1. Eat Healthy
  2. Eating healthy on a budget

Tips for Making and Bringing Lunch to Work

Don’t get me wrong, eating out at a nice healthy conscious restaurant is a breath of fresh air, but unless you make a 7 figure income that adds up really fast. Rather than focusing on recipes, I prefer to share a process to ease the burden of making lunch and bringing it to work. Recipes with their sometimes fancy ingredients can be intimidating and expensive, but you don’t need any of that to make a healthy lunch every day. All you need is a simple process you can repeat everyday yet have unlimited choices for a healthy lunch.

Lunch Containers

In order to bring a healthy homemade lunch to work or school, you will need a set of re-usable glass containers, like these glass ones. You will need airtight containers for your main meal as well as small containers to store salad dressing or other condiments. You will need about two containers for your lunch if you are like me and want to separate your bread and veggies until it is time to eat your sandwich. You can also buy bento box containers with separate sides to store different foods. Whatever you do, don’t buy containers with phthalates due to the overall health risks associated with that chemical.

Meal Prep

Meal prep is all the rage these days and it feels like a burden to start, but once it gets built into your routine, it will become part of what you do and it can change your life forever. My process assumes you work a 9-5 job during the weekdays, but it is totally modifiable to your own lifestyle. I have a simple two step process for meal prepping lunch.

Step 1: Get protein

Options are chicken, beans, beef, fish, minimally processed deli meat such as turkey or chicken breast, canned tuna or meat alternatives.

Step 2: Get sides

Options are veggies, pasta, brown or white rice (small grain brown rice is pretty good). Purchase whole-grain bread and . You may also purchase tuna in a packet and cheese.

  • At the beginning of the week simple choose a couple of protein choices for that week. Do the same for sides. Just keep it simple, and invest in a few condiments to spice things up. Choose proteins that are easy to cook. For instance thinly sliced chicken breasts can be cooked for just 3-4 minutes per side until it gets to 160 degrees F.
  • Vegetables of your choice which could include lettuce, carrots, beets, tomatoes, etc. Purchase enough vegetables to serve as a few side salads, sandwich toppings, and 1 or 2 meal salads. Purchase whole-grain bread and minimally processed deli meat such as turkey or chicken breast.
  • Spend 2 hours per week, 1 hour at the beginning of the week and 1 hour in the middle of the week, to wash and cut, chop or slice vegetables to your liking. Let’s choose Sunday and Wednesday as our veggie prep days. On Sunday you want to chop enough vegetables for the next 3 days. On Wednesday you will chop enough for the next two days. You can prep vegetables for the entire week if you make sure they are dry using a veggie spinner like this.
  • Store them separately in an airtight container. Be sure to completely dry your veggies before storing them in the fridge.
  • Each night pack your lunch based on what you want to bring the next day. For salads, take your pre-cut veggies and place them in your lunch container. Add deli meat, tuna or leftover protein. If you are making a sandwich, then place the bread in one container, your protein, and veggies in the other container. Please remember to add your condiments or dressing in small spill-proof containers.


When it’s time to eat you might need to do some minimal prep work such as place your meat and veggies on your bread and spread your condiment, but most of your lunch-time will be spent enjoying your home-made lunch.


What you chose to buy depends heavily on your own taste preference and what is available in your local area. However, just be careful not to overspend. Think ahead before you shop for lunch or you will find yourself overspending. Shop at supermarkets that sell vegetables by the pound so you can buy a very small portion of what you need. You can also choose to buy the smallest lettuce in the bunch.

It is easy to overspend without a proper plan. Also, before you buy, take an inventory of the items you already have at home. This process is easily modifiable. You can use wraps instead of bread or you can replace carbs completely with lettuce for example. You can add beans, brown rice and make a lunch bowl. Feel free to change it up and have fun with it. The biggest thing is to think ahead for the week and prep twice that week to split the work in two as well as to keep the chopped foods as fresh as possible.

Healthy Lunch Recipe Ideas

With the approach listed above, here are some healthy lunch ideas you can use with this process. You can swap out proteins for ones you like better.

1. Mason Jar Salads

  • Ingredients: Mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, grilled chicken, chickpeas, feta cheese, and your favorite dressing.
  • Instructions: Layer ingredients in a mason jar, starting with the dressing at the bottom to keep greens fresh. Add heavier items like chickpeas and chicken next, and finish with greens on top.

2. Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

  • Ingredients: Chicken breast, mixed vegetables (e.g., bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas), soy sauce, garlic, ginger, olive oil, and brown rice.
  • Instructions: Cook chicken and veggies in a pan with olive oil, garlic, and ginger. Add soy sauce for flavor. Serve with pre-cooked brown rice.

3. Quinoa Bowls

  • Ingredients: Quinoa, black beans, corn, avocado, cherry tomatoes, red onion, lime, cilantro, and a protein of your choice (e.g., chicken, tofu, or shrimp).
  • Instructions: Cook quinoa and mix with black beans, corn, and diced veggies. Top with avocado, lime juice, and cilantro. Add your preferred protein.

4. Wraps

  • Ingredients: Whole wheat tortillas, hummus, spinach, shredded carrots, bell peppers, grilled chicken or turkey slices.
  • Instructions: Spread hummus on the tortilla, add spinach, veggies, and protein. Roll up tightly and slice in half.

5. Pasta Salad

  • Ingredients: Whole wheat pasta, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, red onion, olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano.
  • Instructions: Cook pasta and mix with chopped veggies, olives, and feta. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano.

6. Bento Boxes

  • Ingredients: Brown rice, steamed veggies, boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, and grilled salmon or chicken.
  • Instructions: Arrange items in a bento box or any divided container for a balanced and visually appealing meal.

7. Turkey and Cheese Roll-Ups

  • Ingredients: Sliced turkey, cheese slices, lettuce, and whole grain crackers.
  • Instructions: Roll turkey slices around cheese and lettuce. Serve with crackers on the side.

8. Greek Yogurt Parfaits

  • Ingredients: Greek yogurt, granola, fresh berries, and a drizzle of honey.
  • Instructions: Layer Greek yogurt, granola, and berries in a container. Drizzle with honey.

These meals can be prepped in advance and stored in the fridge, making them perfect for grabbing and going during a busy workday.

Final advice

Don’t spend an eternity researching healthy lunch ideas before you get started. It is tempting to make a long term plan before you start, but that brings a high risk of getting discouraged. Once you start it’s a lot easier to keep going. Let the momentum of the first week motivate you for the next week and so forth. If you have a particularly busy week, it is ok to buy yourself lunch. Just remember to pick up where you left off. Best of luck coming up with your healthy lunch ideas.

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Make and bring your lunch to work from home