How To Come Up With Healthy Work Lunch Ideas (With Examples)

By Ryan Morris
Dec. 5, 2022
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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Summary: To eat a healthy work lunch, make sure you have a balanced meal that provides variety to diversify your nutrition intake. Combine vegetables, protein, and carbs that are high in fiber. Consider wraps and rice bowls, as well as healthy snacks like trail mix and fruit.

Eating well is a critical part of a healthy life. Our bodies constantly consume energy that needs to be replenished with nutrients. This is true at work as much as in any other place in life.

Although we can rely on less healthy food, or no food, in the short-term, in the long term, your health demands a better diet. Use your lunch at work as an opportunity to be a better employee and a better-feeling person.

Key Takeaways:

  • Eating healthy at work improves your long term wellness and effectiveness as an employee.

  • Your lunch should be about a third of daily caloric intake.

  • Use your lunch to provide a necessary boost of energy midway through the day.

How To Come Up With Healthy Work Lunch Ideas (With Examples)

Why Are Healthy Office Lunches Important?

Healthy office lunches are important because they contribute to your overall effectiveness at work. They also help you feel better in the long run by improving your health.

You are what you eat, and so if you eat like crap, you’ll feel like crap. Maybe not right away, due to the carbs such as sugar that hotwire your brain, but over time, the less healthy you eat, the less healthy you become. This impacts both your physical and mental capabilities.

A healthy office lunch is a way to get the energy your body needs to stay focused, available, and resilient to challenge. It helps avoid situations such as depression, exhaustion, or irritability that can be brought on by poor dieting.

Components Of A Healthy Work Lunch

Whether you’re eating out or bringing your lunch from home, it’s important to remember that not all lunches are created equal. You need a few major elements in place to ensure that your lunch doesn’t end with you either still hungry, too full, or otherwise hunched over your desk clutching your stomach for your remaining hours at work.

Here are the biggest things to keep in mind when constructing (or ordering) your lunch for the day:

  • Quantity. A good lunch in a normal eating schedule should take up just under a third of your daily calorie intake — for most people, that falls between around 500-750 calories, depending on your weight.

  • Variety. You need nutrients from a variety of sources. To get everything you need out of any lunch requires variety in the foods you eat. That doesn’t mean different brands of potato chips mixed together — that means multiple different food groups (at least 4) all in the same meal.

  • Protein. One of those food groups ought to be a protein of some kind — lentils, peas, beans, eggs, greek yogurt, chicken, and other lean proteins are the best for this. Red meats can be good too, but they’re not the healthiest and should be eaten more sparingly if possible.

  • Vegetables. Don’t forget vegetables, preferably ones high in fiber (to keep you feeling full).

  • Carbs. Carbs are also essential for keeping you energized, but make sure they’re good carbs, not empty ones.

  • Flavor. Last of all, make sure the lunch has lots of flavor. If it’s not tasty, or if for any other reason you just don’t like it, then it’s not very likely you’re going to stick to a diet like this for long. There’s plenty of ways to make or buy healthy food that you enjoy, so don’t needlessly punish yourself with bland, gross (but healthy) foods.

Good Examples of Healthy Office Lunches

So with all this in mind, we come to the final piece of our advice for the day: What are some good examples of these kinds of healthy lunches?

Here are some excellent healthy lunch examples you can try for yourself (recipes can be found online in a number of varieties):

  • Avocado BLTs. Cheap and easy to make bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches with just a little avocado or guac thrown on for some extra flavor. Opt for whole wheat bread, and throw in some sprouts if you’re a fan.

  • Wraps. Wraps are excellent in general because, particularly when made with cold ingredients, they’re quick to throw together even on a hectic morning, and it’s easy to add in any ingredients you might need.

    But where these really shine are with pre-cooked ingredients like brown rice, fried veggies, and some form of protein like beans, tofu, or chicken. There’s really no wrong way to make a wrap and they’re easy to heat up in a work microwave, so as long as you’re hitting all the major food groups, go nuts and add whatever you like.

  • Rice bowls. Again, these are extremely easy meals to adapt to a wide variety of different tastes and diets, and what’s great about these is that for meal preppers, it’s easy to make several at once.

    They keep well in the fridge and microwave well too, and as far as variety goes, there’s not a whole lot of meats or veggies you can add to rice that won’t taste perfect with it. Look specifically for Indian, East Asian, and South and Central American-based dishes in order to get the level of variety and taste you’re looking for.

