We did the legwork to find the best options–bon appetit!
What are you having for lunch today at work?
It’s a timeless question, the answer to which can mean a joy-filled oasis in the middle of the workday, or a swift slump into despair when you pull that lonely-looking hardboiled egg and somewhat shriveled bunch of grapes out of the employee lounge fridge.
Sure, you could eat a gourmet, healthy work lunch every day if you spent a pretty penny or spent enough time in the kitchen every morning. But between dropping kids off at daycare, rushing to fire off a quick email, and simply getting a shower in, it’s a pretty tall order.
Which is why we’ve compiled 100 of the best, the easiest, the healthiest, and the most delicious work lunch options for your culinary pleasure. These bulk recipes, frozen meals, canned and boxed options have all tickled our palate and are your best bet for a great, reasonably healthy midday meal.
Keep reading, and never sit through a sad desk lunch again!
Bulk recipes are a great way to set yourself up for several days of delicious, cost-effective healthy work lunches. Make a larger batch for dinner on Sunday evening, then portion out the leftovers in several Tupperware containers to grab on your way out the door in the morning!
If you’re thinking to yourself “I don’t know about this…I’m not a huge fan of leftovers,” we humbly suggest that these recipes might make you reconsider your position. Some foods simply save better than others–and all of the recipes on this list are actually better the next day!
Salads can be hit or miss when it comes to dishes that make great leftovers. These recipes have been tested, approved, and will keep your tummy going through the workday.
1. Orzo Teriyaki Salad: This Asian-inspired dish is filled with crisp veggies, teriyaki chicken, and a savory dressing.
2. Sesame Ginger Soba Noodle Salad with Ribboned Asparagus: Tangy sesame ginger dressing with soba noodles and asparagus make this a healthy option that is tasty, healthy, and saves well.
3. Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli: The flavors in this healthy, tasty dish meld even better as leftovers.
4. Broccoli Sunflower Salad: Crunchy, tangy, and saves like a charm! This broccoli sunflower salad is packed with goodness and topped with a sweet and salty dressing.
5. Cranberry and Cilantro Quinoa Salad: Healthy, easy, and full of flavor. Quinoa is a great option for filling, tasty work lunches that save well.
6. Crunchy Asian Ramen Salad: The sweet and savory dressing with the crunch of ramen noodles and veggies make this salad a winner. Add some chopped chicken if desired!
7. Greek Pasta Salad: No need to even microwave this one! Just prepare and portion this yummy greek-inspired pasta salad filled with veggies and a light dressing.
A hot meal in the middle of the workday is always something to look forward to. These recipes taste great, save well, and heat up easily in the microwave.
8. Cauliflower Marranca: Don’t let these simple ingredients fool you. Cauliflower Marranca is easy, filling, and incredibly tasty–plus it gets better on the second, third, and even fourth day!
9. Russian Macaroni and Cheese: This isn’t your typical macaroni and cheese. Filled with veggies and whole wheat pasta, it saves like a champ and makes a filling, tasty work lunch.
10. Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole: This dish takes a little more time to prepare, but it’s worth the effort and saves for days.
11. Quinoa Mac and Cheese: Dezzie says it all in her review: “Take the health benefits of quinoa and override them with a ton of cheese. You won’t regret it!” This one might not be the healthiest of the options, but it sure does make up for it in taste!
12. Spinach Quiche: Quiche saves surprisingly well and is easy to prepare too! Make your work lunch feel that much fancier with a delicious slice of gourmet quiche.
13. Baked Ziti: If you love pasta, baked ziti is a great option that saves well. It’s easy to make and easy to portion out for lunch over several days. (Use whole wheat pasta for more health benefits!)
14. Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Bake: You can’t go wrong with this delicious meal. Serve it over rice and portion it out for several days.
15. Moroccan Chicken: This Middle Eastern inspired dish is a delicious medley of spices and flavors that only get better over the course of a few days.
16. Chicken and Broccoli Fettuccini Skillet: One pan meals that save well? Yes, please! This dish is easy, filled with flavor, and only tastes better the next day.
Soups are the hero of delicious workplace lunches. With these recipes, you’ll get gourmet flavor, easy reheating, and the option to save and freeze for days and even weeks to come!
