Easy healthy lunch ideas for work without cold cuts

Lunch during the work week is often bound to some form of sandwich, usually with cold cuts. Not only do you pay premium prices for lunch meat but you’re also buying the worst quality of meat. In other words less quality for more money. Seems like a good deal for the producers but a lousy deal for your health. Check out these alternative easy healthy lunch ideas for work that are filling and tasty but much healthier.

Meatless healthy lunch ideas for work

In light of the fact that the World health organization (WHO) classified processed meat as ‘carcinogenic to people’  here are first some meatless versions you can take for lunch. It can be argued about the health benefits of meat, but having a meatless lunch is going to increase your vegetable consumption in the long run and that is always a good idea, considering that the health benefits of vegetables are indisputable.

Salads

You can put creamy salads into your sandwiches. They are filling and satisfying. If you take out the mayo and substitute it with healthier options like greek yogurt they become quite healthy little treats.

Egg salad

No cook, fast&easy

Egg salad in a sandwich

This is a classic dish that can be enjoyed in a sandwich or on it’s own. You can choose to put it between bread which will make the bread soggy and moist by the time it’s lunch time or keep it in a separate plastic bowl and eat it with crispy bread or crackers. Make a healthier version of egg salad without the mayo and add some fresh chives to make it taste fresher. This salad can be made ahead and can be stored in the fridge for a few days. If you organize yourself well you can cook the eggs ahead for the whole week and store them in the fridge. Make small batches of egg salad from two eggs whenever you want for your sandwich. As a plus you’ll have cooked eggs for a quick snack always ready in the fridge. Check out this simple recipe for egg salad.

Tuna salad

No cook, fast&easy

Tuna salad sandwich

Tuna salad is the other obvious choice when it comes to salads. Use herbs like dill, basil, chives and gherkins to add more flavor. Always use water packed tuna to lower your fat intake, as the oils in which fish are packed are usually of low quality. Add some chopped veggies like scallions, celery stalks, pepper or carrots to add some crunchiness to the salad. If you can’t imagine your tuna salad without mayo lighten it up by adding only half the amount of mayonnaise and plain yogurt for the other half.  You can also try this healthy mediterranean tuna salad recipe that ditches the mayo all together. If you don’t like tuna try the salad with mackerel instead. It’s also a strong flavored, oily fish and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.



Greek salad with pita bread

No cook, fast&easy

Greek salad plate

Having a traditional greek salad with a little bit of pita bread on the side is a satisfying lunch. To keep the crispiness of the veggies until lunch, toss all the vegetables in one bowl but don’t put any dressing on them. Make the dressing separately and keep it in a small spill proof container in the same bowl as your salad. That way you’ll only carry one bowl. Simply put the dressing over the salad just before you eat it. Enjoy with some pita bread on the side or fill the pita bread with the salad inside and enjoy as a classic sandwich.

Grain salad

Cooking necessary, easy

Grain salad

If you’re willing to think outside the sandwich box try to make some grain or bean salad for lunch as well. These are complete meals which will fill you up until dinner. The choice of grain is yours – quinoa, couscous, rice, millet,.. Try this quinoa salad with cucumber, tomato and herbs.

Bean salad

Cooking necessary, easy

Bean salad

Choose any kind of beans with lots of vegetables as a satisfying meal. You can use canned beans if you don’t have any cooked ones at hand. A good way to have always some cooked beans prepared is to cook them ahead and store them in freezer bags. Bean salads can be prepared ahead and kept well in the refrigerator for several days. Look at this simple but very tasty black bean salad for inspiration.

Spreads

No cook, fast&easy

Hummus

Spreads are a good way to replace lunch meats. To make it a whole meal add some sliced fresh vegetables on top of your favorite spread. You can choose from different spreads here are some ideas:

  • Hummus is a great, high protein spread. Combine it with vegetables you like. A sandwich combination with avocado and roasted peppers is extra creamy and yummy.
  • Nut butter is another healthy spread that can be enjoy from time to time. You can try classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or go for other nut butters like almond, cashew, pecan or hazelnut butter. Nuts have many health benefits but should be enjoyed in moderation because of their high calorie content. Because of the high price of these items check out how to make your own nut butter.
  • Seed butters are also an interesting spread on bread. They are full of natural oils and can be easily made into butter. Try butters from sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and add some fresh spices like chive to add some taste.
  • Olive paste. Simply combine a handful of black olives with some olive oil and mix in your blender until the mixture becomes a paste. Here is a simple oilve paste recipe that uses kalamata olives for this paste.

Grilled mushrooms

Cooking necessary, easy

Griled mushroom sandwich

Grilled mushrooms have a meaty texture and will substitute lunch meat well. Use big portobello mushrooms on a grill or use a grill pan if you don’t have a grill. The possibilities here are endless but here are two flavor suggestions:

  • Mushrooms, sauteed onions and sauerkraut with cheese on top
  • Mushrooms, roasted bell pepper and goat cheese

Veggie burger

Cooking necessary, needs some skill

Veggie burger

If you want a classic burger for lunch at work you could make veggie burgers for dinner and make a little bit more for lunch the next day. There are many different recipes out there for veggie burgers. When you use beans in a veggie burger it’s a great way to add a lot of fiber and proteins into your diet. Try this veggie burger recipe with black beans and sweet potatoes or this one with white beans and quinoa.