  • 3-ingredient meals. Intentionally simple, but easy to spice and flavor, 3-ingredient meals are absolutely perfect for meal preppers. The most common kind include either potatoes or sweet potatoes for carbs, some sort of lean protein like baked chicken or tofu, and lots and lots of veggies.

    If you plan it right, you can bake all of these ingredients on the same sheets in about a half-hour, and with minimal prep time, you can suddenly have a week’s worth of lunches at the ready.

  • PBJ. It might seem simple, but these are actually excellent sources of protein and carbs — again, go with whole wheat bread, go easy on the jelly, and pack some fruit and baby carrots to help round out the meal a little more.

Healthy Snack Ideas

Sometimes our healthy lunches don’t quite fill us as much as a burger and fries. But if you have healthy lunch followed by a series of unhealthy snacks, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

That’s where healthy snack ideas come in handy. These snacks are flavorful, nutritious, and easy to put together.

  • Nuts. One of the easiest snacks to keep on hand around the office, nuts are packed with healthy fat and protein that’ll keep you going. To keep things truly healthy, steer clear of super-salty nuts. Instead, look for natural spicy flavors, or create a spice mix of your own to toss nuts in.

  • Roasted chickpeas. If nuts aren’t your thing, try roasting chickpeas with whatever spice profile you enjoy. You can make a week’s worth in the oven in under an hour. Bam — a healthy, crunchy snack to keep in your desk drawer for whenever you feel your energy flagging.

  • Trail mix. A personal favorite, trail mix allows you to combine a bunch of healthy items (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc.) in one bag. You can also add a bit of chocolate to fulfill that sugar craving, but opt for pure dark chocolate when you can.

  • Fruit. Whether it’s just keeping an apple and some peanut butter handy or making yourself a little fruit cup before work, having fruit handy is a real treat. It can be just the thing for sugar fiends trying to kick the unhealthy snack habit.

  • Nut butter. Any sort of nut butter along with some crackers, pretzels, or fruit is enough to keep your tummy filled and your hunger satisfied. Pair with whole grain crackers to add a kick of fiber as well.

  • Pita chips. If you’re trying to stay away from potato chips, we recommend the healthier alternative, pita chips. Grab yourself some hummus or guacamole and you’ve got all the flavor you need.

Healthy Eating At Lunch FAQs

  1. Is it possible to eat healthy and cheap if you’re only eating out for lunch?

  2. In generally, no it is not possible to eat cheap and healthy if you only eat out for lunch. This is unless your work is compensating you for every one of these lunches. Even then, the odds are low that you’re going to find a restaurant that’s healthy enough and has enough variety for you to be eating healthy lunches every time you go out.

    Eating out for lunch once or twice a week, if you can afford it, is fine, and probably won’t destroy your walking-around money. But you’re going to want to learn how to start bringing at least three out of your five weekly lunches from home, at least if you hope to make any real progress when it comes to eating cheap and healthy meals on the reg.

  3. What is the healthiest lunch to take to work?

  4. The healthiest lunch to take to work is one that provides an appropriate quantity of diverse nutrients. While a standard salad with protein is the most classic option, there are many other choices. Examples include:

    • Pesto chicken and veggies.

    • Chickpea salad.

    • Sweet potato sandwiches.

    • Shrimp, rice, and veggies.

    • Lettuce wraps.

    • Homemade breakfast burritos.

    • Mushroom soup.

  5. How do I meal prep for work?

  6. Prep for your work lunch by giving yourself time before the start of the week. Go grocery shopping and pick out ingredients that can be used in a variety of dishes. Then prepare those ingredients ahead of time.

    For example, you can chop all your vegetables at once and store them in your fridge to be used as need. Also you can cook a large quantity of rice and store that as well.

Final Thoughts

That’s all for this one! Just keep in mind: The main thing to keeping up with a healthy diet is to remain consistent with it — not with eating specifically the same foods over and over, but with the commitment to healthy eating itself.

The easiest way to do so is to keep things cheap, simple, and, above all, tasty.

You want to do your best to make it easier for you to think about and prep healthy lunches than it would be for you not to do so. Humans are creatures of convenience — so find foods that you truly enjoy, and experiment to find the healthiest and easiest ways to put them together.

In no time, you’ll find yourself putting together your week’s worth of lunches without even a second thought.


  1. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion – Dietary Guidelines for Americans

  2. – Healthy Eating

  3. CDC – Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight

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Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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