17. Lentil Soup: Make an extra large batch of this soup and freeze small portions for a meal that keeps on giving. Lentil soup only gets better with time in the fridge or freezer and is both filling and delicious.
18. Taco Soup: All the flavor of tacos with all the ease of soup. This one freezes well too, and is easy to make in just one pot.
19. Broccoli Cheese Soup: Looking forward to filling comfort food at lunchtime is a workday win. This broccoli cheese soup rivals Chili’s, and Megan says, “Watch out–this will knock your socks off!
20. Cha Cha’s White Chicken Chili: Another great freezer, White Chicken Chili is filled with flavor and will keep you full until dinner.
21. Creamy Chicken Soup: Cream cheese is the secret ingredient in this soup. It’s comfort food with a tangy twist that delivers for days.
Slow Cooker Meals
Take a few minutes to throw together these easy to make meals in the morning, and arrive home to delicious smells, ready food, and mouthwatering leftovers for days!
22. Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff: A classic recipe that saves well and tastes great for several days. Comfort food at its finest!
23. Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup: Imagine the best tortilla soup you’ve ever had in a restaurant–then make this recipe and prepare to have your mind blown! Make it up in bulk and freeze for later use or portion out over several days.
24. Best Ever Beef Stew: Not only will this stew fill you up and put a smile on your face at lunchtime, but it’ll make your house smell like a gourmet restaurant!
Moving along to our frozen friends, we enter significantly more dicey territory. We’ve all picked up a tasty-looking treat in the frozen food section, only to be met with something that looks like it was scooped out of an aquarium after all is said and microwaved. Lucky for you, these frozen meals are human-approved and worthy of your midday lunch break! Be sure to keep an eye on sodium content (ideally less than 600 milligrams) when you purchase any frozen meal, and look at the order of ingredients to ensure that proteins and veggies are near the top of the list.
Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with Amy’s frozen meals. They’re made with real, quality ingredients, the portion sizes are better than most, they’re vegetarian, and they taste like something you might order in a restaurant. They’re a little pricier than some (between 3 and 5 dollars), but worth every penny.
25. Amy’s Pad Thai: You’ll make every single one of your coworkers jealous with the smell alone! Garlicky, tangy goodness that rivals many restaurants.
26. Amy’s Broccoli Cheddar Bake: Pasta can be hit and miss, but the quality ingredients in this dish make it taste like it came from mom’s oven.
27. Amy’s Cheese Ravioli: No mystery filling here! This cheese ravioli is filled with delicious, real ingredients.
28. Amy’s Bean and Cheese Burritos: Many frozen burritos are about as enticing as a sock stuffed with beans. These are a notable exception!
29. Amy’s Mushroom Risotto: There’s no soggy risotto in Amy’s house.
30. Amy’s Enchilada Verde: Delicious sauce, and filled with beans, veggies, and cheese!
31. Amy’s Light and Lean Spinach Lasagna: The best frozen lasagne we’ve tried yet!
32. Amy’s Light and Lean Sweet and Sour Asian Noodle Bowl: If you like sweet and sour anything, you’ll love this dish.
33. Amy’s Light and Lean Pasta and Veggies: Fresh veggies and al dente pasta make this dish amazing.
34. Amy’s Light and Lean Spaghetti Italiano: Vegetarian meatballs? Preposterous, you say. Try them–you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
35. Amy’s Light and Lean Roasted Polenta: Light, buttery polenta is the star in this tasty (and light!) treat.
Healthy Choice stepped up their game by adding “steamers” to their menu. Most are pretty tasty, but these two top the list!
36. Healthy Choice Pineapple Chicken: The sweet, flavorful sauce and white meat, edamame, peppers, and whole grain brown rice make this meal stand out.
37. Healthy Choice Chicken Margherita with Balsamic: White meat chicken, roasted tomatoes and garlic, and angel hair pasta with a savory balsamic sauce.
You remember those Kashi commercials — “Seven whole grains on a mission”? They bring their same philosophy to frozen meals, which are made with real, quality ingredients and fare well in the microwave. These are our favorites!
