Creative, nutritious lunches lead to productive afternoons

Back-to-school time isn’t only for kids. The beginning of fall, when salad recipes don’t quite hit the spot, is the perfect time for adults to recommit to healthy habits – it’s like a second version of New Year’s resolutions.

And one of the best things you can do is revamp your lunches. Say goodbye to sad desk lunches filled with overpriced salad bar items, preservative-laden microwavable meals and limp salads. These healthy lunches for work are easy to make, travel well and will make your colleagues wonder how you’re affording a chef on the side.

Here are 10 ideas for healthy lunch recipes:

  1. Apple-Walnut Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Boring sandwiches, be gone. This chickpea salad comes together with a quick tahini dressing. Combined with crunchy apples, walnuts, celery and onion, this healthy lunch is a winner. Load it onto gluten-free bread and finish the salad off with your favorite sandwich toppings, such as tomatoes and avocados.

  1. Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Caprese

What makes these zoodles such a terrific idea for healthy lunches for work? It’s that you can prepare them the night before and enjoy cold or hot the next day. Because the base is zucchini, not pasta, you’ll avoid that post-meal coma feeling that real noodles can bring on.

Tip: If you want to prepare several zoodle recipes at once, you can spiralize a big batch at a time, let dry on paper towels on the kitchen counter for about an hour to remove excess moisture and then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Pull out as much as you need and cover with your favorite toppings.

  1. Easy Greek Tzatziki Chicken Salad

Why use mayonnaise in chicken salads when you can use tzatziki instead? This Greek dressing is made from yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, cucumbers and herbs for so much more flavor than mayonnaise at a fraction of the calories. When it’s mixed with cooked, shredded chicken, it makes for a salad you won’t be able to put down. Stuff it between a whole-grain pita, or eat it on a bed of greens for an easy lunch.

  1. Fried Faux Rice

This version of fried rice uses cauliflower instead of grains for a low-carb, protein-packed meal. Prepare this the night before and reheat the leftovers for one of your healthy work lunches, or just chow down at room temperature – it’s equally good either way.

  1. Frittata Muffins

These frittata muffins are super versatile and travel well. While I love this version, which sees quinoa, green peas and fresh mint playing nicely together, you can easily substitute whatever greens, seeds or herbs you have on hand.

  1. Grilled Chicken and Red Pepper Bowl with Whipped Avocado Cream

You can’t go wrong with a recipe that uses the words “whipped avocado cream.” The trick to this lunchtime bowl is to marinate and grill a batch of chicken over the weekend. You can then divvy up the protein throughout the week in your favorite salad combos. I love the combination of farro, spinach, feta and chicken in this one. But the real star is the avocado cream. Made with fresh lime juice, honey, garlic, herb seasoning and olive oil, it turns a chicken lunch into a gourmet meal.

  1. Loaded Veggie Avocado Quinoa Fritters

While most fritters are fried, these veggie ones are baked in a muffin pan: no muss, less fuss. They’re delicious proportioned and filled with greens, quinoa and avocado. What’s not to love? Sneak in some extra protein and taste by adding diced chicken sausage or jalapeño to take this on-the-go lunch over the top.

  1. Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad

This Middle Eastern salad comes together in minutes with a little chopping and juicing. Chickpeas, cucumbers and a variety of veggies make up the base of this salad — perfect for one of your healthy work lunches. The finishing touch is the lemony-basil vinaigrette that gets drizzled over the veggies. If you prep this recipe ahead of time, store the dressing separately from the salad and stir to combine just before serving.

  1. Paleo Meatballs with Zoodles

Not only do these Paleo meatballs taste great, you can make a big batch at once and freeze individual portions. The combination of protein along with crunchy zucchini noodles and juicy tomatoes means you can grab a good-for-you, preservative-free meal right from the freezer.

  1. Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger

These veggie burgers are perfect for whipping up on weekends and eating throughout the week. Unlike many meat-free burgers, they aren’t “beefed up” with unnecessary fillers. Instead, hearty black beans, quinoa, flaxseed and mashed sweet potatoes add in the bulk and nutrition. These are delicious topped with guacamole or salsa.


This article originally appeared on and is republished here with permission.

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