50 Healthy Cold Lunch Ideas (2023)

Make the most out of your lunch with these 50 cold lunch ideas that are both healthy and delicious! These cold lunch ideas for work are the perfect combination of simple yet satisfying and will make your lunchtime a Whole Lotta Yum!

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50 Healthy Cold Lunch Ideas (1)

Why You'll Love Cold Lunch Meal Prep!

  • Saves money: Meal prepping/buying ingredients in bulk helps to save money and avoid buying more than you need!
  • Helps you eat healthier: You can control the quality of your ingredients as well as avoiding the temptation to eat out!
  • Reduces stress: Having your meals planned out gives you one less thing to stress about during busy work days.
  • Increases productivity: A nutritious lunch will keep you satisficed and increase your energy levels/focus throughout the day.
  • Saves time: Save valuable time in the morning by having your lunch prepared in advance. Just grab it and go!

There are plenty of recipes out there for hot lunch, but what about recipes that don't require heating? Finding cold foods for adults can be a bit trickier. Having a busy schedule means there is not always time to cook or you may simply not have access to a heat source to warm up your food. (We've been there!) On these days, we know the importance of having healthy cold lunches that don't require any heating and will keep you satisfied all day long.

Weather you're looking for something classic like a hearty salad, or something more adventurous like salmon sushi bowls, this list provides a variety of cold lunch ideas for adults that you can meal prep to spice up your lunchtime routine.

If you're obsessed with meal prep as much as we are, you'll also want to check out our meal prepping lists for healthy meal prep for weight loss, easy lunch meal prep for the week, and keto meal prep lunches.

Easy Cold Lunches for Work (No Recipe Needed!)

If you are looking for meals that don't need to be heated up, take a look at these ten cold lunch ideas that can be prepared ahead of time and eaten cold at work. These effortless cold lunch ideas for adults can be swiftly assembled and packed in your lunch bag without the need for a microwave!

  • Chicken Caesar wrap: Made with chicken, lettuce, parmesan cheese, and caesar dressing. Add croutons for extra crunch!
  • Tuna salad: Dice celery and onions and combine with tuna, mayo, salt, and pepper. Pair with your favorite crackers or on top of greens.
  • Veggie and hummus plate
  • Turkey and cheese roll-ups: Roll slices of turkey and cheese together and pair with whole-grain crackers and a side of fruit for a more complete meal!
  • Greek yogurt parfait: Layer Greek yogurt, granola, and your favorite berries.
  • Mason jar salad: Layer leafy greens with your favorite salad add-ins. Top with dressing and shake before eating.
  • Caprese salad: Layer sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Veggie wrap: Spread a healthy tortilla with hummus or cream cheese and add veggies of your choice.
  • Charcuterie board: Add all your favorite meats, cheeses, fruits, and crackers. Add nuts, dips, and spreads for an extra fancy board!
  • Chickpea salad: Use canned chickpeas and mix with with fresh, diced veggies.
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50 Easy Cold Lunches for Adults


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Healthy Broccoli Salad (Low Carb, No Sugar)

When you want a hearty cold broccoli salad recipe but don’t want the sugar and carbs to go with it, then you'll absolutely love this low-carbketo broccoli saladwith bacon.

Chock full of delicious ingredients likefried bacon, cheese, low carb sunflower seeds, and aketo-friendly sweet dressing, this easy salad recipe will be perfect as a meal prep lunch.


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Turkey Taco Bowl

Made with a protein of your choice, grains, lettuce, and various taco toppings, this taco salad bowl recipe is low-carb, keto-friendly, and gluten-free. Plus it's simple to make it dairy-free or Whole30.

Make it with either ground turkey, beef, or chicken to make an easy variety for dinner or meal prep.


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Pulled Pork Lettuce Wraps

Our easy pulled pork lettuce wraps are mouthwatering and full of tender pulled pork. Low carb and packed with flavor our pulled pork is served on butter lettuce and topped with a keto-friendly BBQ sauce and coleslaw.

Make them for dinner the night before and then eat the leftovers as cold lunches for work!


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Big Mac in a Bowl (Big Mac Salad) Keto, Low Carb, GF

A take on the popular fast food burger turned into a healthy salad with cooked beef, shredded cheddar cheese, onions, pickles, seasoning, and sauce.

If you're craving Big Macs, you'll love this fast food adaption.


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Vegan Mediterranean Bowl Recipe

This Mediterranean bowl recipe is a savory, delicious filling meal full of flavorful ingredients like quinoa, sweet potatoes, fresh veggies, and store-bought hummus.

Quick and easy pickled onions add a punch of flavor you're going to obsess over!


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Greek Salad Bowl with Chicken

A healthy Greek salad bowl with chicken that's easy to whip together for a meal prep lunch or dinner when you start with pre-cooked chicken and store-bought tzatziki sauce.

Serve with a bag of steamed cauliflower rice to pack in even more veggies!


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Thai Chopped Salad with Chicken

Our Thai chopped chicken salad is loaded with healthy veggies, shredded chicken, and the best healthy peanut salad dressing you'll ever taste!