38. Kashi Chicken Pasta Pomodoro: Whole grain penne, white meat grilled chicken, and delicious veggies like summer squash and tomato. We get hungry just typing about it!
39. Kashi Lemongrass Coconut Chicken: Not your typical frozen meal. Quinoa, tender chicken, crunchy veggies, and a bang-up lemon coconut sauce that has little pieces of coconut in it.
40. Kashi Chicken Enchiladas: The filling inside the whole-grain tortillas is a delicious mix of veggies and chicken, and you get a satisfying side of whole-grain rice and veggie pilaf on the side.
41. Kashi Chicken Chipotle BBQ: This one’s a bag steamer, so one serving can be saved for the next day or shared with a friend. Yummy veggies and chicken with a sweet chipotle sauce.
Evol is another good bet when it comes to frozen meals. They include whole grains, fresh veggies, and no mystery meats! These are our favorites:
42. Evol Bowls Teriyaki Chicken: The package boasts an “insanely tasty teriyaki sauce,” and we agree. If you love chicken teriyaki, this is a great bet.
43. Evol Fire Grilled Steak Bowl: Steak in a frozen meal should be scrutinized carefully, but we recommend this dish wholeheartedly!
44. Evol Chicken Sriracha Bowl: Mmm, the baby corn, snap peas, and that sweet and spicy sauce! This is one of our favorite frozen meals.
Luvo’s motto is “be good to you,” and that’s exactly what you’ll do when you eat one of their frozen meals. They feature delicious, fresh ingredients that come out of the microwave in remarkable shape!
45. Luvo Chicken Chile Verde: Polenta, chile verde sauce, pepita seeds, and of course roasted chicken make this dish an excellent choice.
46. Luvo Spinach Ricotta Ravioli: This tastes like something you might find in a restaurant, with a healthy, tasty turkey bolognese sauce to boot!
47. Luvo Orange Mango Chicken: Whole grains, broccoli, and kale with a bright and sweet mango orange sauce. Delicious!
Trader Joe’s has earned a reputation for quality meals in a snap, and rightly so. These are our favorites:
48. Trader Joe’s Cheese Enchiladas: A classic dish with Trader Joe’s special touch. Yum!
49. Trader Joe’s Veggie Burrito: Frozen burritos are a dime a dozen (sometimes literally), but this one is sure to tickle your tastebuds.
50. Trader Joe’s Organic Pesto Tortellini: Basil and tortellini belong together, and Trader Joe’s has done an amazing job with these flavors.
51. Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese: Comfort food coming right up! Classic mac and cheese done right in frozen format.
52. Trader Joe’s Tikka Masala: Seriously, it’s as good as a lot of Indian restaurants. Give it a try!
Lean Cuisine has a LOT of options on the table when it comes to frozen meals. These are the best in the pack, in our humble opinion!
53. Lean Cuisine Five Cheese Rigatoni: It’s simple, but it’s delicious, and the portion size will keep your tummy happy!
54. Lean Cuisine Ricotta Cheese and Spinach Ravioli: Organic ricotta cheese and tomatoes make this dish shine. It’s flavorful, filling, and tasty.
55. Lean Cuisine Cheese Ravioli: This classic doesn’t disappoint in Lean Cuisine’s iteration of the cheesy, saucy dish.
56. Lean Cuisine Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes: Meatloaf can be a dangerous proposition in a frozen meal, but trust us on this one: It’s tasty! The skin-on red mashed potatoes really make the meal too.
57. Lean Cuisine Chicken Parmesan: Cheesy, flavorful, and filling. It’s the triple axle of frozen meals.
58. Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish: Fish, you say? FISH in a frozen meal? That’s right. And it’s delicious.
59. Lean Cuisine Chicken Pecan: That maple bourbon sauce, tho! And with wild rice, cranberries, pecans, and sweet potatoes, it’s good for you too.
The mascot for these guys is literally made out of broccoli, so you know he’s going to have some great veggie dishes to offer. We loved these two the most!
60. Green Giant Steamers Pasta and Vegetables with Alfredo: If you’re an alfredo fan, look no further. The sauce is smooth and tasty, and the pasta and veggies come out great.
61. Green Giant Cheesy Rice and Broccoli: Having a rough day at work? This will turn your frown upside down quickly, with gooey cheese and broccoli so tender you’ll have a hard time believing it came from the microwave.
