Finding healthy recipes to take with you to work or school can be a challenge. While most recipes are fine for leftovers, some recipes are better lunch options than others. For this post, we’re giving you 40 healthy lunch ideas for work or school along with some meal prep tips and tricks.

Healthy lunch ideas for work or school horizontal collage with text in the middle

Meal prep is the best option for easy lunches during the week

If you haven’t heard, we are huge advocates for meal prep! We even wrote a full how to meal prep blog post, where we outline some tips and strategies for successful meal prep. We think that prepping healthy food for lunches to take to work or send with the kiddos to school can be a game changer for you!

Some suggestions for prepping healthy lunches

When looking for healthy lunch ideas for work, it’s a good idea to consider the following:

  • Do you have an option to heat up your lunch, or will you be eating it cold? (Cold lunch options below)
  • Can you eat the same thing 5 days in a row, or do you like to mix it up?
  • What sounds good right now? Soups and casseroles might not be appealing in the heat of summer.
  • How much prep time do you have? Can you save time by making a Crockpot, Instant Pot or one pan/sheet pan meal?

If you don’t want to eat the same thing every day, here is what we suggest

Make up a batch of protein that you can pair with different vegetables/sides to make a completely new meal each day. See the protein recipes in the crockpot/instant pot section below for some ideas or roast up some chicken breasts or thighs in the oven with some simple seasonings.

Some ideas for making a different lunch with the same protein:

  • Salads or bowl meals (can use different dressings/toppings to make add some variety)
  • Wraps
  • Pair it with leftover roasted veggies
  • Serve over cauliflower rice
  • Tacos anyone?

Full meal recipes can make easy, healthy lunches

Another idea for easy lunch meal prep is to make recipes that include everything you need to make a full meal (protein, veggies, healthy fats). Think casseroles, one pan meals, sheet pan meals and soups. This way, you simply prep one or two recipes and use that for lunch during the week.

How do I store everything?

Storing the lunches you meal prep is important, because you want to be able to just pack your lunch in the morning (or night before), grab it, and go. We recommend getting Glasslock Containers (or similar) in different sizes for this. The lids are leak-proof and you can safely use them to re-heat food in the oven or microwave.

Containers with meat, sweet potato and veggies

Don’t forget your lunch box!

A small, soft lunch box is ideal for transporting your healthy lunch to work or school and keeping it cool until noon. Sometimes fridge space in the office is limited and the kids don’t have that option. We suggest getting an insulated bag that’s large enough to fit your containers and an ice packet. Some good options are:

  • Built brand – Very practical with several different style options for adults and kids.
  • Packit brand – This bag has the freezable gel built in, so you don’t need a separate ice pack. Tons of style options for adults and kids.

On to the listing of healthy lunch ideas for work or school

Healthy lunch ideas for work or school vertical collage with text in the middle

The listing is organized into sections. Click any of the links below to jump directly to the section you are interested in:

  • Cold – Recipes for full meals that can be eaten cold.
  • Instant Pot or Crockpot – Recipes that utilize these tools for easy prep and provide large batches of food that can be made into a variety of different lunches.
  • Sheet Pan and One Pan – Full meals that can be prepared in a sheet pan and packaged up for an easy lunch.
  • Soups – Make ahead soups for easy lunch reheating.
  • Casseroles – Full meals with large servings to make several lunches that reheat easily.


1. Chicken Bacon Club Collard Green Wrap from The Wooden Skillet

Stack of chicken, bacon and tomato wraps sliced in half

2. Fajita Salad with Steak from 40 Aprons

Sliced steak on top of veggies in a salad

3. Paleo and Whole30 Egg Salad from The Movement Menu

Egg salad in a bowl with diced onions on top angle shot

4. Taco Mason Jar Salad from Food Faith Fitness

Taco salad mason jars layered

5. Greek Chicken Salad from Real Food with Jessica

Greek chicken salad on a plate with 2 forks on right

6. Italian Chicken Zoodle Salad from The Whole Cook

Italian chicken zoodle salad in a wooden bowl angle shot

7. Keto Chicken Salad from Real Simple Good

Keto chicken salad in a bowl with bacon bits

8. Meal Prep Mason Jar Asian Salad from Tastythin

Mason jar asian salad straight on shot

9. Loaded Burger Bowls with Special Sauce from 40 Aprons

Loaded burger bowls with special sauce drizzle on top

10. Turkey Collard Green Wraps from Real Simple Good

Turkey collard green wraps cut in half angle shot


11. BBQ Pulled Chicken from Real Simple Good

BBQ pulled chicken in a bowl with bbq sauce on top

12. Slow Cooker Meatballs in Marinara Sauce from Paleo Running Momma

Meatballs in marinara in a large bowl

13. Slow Cooker Hawaiian Shredded Chicken from The Real Food Dieticians

Shredded chicken wraps cut in half and stacked vertically

14. Instant Pot Carnitas from Whole Kitchen Sink

Carnitas shredded in a bowl with lime

15. Beef Barbacoa from Real Simple Good

Beef barbacoa in a bowl with rice and lime wedges

16. Chicken Cacciatore from Wholesomelicious

Chicken Cacciatore in a skillet with spoon coming out

17. Jamaican Jerk Pork Roast from I Breathe I’m Hungry

Jerk pork roast shredded close up

18. Korean Beef Stew from Food Faith Fitness

Korean beef stew in a bowl with soft boiled egg cut in half

19. Sweet Potato Chicken Curry from The Real Food Dieticians

Chicken curry in two bowls with cauliflower rice

20. Crockpot Beef Roast and Veggies from Real Simple Good

Beef roast and veggies in 3 ramekins


21. Chicken Fajita Bake from Real Simple Good

Chicken fajita bake on sheet pan with limes

22. Sheet Pan Sausage and Veggies from The Whole Cook

Sheet pan sausage and veggies on sheet pan

23. Butter Herb Steak and Veggies from Whole Kitchen Sink

Butter herb steak and veggies on sheet pan with carrots, potatoes and onion

24. Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Vegetable Sheet Pan from The Recipe Critic

