easy Hummus Wrap (to Share with the Kids)
Quickly combine a few simple ingredients to make a really yummy lunch wrap. This recipe makes one wrap, so increase the serving size as necessary.
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hummus wraps on white plates with apple slices
pesto pasta camp lunch in container

Pesto Pasta

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.

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
This is an easy family dinner or lunch. I like to use Spinach Pesto for this, but any will work if you prefer to buy it pre-made from the store.
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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!

Pasta Salad with Chicken
This simple Pasta Salad with Chicken works well anytime of the year, but the flavors are particularly great in summer. Try it for dinner, a potluck, or to meal-prep lunch.
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pasta salad with chicken in bowls.
salmon salad on toast with cucumber and mango

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.)

Favorite Salmon Salad Sandwich
This salmon salad is packed with protein, healthy fats, and calcium and can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches. We use homemade relish in this recipe, but you can use any that you like the flavor of.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the easiest thing to make for lunch?

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.

What can I make for a cheap lunch for work?

Pasta, rice and beans, vegetarian wraps, grain salads, and muffin lunches are all inexpensive lunches to make at home.

Can I share these lunch ideas for work with my kids?

Absolutely, just deconstruct any and serve the components side-by-side for any lunch ideas that are easier for them to chew.

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This post was first published July 2022.

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