This brand delivers on its namesake with beautifully crafted microwaveable meals that you’d expect to find in a sunny streetside bistro.
62. Artisan Bistro Grass Fed Beef in Mushroom Sauce: No tough steak here. The beef is tender and flavorful and topped with a savory mushroom sauce.
63. Artisan Bistro Wild Salmon with Pesto: Fish again, you say? Yes! Artisan Bistro nails it with their salmon. It’s flaky, flavorful, and won’t make the whole office smell like fish.
More Delicious Frozen Meals
Last, but not least, make sure you try the following frozen meals. They’re some of our favorites!
64. Saffron Road Chicken Biryani: Basmati rice, chicken with caramelized onion–this one is a must-try.
65. CedarLane Eggplant Parmesan: Eggplant isn’t the easiest dish for most cooks–so can it really come out of the microwave in edible format? You bet it can, with this tasty meal.
66. Organic Bistro Sesame Ginger Wild Salmon Bowl: Fresh salmon with a side of quinoa and fresh veggies? Plus a killer sauce? It’s real, and delicious.
67. Helen’s Kitchen Fiesta Black Bean Bowl: Fiesta in your mouth is a great way to describe this healthy, hearty, flavorful bowl.
68. Phillips Honey Chipotle Shrimp Steamer: We see the skepticism in your eyes: more seafood? You’re right to be wary, but Phillips Honey Chipotle steamers are an exception!
69. Michael Angelo’s Chicken Piccata: Delicious artichokes, capers, chicken, and a lemon butter sauce to top it off. It’s like a little Italian restaurant appeared at your desk.
70. Udi’s Chicken Florentine: “Yum” is the only word to describe this dish. Creamy fusilli pasta, grilled chicken, spinach, and fire-roasted tomatoes. And gluten free to boot!
71. Sam’s Choice Twice Baked Potatoes: If you thought potatoes were only meant for the oven, think again. These taters are a satisfying, tasty lunch that’ll have you ready to face the rest of the day.
72. Caribbean Food Delights, Jamaican Style Mild Beef Turnovers: While not the most attractive-looking food, the taste of these turnovers more than makes up for it!
73. PF Chang’s Shrimp Lo Mein: Craving Chinese food? PF Chang’s to the rescue. This dish is quite comparable to the restaurant’s other offerings.
74. Weight Watchers Angel Hair Marinara: The sauce is the boss in this meal, and the zucchini is excellent!
75. Atkins Crustless Chicken Pot Pie: Whether you embrace the Atkins philosophy or not, the flavor of this crustless pot pie is amazing, and it’s a filling lunch!
76. Augason Farms Creamy Chicken Rice: The bag makes 4 servings, so share with a friend or save some for the following day. It’s full of flavor, and the rice has a good consistency.
How good can it taste if it comes out of a box or a can? The answer is “Pretty darn good” when you try these dishes. As with frozen meals, watch your sodium content, and heed the reviews (there’s nothing worse than a runny or watery bowl of soup for lunch!)
77. Whole Foods Italian Style Wedding Soup: A pretty incredible medley of meatballs and veggies in a savory broth.
78. True Primal Beef and Vegetable Soup: Tender chunks of beef, and chock full of veggies. This soup tastes like home cooking!
79. Andersen’s Split Pea Soup: If you like split pea soup, you’ll love this version. It’s thick, perfectly seasoned, and delicious.
80. Campbell’s Slow Kettle Style Southwest Chicken Chili with Beans: Just a bit of spice and a whole lot of delicious flavors in this southwestern style chili.
81. Tabatchnick Balsamic Tomato and Rice Soup: If you think you’ve had good tomato soup, think again. The name is hard to pronounce, but the soup is easy to gulp right up.
82. Progresso Traditional Chicken Noodle: This is a classic, and it’s chock full of noodles and veggies in a great-tasting broth.
83. Wolfgang Puck Classic Minestrone: Wolfgang Puck brings it in this classic dish packed with veggies and an amazing flavor.