Soup

Cooking necessary, easy

Soup for lunch instead of sandwiches

As an alternative to sandwiches try some hearty soups that will warm and fill you up for lunch. With soups for lunch you’ll eat much more vegetables and loose a bunch of carbs and sugar from bread and buns that come with a sandwich. To satisfy your hunger after eating soup don’t choose watery void stock soups but go for chowders with lots of vegetables or macaroni inside. You could choose one of these:

Grilled cheese

Cooking necessary, fast&easy

Grilled cheese sandwich

Grilled cheese is the last on this meat less list for substituting lunch meat in sandwiches. That’s because all the other options above are more nutritious and have much more vegetables and less fat than grilled cheese. Cheese shouldn’t be something you enjoy every day in large quantities but a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch from time to time is not going to hurt you. Here are some suggestions that add a little bit more nutrition than just putting the cheese between your bread.

  • Grilled cheese with avocado – both are high in calories and fat, but the avocado will counterbalance the saturated fats from the cheese with heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and a lot of nutritious ingredients including potassium, vitamin K and folate.
  • Grilled cheese with tomatoes – a classic every body loves.

Can’t imagine your lunch without meat?

Many people can’t imagine their lunch without meat so here are healthier meat options for those of you who won’t give up a meaty lunch. It’s a fact that processed meat is simply bad for your health. It often contains only 10% of real meat, so you have to wonder what the producers put in it to make it taste like meat. The healthier option is to skip processed meats all together and eat real meat instead, organic grass-fed if possible. That’s a little bit more work – yes, but much cheaper and more healthy than buying luncheon meats.

Roasted turkey

Cooking necessary, easy, prepare ahead

Roasted turkey

You can roast a whole turkey or just buy and cook a turkey breast or thigh to make it quicker. The meat from the turkey can be sliced and put in little one-portion plastic bags that can be frozen. When you need it for your sandwiches or salads just take out in the evening and let it defrost in the fridge over night. Cooked turkey will keep 3-4 days in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer. Here is a simple roasted turkey recipe.

Roasted chicken

Cooking necessary, easy, prepare ahead

Roasted chicken

The same as roasting turkey, you can roast chicken as well. It takes less time to cook and it’s cheaper. You can buy any cut of chicken meat. Use a sliced whole chicken, thighs with or without bone or chicken breasts – it really depend on what you like best. For a delicious roast:

  1. Marinate your chicken for an hour or two in the fridge. You can make a marinate out of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, a little bit of lemon zest and a pinch of dried rosemary.
  2. Put all your chicken pieces on a tray and cover with foil. This will prevent the meat to dry out.
  3. Roast in the oven at 350 °F (175 °C) for about half an hour or until done.
  4. Leave to cool and slice in smaller portions. Cooked chicken will keep 3-4 days in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer.

Takeaway salads in a jar

No cook, fast&easy, prepare ahead, grab&go

Jar salads

You can use roasted chicken or turkey in handy salads put together in a jar. Check out these jar salad ideas for yummy lunches without deli meat.

BBQ chicken

Cooking necessary, easy, prepare ahead

Shredded BBQ chicken

Another way to enjoy flavorful chicken is to slow cook it in your oven with BBQ sauce. You could make it in a crock pot if you have one. Just don’t use BBQ sauces full of sugar but try this recipe for healthy BBQ sauce instead. To make BBQ chicken :

  • Toss the chicken breasts without the bones and BBQ sauce together in a oven proof dish. The BBQ sauce should cover all of the chicken breasts.
  • Cover with lid or foil.
  • Cook in the oven for an hour at 350 °F (175 °C).
  • Eat whole chicken breasts or shred meat with two forks.
  • You can use it in salads, sandwiches, wraps, …

Roasted pork

Cooking necessary, easy

Roasted pork

You can choose more expensive cuts of pork for cooking like roasted pork tenderloin that will be finished in about 20-30 minutes or cheaper cuts that need more preparation and cooking but are equally good when done well.

Meatloaf

Cooking necessary, easy

Meatloaf

Meatloaf in a sandwich makes a hefty lunch. If you made some for dinner taking a bunch for lunch is easy and quick. Check out this version of a healthier meatloaf.

Photo credit: Egg Salad Sandwich, Dijon-Cilantro Tuna Salad on Whole Grain Bread, green lentil salad with walnut dressing, Black & White Bean Salad, Portobello rocket feta toasted baguette By Takeaway , Quinoa Burger, Minestrone soup By Katrin Morenz, Rosemary Apple Butter Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Cottage Cheese Veggie Salad 2, Shredded Slow Cooker Chicken with BBQ Sauce, Mmm… meatloaf