This meal is only 344 calories per serving and is ready in just 20 minutes.


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Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Add vegetables, rice noodles, and cooked shrimp to your rice paper wrapper and get ready for spring roll heaven!

These mouth-watering spring rolls are simple to make but are full of delicious flavor! The dipping sauce -a creamy sauce of peanut butter, oyster sauce, and chili paste- brings this recipe to the next level.


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Smoked Salmon Sushi Bowls

If you are craving sushi, these crave-worthy salmon sushi bowls are the answer!

Made with store-bought smoked salmon, healthy vegetables, and cauliflower rice, they are only 265 calories, low carb, paleo, Whole30, and dairy free.


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Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl (Vegan)

If you are craving flavor, check out the vegan buddha bowl recipe made with sweet potatoes, avocado, chickpeas, and a touch of spicy sauce that really brings the flavor to life.


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Mexican Corn Recipes

This Mexican street corn is a blend of corn, onions, lime-seasoned dressing, and parmesan cheese.

Enjoy as a side dish or pack it in your lunch box for a delicious lunch full of authentic flavor.


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Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

This refreshing chicken salad with cranberries and pecans is filling and flavorful. This is great served in a wrap, sandwich, or over a bed of lettuce.

You can use freshly shredded chicken or canned chicken for an easier alternative!


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Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Healthy Asian chicken lettuce wraps that are BETTER than P.F. Changs! Perfect as a meal prep lunch or light dinner.


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BBQ Chicken Sweet Potato Bowl

Get the taste of summer with these BBQ chicken sweet potato bowls. Made with barbeque pulled chicken breast, bright sweet potatoes, and tangy homemade coleslaw.

Perfect for summer dinners and BBQs, our chicken bowl with sweet potatoes is a healthy complete dinner that is bursting with delicious flavor.


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Avocado Kale Salad

A healthy avocado kale salad loaded with veggies and tossed in a light lemon dressing. Whole30, paleo, gluten-free, and low carb.

This keeps well as a cold lunch idea for work and lasts for days in the fridge. Seriously our most favorite salad!


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Loaded Egg Salad with Pickles

A creamy loaded egg salad with pickles recipe you'll love whether you're serving it as a sandwich or on a bed of lettuce.

Such a great variation to the classic egg salad.


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Quinoa Chickpea Salad (In a Jar!)

Photo Credit:cozypeachkitchen.com

This versatile salad-in-a-jar recipe features quinoa, chickpeas, and a bunch of fresh veggies.

You can prep a few jars in advance for quick grab-and-go lunches.


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Vegan Lemon Herb Pearl Couscous Salad�with Chickpeas

Photo Credit:tyberrymuch.com

This lemon herb vegan pearl couscous salad is vibrant with lots of fresh vegetables and a zesty homemade lemon vinaigrette.

It’s flavor-packed with ripe, juicy cherry tomatoes, and crisp cucumbers.


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Turkey and Cheese Roll Ups

Photo Credit:nourishedbynic.com

These turkey and cheese roll-ups are a classic lunchbox staple!

Made with a hidden veggie cream cheese spread this recipe is a great easy cold lunch idea.


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Healthy Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

Photo Credit:nourishedbynic.com

Chicken, pasta, spinach, feta, and pesto come together to create this filling pasta salad.

Filled with fibre, protein and veggies this chicken pesto pasta salad comes together in 30 minutes and makes the perfect meal prep lunch option!


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4- Ingredient Shredded Chicken Salad Recipe

Photo Credit:nourishedbynic.com

This 4 ingredient chicken salad is the perfect make-ahead lunch to set you up for success during the week! Made with chicken, coleslaw mix, greek yogurt, and a tangy BBQ sauce.

Make a batch and add it to wraps, sandwiches or even as a topping on a salad.


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Mediterranean Chickpea Tuna Salad

Photo Credit:thehealthyepicurean.com

You're going to love the combination of fiber-packed chickpeas, protein-packed tuna, briny olives, crisp cucumber, juicy tomatoes and the super yummy oregano-olive oil dressing.

It's perfect for meal prep or a quick lunch!


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Quinoa Salad with Feta & Peaches

Photo Credit:caramelandcashews.com

A fresh and healthy salad with plant based protein and fresh peaches! Perfect for spring or summer lunches.


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Pomegranate Chicken Salad

Photo Credit:thedizzycook.com

This pomegranate chicken salad is perfect on top of salads, as a sandwich or with crackers for an easy to pack lunch that boosts antioxidants!


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Turkey Pesto Sandwich

Photo Credit:thedizzycook.com

This healthy turkey pesto sandwich uses fresh turkey breast with a homemade pesto mayo and roasted red pepper for an easy but delicious lunch.


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No Cook Mason Jar Chicken Taco Salad- WW friendly!

Photo Credit:foodmeanderings.com

This easy-to-assemble recipe is a delicious way to use up leftover taco ingredients.

Seasoned chicken is layered with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and green onion. It tastes just like a taco in a jar!