84. Health Valley Organic Lentil Soup: No watery lentils here. This soup is thick, savory, and quite delicious.
85. Healthy Choice Country Vegetable Soup: Another terrific veggie option.
86. Go Soup Creamy Thai Style Chicken with Rice: Delicate coconut flavors with just a bit of spice and hearty rice and chicken.
87. Dinty Moore Beef Stew with Fresh Potatoes and Carrots: “I love this beef stew, I could eat it every day” says Stephanie. The veggies taste fresh and the meat is tender!
88. Chef Boyardee Whole Wheat Beefaroni: Chef Boyardee isn’t known for gourmet meals, but we’d encourage you to try their whole wheat variety! It’s a big step up in texture and actually quite delicious!
89. Hormel Compleats Cheese Manicotti with Meat Sauce: Manicotti is the best Compleats meal we tried. At 90 seconds in the microwave, it’s quick and tasty for days when you need to eat fast.
90. Barilla Tomato and Basil Penne: The pasta tastes like it’s fresh from the spaghetti pot, and the sauce is delicious!
91. Barilla Chicken Alfredo: Another good option from Barilla! Sauce and chicken in a dry meal are a feat, but it’s pretty tasty!
92. Simply Asia Garlic Basil Singapore Street Noodles: Filling, tasty, and spicy. These noodles pair well with any leftover veggies or meat you’d like to add as well!
93. Velveeta Broccoli and Cheese: The big name in cheese makes a meal that’s big on taste and quite filling.
94. GoPicnic Sunbutter and Crackers: Who could help but smile with sunbutter for lunch? This is a delicious little picnic of sunflower seed spread, applesauce, multigrain crackers, and more!
95. Pace Ready Meals Southwest Style Chicken: It’s quick, it’s tasty, and it’ll keep you full until dinner! What more can you ask of a lunch?
Trader Joe’s is the star of the show here, with a number of fresh, healthy options for work lunches if you have time to swing by the store on your way to the office. These meals will also save in the fridge for several days at a time if you’d rather stock up on the weekend!
96. Dole Fresh Express Salads: There’s an infinite variety of these, and we can’t choose just one. They’re all quite good, and they’re a great option for a filling work lunch, especially if you bring along an avocado or some leftover chicken to throw in.
97. Trader Joe’s Chicken Green Chile Tamales: These tasty little guys make an excellent lunch and are truly restaurant quality.
98. Trader Joe’s Black Bean and Cheese Taquitos: If you enjoy a good taquito (and who doesn’t?) look no further.
99. Trader Joe’s Organic Pea Soup: Tastes like home in the very best way!
100. Trader Joe’s Spring Rolls: These healthy little numbers are a tasty way to mix things up. They rival the ones you’d find in a Chinese restaurant.
Think Outside the Box
Love to eat a certain food but aren’t sure you can prepare it well at work? Think outside the box! If you love a good, fresh baked potato (they really aren’t the same refrigerated and then reheated), try this bag to get a perfect baked potato in the microwave. Top it with avocado, salsa, and a touch of sour cream and cheese for a delicious lunch! Love eggs but aren’t sure that’s a good idea to cook at work? We’d advise against scrambled or sunny side up, but poached and hard boiled eggs turn out great with these methods!
Did you know that even the simple act of plating a dish can drastically change how you feel about eating it? It can even improve the way it tastes to you (weird, but true!) Caroline Kaufman says, “People who eat in a fine dining setting consume fewer calories and enjoy their food more.” How can you amp things up? Use real dishes instead of paper (or transfer your microwaved food onto a bowl or plate instead of using your tupperware container). Use real silverware, and if you can, sit down at a table in the lounge for a few minutes instead of eating right in front of the computer.
Add an Extra Touch
Have some leftover chicken from the night before? Add it in with your frozen meal! Have a cucumber or tomato at home or in the garden? Chop it up and add it to your salad. Even adding a sprig of parsley or basil can up the ante on how your work lunch looks and tastes. Half the battle of a really decent work lunch is feeling like you’re eating something special–not just something you dragged out of the freezer because you had no other options. Find meals you’re excited about to begin with, then jazz them up a little with a small touch of your own!
Work lunch can be one of the highlights of your day if you plan just a little and know the best meal options out there. Here’s to smiles all around midday!