Back in the Office: 16 Healthy Desk Lunch Ideas

Back to the Office: 16 Healthy Desk Lunch Ideas

Heading back to the office but can’t decide on what to pack for lunch?

Stick to your eating habits at work, (or start new ones!), with these inspirational healthy desk lunch ideas plus easy-to-prep recipes from San Diego-based food bloggers.

Salad: The Classic Healthy Desk Lunch

Think beyond Caesar and Greek: elevate your salad with new ingredients and combinations.

The perfect salad formula states salads should be composed of:

  • Vegetables

    leafy greens; raw, roasted, pickled veggies; herbs

  • A solid dressing

    creamy or vinaigrette

  • Something with crunch

    seeds, nuts, croutons

  • Protein [optional]

    plant-based protein, meat, beans, eggs, cheese

  • Bonus ingredients [optional]

    fruit, dried fruit, grains, pasta, seaweed, etc.

Not sure what works well together? Browse these great salad combo recipes from local food bloggers:

Cauliflower and chermoula salad [Vegan, GF]

Zhuzh up your roasted cauliflower with this simple Moroccan chermoula (think salsa verde or chimichurri) recipe. (Carlsbad Cravings)

Roast chicken and fresh fig salad [GF, Dairy-Free]

A tasty way to celebrate a favorite fall fruit. (Barbara Cooks)

Tomato and lentil salad with feta and herbs [GF]

Perfect combo of protein and veggies to fuel your workday. (Kitchen Konfidence)

Bowls: The One-Dish Wonder


Bowls are similar to salads but more carb-forward—think rice, quinoa or pasta as the main focus with protein and veggies as accompaniments.

Try these out for your next healthy desk lunch:

  • California sushi roll in a bowlSkip the messy rolling part of sushi and instead throw all the tasty stuff into a bowl! Sub cauli rice for white rice and/or sub gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos for the soy sauce for low-carb/paleo diets. (Natasha’s Food Adventures)
  • Chicken burrito bowls with cauliflower rice [GF, Dairy-Free]

    Low-carb version of the popular burrito bowl. (Kirbie’s Cravings).

  • Egg roll in a bowl

    Packs all the flavor you find in a classic egg roll. Sub cauli rice for white rice and/or sub gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos for the soy sauce for low-carb/paleo diets. (Carlsbad Cravings).

  • Taco stuffed avocados

    Prep the taco meat the night before and pack it to go along with your avocado(s). Warm up the meat, slice the avo in half, scoop in the filling and you’ve got a mini-taco bowl. (Kirbie’s Cravings).

Charcuterie Bento Box (aka Adult Lunchables)

Who says kids have to have all the fun? Make your own lunchable bento box or cheese board, and you’ll have all your coworkers wanting to trade their lunches with your healthy desk lunch!

Mix and match from the ingredients below to create your own combo:


  • Charcuterie

    salami, prosciutto, deli meat, vegan pâté, etc.

  • Cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Tofu/plant-based protein

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Broccoli, cauliflower
  • Carrots, celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cherries
  • Cucumbers
  • Dried fruit
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Olives
  • Oranges
  • Peppers
  • Pickled vegetables

Grains & Seeds

  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Dips & Dressings

  • Hummus – make your own with these 6 great recipes
  • Jams, chutneys
  • Mayo, aioli, dressings
  • Nut butter

Sandwiches + Wraps: Best On-The-Go Option

Nothing beats the convenience of a sandwich. Consider the classic go to’s—egg salad, PB&J, deli meat + cheese—but stretch your imagination and give these different flavor combos a go:

Baked falafel with yogurt tahini sauce

Blogger Holly explains just how easy it is to make your own falafel at home, step-by-step. Then enjoy the results in this delicious wrap recipe and make all your coworkers jealous 😛 (From My Impossibly Tiny Kitchen).

Roasted chicken sandwich with fennel mustard

A classic combo of chicken, tomato and arugula spiced up with tangy Fennel Mustard and Garlic Aioli sauces to take it to the next level. (Kitchen Konfidence).

Vegan toona salad sandwich

Swap the fish for garbanzos in this easy-to-prep recipe. (Fueled Naturally).

Soups + Stews: The Ultimate Comfort Food


Sometimes you need a heartier meal to keep you fueled throughout the day especially in the cooler months. Plus, making one batch of soup can result in 3-4 lunches, or you can freeze the leftovers for later.

Try one of these flavor-filled recipes to fill your belly:

Caldo de camaron

Packs a punch of flavor thanks to the guajillo chile and homemade shrimp stock base (Mama Maggie’s Kitchen).

Farmer’s market tomato basil soup [Vegan, GF]

As simple as it gets: throw tomato, peppers, olive oil and vinegar in a blender and blitz. (Migraine Relief Recipes)

Instant pot chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric [Vegan, GF]

Sit back and let your Instant Pot do all the work! Sub canned beans for beans soaked overnight if you’re short on time. (Kitchen Konfidence).

Spicy sausage, kale and potato soup [GF, Dairy-Free]

A warming classic for colder days. (From My Impossibly Tiny Kitchen).

Vegan Mexican albondigas soup

All the flavors you love in a Mexican soup but purely plant-based. (Fueled Naturally).

No Time? Online ordering tips

We all have days where we’re running late or simply don’t have the energy to prep and pack a healthy desk lunch.

Plan in advance for those situations and save valuable time with these tips:

  • Start a list of restaurants closest to your office.

    If you have an online food delivery app, save your favorite spots.

  • Make a note of their ordering process.

    Jot down their phone number, website link or which app you can order with (Doordash, UberEats, etc.)

  • Write down 3-5 lunch options from each restaurant.

    This will save you time and help you stick to your way of eating.

  • Keep the list handy on your phone or save it on your computer desktop.
  • Set a daily reminder on your calendar to place and schedule your order.

Bottom Line

Sticking to healthy eating habits at work can be tough. But with a little meal planning and prep work at home, you can make every desk lunch healthy but more importantly—delicious!

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