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Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Photo Credit:www.acedarspoon.com

Chickpea Salad is great to add to bread for a sandwich, a wrap or a pita. It is filled with mashed chickpeas, avocado, greek yogurt, fresh cilantro, and green onion.

You can also eat it on its own. This is packed with protein, filling and healthy.


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Mediterranean White Bean Salad

Photo Credit:www.acedarspoon.com

This healthy protein-packed salad is made with white beans, crunchy vegetables, herbs, and a light lemon dressing.

It is the perfect quick and easy lunch idea that is also healthy and packed with protein.


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Kimchi Noodle Salad Recipe — Registered Dietitian Columbia SC - Rachael Hartley Nutrition

Photo Credit:www.rachaelhartleynutrition.com

If you're looking for a satisfying lunch option during the summer, this recipe for cold kimchi noodle salad is a great choice.

The dish consists of crisp cucumbers, spicy kimchi, and noodles in a spicy sauce, and can be topped with your preferred protein to make it even more filling.


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Curried Quinoa Apple Salad Recipe — Registered Dietitian Columbia SC

Photo Credit:www.rachaelhartleynutrition.com

This curried quinoa salad featuring crunchy sweet apples, chewy golden raisins, fluffy quinoa, and red onions in a creamy curried yogurt dressing is perfect for meal prep!

Add chickpeas or chicken for an extra boost of protein.


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Israeli Couscous Salad

Photo Credit:www.beyondthechickencoop.com

This couscous salad is filled with fresh spinach, tomatoes and covered with an easy-to-make orange dressing.

Perfect for packing into containers and taking to lunch!


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Protein Snack Pack - Easy Lunch Meal Prep

Photo Credit:theforkedspoon.com

Protein Snack Packs offer a nutritious and satisfying combination of hard-boiled eggs, almonds, hummus, and crunchy veggies, making them ideal for on-the-go lifestyles.

These versatile meal-prep solutions are not only perfect for work lunches but also serve as great post-workout fuel or delightful additions to any park picnic.


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Kale Wild Rice Salad

Photo Credit:www.throughthefibrofog.com

Packed with healthy ingredients, this kale wild rice salad combines fresh produce with a tasty ginger dressing.

It's easy to make and pack up for a work lunch!


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Coconut Chicken Salad Sandwich

Photo Credit:thereislifeafterwheat.com

Level up your chicken salad with coconut rice, toasted almonds, and cranberries!

Tastes great in a bun or wrap, or with a side of crackers.


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Lentil Patties with Herbs

Photo Credit:www.mykitchenlove.com

Quick and easy Lentil Patties are the perfect wholesome and satisfying addition to any lunch. Add to salads, wraps, etc.

Create lentil mixture using lentils, breadcrumbs, eggs, and parsley. Form the mixture into patties and cook on a hot skillet for 4-6 minutes on each side.


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Salmon Stuffed Avocado

Photo Credit:thisdelicioushouse.com

Salmon Stuffed Avocado is a delicious and easy recipe that comes together in just minutes with no cooking required.

Using canned salmon, this recipe is a healthy and quick meal you’re going to love!


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Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Photo Credit:urbanblisslife.com

Shrimp Summer Rolls are delicious, healthy, low carb and easy to make. Made with shrimp, noodles, and veggies wrapped in a thin rice paper.

Perfect to pop into your lunchbox for a tasty, nutritious lunch that goes beyond the basics!


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Waldorf Chicken Salad

Photo Credit:www.theroastedroot.net

Waldorf Chicken Salad is a summer classic made with tender chicken, sweet grapes, crisp apples, and refreshing celery with a crunch of pecans, all wrapped in a creamy mayo dressing.

This chilled, refreshing chicken salad recipe is bursting with sweet, creamy flavors with amazing texture.


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Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Photo Credit:www.theroastedroot.net

Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps are fresh and flavorful for an easy lunch or dinner.

Fresh vegetables and an amazing Thai-inspired sauce make these delicious lettuce wraps so inviting. Low-carb and ready in 30 minutes or less!


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Collard Green Wraps

Photo Credit:www.worldofvegan.com

Level up your lunchtime wrap by using a blanched collard leaf as your tortilla! This wrap is made using collard greens, quinoa, shredded veggies, plant-based nuggets, and vegan ranch.

You can also adjust the fillings based on your mood!


How to keep lunch box cold without ice pack?

A cooler bag can help keep your food insulated throughout the day. You can also use a frozen water bottle as a make shift ice pack.

How long do insulated lunch boxes keep food cold?

Insulated lunch boxes are usually able to keep food cold for about 4-6 hours. Add an ice pack to your lunch box to help your food stay colder for longer.

What can I bring to work without a microwave?

There are lots of food options that don't require any heating. Some options include:
-Hard-boiled eggs
-Cheese and crackers
-Hummus and veggies

Be sure to join our healthy recipes email list to get lots of meal prep ideas, plus free meal planning printables. We're here to make meal time simple!

More Meal Prep Lunches

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  • Easy lunch meal prep for the week
  • Keto meal prep lunches


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