Cajun shrimp and sausage with veggies on a sheet pan

25. One Pan Mediterranean Roast Chicken from Primavera Kitchen

Mediterranean roast chicken in a pan with veggies

26. Egg Roll in a Bowl from Real Simple Good

Egg roll in a bowl with sesame seeds on top

27. Shrimp and Butternut Squash Noodles with Curry Peanut Sauce from Eat the Gains

Shrimp and butternut squash noodles in a pan with broccoli and bell pepper

28. Cauliflower Risotto with Bacon and Mushrooms from Paleo Running Momma

Cauliflower risotto with bacon and mushrooms in casserole dish

29. Creamy Garlic Chicken from Castaway Kitchen

Creamy garlic chicken on a plate with zoodles and creamy sauce on top

30. Mongolian Beef from What Great Grandma Ate

Mongolian beef on a plate with green onions, sesame seeds and hands with chopsticks.


31. Creamy Ham and Potato Soup from The Real Food Dieticians

Ham and potato soup in a bowl with carrots and parsley

32. Creamy Taco Soup from The Movement Menu

Taco soup in a bowl with onion, jalapeno and avocado

33. Sausage Soup with Roasted Garlic from Real Simple Good

Sausage soup with potatoes and kale in a bowl with spoon sticking out

34. Healthy Hamburger Soup from The Whole Cook

Hamburger soup in a bowl with green beans, carrots, tomato and parsley

35. Chicken Soup with “Rice” from Paleo Running Momma

Two bowls of chicken soup with cauliflower rice, carrots and parsley


36. Healthy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole from Real Simple Good

Chicken and broccoli casserole with bacon in dish at an angle

37. Beef Taco Casserole from Eat the Gains

Piece of beef taco casserole on a plate with jalapeno on top

38. Creamy Chicken Brussels Sprouts and Bacon from Paleo Running Momma

Creamy chicken brussels sprouts and bacon in a dish with spoon coming out

39. Paleo Baked Spaghetti from Real Food with Jessica

Baked spaghetti in a pan with scoop being picked up with spatula

40. Creamy Sausage and Potato Casserole from Whole Kitchen Sink

Sausage and potato casserole in a dish with spinach and mushrooms
4.67 from 3 ratings
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40+ Healthy Lunch Ideas: Beef Barbacoa

This healthy beef barbacoa can be made in your Instant Pot or Slow Cooker. It's a little smoky with some spice and citrus, and it makes lots of leftovers! Plus, we have 40 other healthy lunch ideas for work and school.


  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into 2 inch cubes , (can also use beef brisket)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, (about 2 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice, (about 2 limes)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder, (can be spicy, adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp oregano, (fresh or dried)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp ghee, (or other cooking oil)

For topping/serving:

  • romaine lettuce, (or sub Siete Tortillas or other sturdy lettuce)
  • cilantro
  • avocado
  • lime wedges


  • Cut beef into cubes and set aside. Prep onion and garlic as noted.
  • Combine orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, tomato paste, cumin, chipotle powder, oregano, salt and ground cloves in a bowl or jar and mix well.
  • Press the sauté button on the instant pot and add ghee. Once hot, add in the beef and brown it on all sides. Press cancel on the instant pot once the beef is browned.
  • Add in the diced onion and garlic cloves and pour the juice/seasoning mixture all over everything.
  • Secure the lid on the instant pot and close the pressure valve. Press the “manual” button (or “pressure cook” button) and set the time to cook for 30 minutes at high pressure. Once the time is up, let the pressure naturally release on its own for 20 minutes.
  • Manually release any remaining pressure and remove the lid. Shred the beef with two forks.
  • Serve beef in bowls over greens, in lettuce wedges or in tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Slow cooker instructions:

  • Follow steps 1-2 above.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add ghee. Once hot, add in beef cubes to brown, just a minute or so on each side until all sides are browned. Transfer beef to the slow cooker.
  • Add in the diced onion and garlic cloves and pour the juice/seasoning mixture all over everything.
  • Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Once the beef is finished, shred it in the slow cooker with two forks and mix it with all the juices. Serve as noted above.

Optional step (for crispy beef barbacoa):

  • Set your oven to broil.
  • After shredding the beef, use a slotted spoon to remove the beef and onions from the instant pot and place on a large sheet pan. Spoon some of the juices from the instant pot over the top of the beef in the sheet pan.
  • Place in the oven to broil for 6-8 minutes, until the beef begins to develop some brown and crispy edges. Watch carefully and cook to your preference.
  • Alternatively, you can simply transfer some of the beef to a skillet over medium heat and cook it until it’s crispy, stirring occasionally. This method is easiest if you are re-heating the leftovers from the fridge.

Last Step:

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Nutrition facts are an estimate provided for those following a Ketogenic or low-carb diet and do not include topping/serving items for this recipe. See our full nutrition information disclosure here
Calories: 368kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 10g
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