Search IconSearch
November 8, 2020/Diet, Food & Fitness/Recipes

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Busy Days

Quick to prepare — or those you can make ahead

A bowl of chili with chunks of butternut squash

Whether you eat lunch at home these days while WFH or pack it to take along, having a healthy (and tasty!) lunch you feel good about can sometimes make or break your day.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite lunch recipes to help you power through your day — and keep you full enough to avoid mindless snacking come 3 p.m.

They may take more planning than swinging through the drive-thru or ordering in, but they’re easier on your waistline and your wallet, too.


Recipe: Tomato Soup With Chickpeas and Lentils

This Indian-inspired vegetarian soup is easy to throw in your slow cooker in the morning if you’re an early riser. Or make it ahead — and it freezes well.

Tomato Soup With Chickpeas and Lentils

Recipe: Black Bean Soup With Charred Poblano Pepper

Looking for something quick and filling? This soup is for you. It comes together in under a half-hour and is bursting with flavor from poblano pepper, paprika and cumin.

Black Bean Soup With Poblano Peppers

Recipe: Mexican Chicken and Lime Soup

This Mexican-inspired soup features zesty lime, fresh radishes and a touch of heat from jalepeño. And it’s all ready for lunch in just 25 minutes.

Mexican Chicken and Lime Soup


Recipe: Raw Kale Salad With Pine Nuts, Currants + Kalamata Olives

If you’re stuck thinking salad means iceberg lettuce, it’s easy to break out of the rut using the superfood kale. It features lots of different flavors and a satisfying crunch!

Raw Kale Salad With Pine Nuts, Currants + Kalamata Olives

Recipe: California Kale Cobb Salad

If you enjoy a classic Cobb, give our California Kale Cobb a try. To save time around your lunch hour, chop your kale and bake the bacon in advance.

California Kale Cobb Salad

Recipe: Red Cabbage Salad With Capers and Raisins

This simple salad’s flavor develops in the fridge overnight, so prep it the night before and you’ll be rewarded with a tasty lunch — filled with brain-healthy antioxidants.

Cabbage Onion Salad


Recipe: Easy Chicken Salad

This chicken salad is great for when you’re out of ideas, but are looking for something the whole family can chow down in little time. It features chunks of chicken tossed with Greek yogurt, tart dried cranberries, crisp Granny Smith apples and rosemary.

Chicken Salad

Recipe: Chicken and Broccoli Slaw Wrap

When you make wraps, it’s best to use fresh vs. processed meats. Try this delicious lunch, featuring shredded chicken (use a rotisserie chicken to save time).

Chicken and Broccoli Slaw wrap

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Chili

Once you’ve got your ingredients prepped and sautéed, this chili only takes another 45 minutes to simmer. So it’s doable if you’re working from home, or you can always finish it in your crockpot and have it the next day to last the week.

Chicken Chili


Recipe: Taco Salad With Beef and Avocado

When you’re craving a taco salad, don’t hit the drive-thru. Try this healthy version with grass-fed beef, cumin and chili powder, on a bed of mesclun and red cabbage.

Taco Salad

Recipe: Lettuce-Wrapped, Stuffed Bison Burgers

If you’re trying to cut carbs, try these bun-less bison burgers for a change. Once you prep them, you can throw them on the grill or broil them.

Lettuce-Wrapped, Stuffed Bison Burgers

Recipe: Spicy Beef Chili With Butternut Squash

If you use pre-packed diced butternut squash, this flavorful chili can come together in time for a filling lunch. You can also prep your onions and peppers the night before to save yourself even more time.

Beef Chili With Butternut Squash


Recipe: 5-Minute Fish Tacos

These tacos are perfect for lunch because they come together so fast. Use any thawed frozen or fresh firm, white fish. Try flounder, cod, snapper or tilapia.

Fish Tacos


Recipe: Fish Chowder

This fish chowder makes plenty of leftovers. Make it for dinner one night and then the rest stays good for lunches in the fridge for five days.

Fish Chowder

Recipe: Cold Asian Noodle Salad With Salmon

This Asian-inspired dish hits the spot when takeout temptation strikes. Chilled noodles are topped with cucumber, salmon and a delicious garlic sauce.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad With Salmon


Recipe: Eggless Tofu Salad Sandwich

Whether you’re vegetarian or not, this eggless tofu salad is a tasty lunch — with customizable toppings, depending on your mood or what you have on hand.

Eggless Tofu Salad Sandwich

Recipe: Mac and Cheese

Sure, it takes longer than the kind that comes in a box. But you won’t regret it and your kids (or you!) will still gobble it down.

Mac and Cheese

Recipe: Sandwich on a Stick

If you’re feeling lazy (or crunched for time), this recipe is essentially a deconstructed sandwich. But sometimes just presenting something differently is enough to make it new and fun.

Sandwich on a Stick


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Bowl of Asian chicken slaw mixture with stacked tortillas, ginger and hoisin sauce
June 11, 2024/Recipes
Recipe: Asian Chicken Wraps With Shiitake Mushrooms

Make these tasty wraps in under 30 minutes

Cold pizza wraps on plate with carrots and grapes
May 7, 2024/Recipes
Recipe: Cold Pizza Wrap

A fun and easy packed lunch!

Jelly on a piece of bread with peanut butter
April 30, 2024/Recipes
Recipe: Fruit-Forward PB&J

This classic sandwich offers all the protein and flavor without the additives and added calories

Lettuce-wrapped burgers with tomato, in white bowls atop crumpled brown bag
April 23, 2024/Recipes
Recipe: Lettuce-Wrapped, Stuffed Bison Burgers

Lose the bun, enjoy the fun!

Meal prepping various dishes for snack, lunch and dinner
January 29, 2024/Recipes
75 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

No more scrambling to figure out what to eat during your busy week

broccoli and cheese baked potatoes
January 8, 2024/Recipes
Recipe: Low-Fat Broccoli and Cheese Baked Potatoes

Only 90 calories per serving

Spring veggie and grain bowl
May 3, 2023/Recipes
Spring Veggie and Grain Bowl Recipe

You’ll know spring has sprung with this light, veggie recipe

Sandwiches on a stick
March 29, 2023/Recipes
Recipe: Sandwich on a Stick

Break out of the lunchbox rut

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims