Healthy eating at work: 5 clean eating lunch tips


Nagina Abdullah


December 28, 2018

Healthy eating at work

Healthy eating at work can be challenging for busy people. It’s easy to forget to eat or skip meals when there’s no time to think about and much less sit down and eat a meal.

I wanted to eat healthy at lunch, but I never got the planning and shopping details organized in enough time. Then, my morning would fly by, lunchtime would come, and I suddenly felt like I was starving.

The quickest option was the local cafeteria where I could eat something slightly icky tasting and mostly pre-packaged. Not only was this an underwhelming lunch for my palate, but it was also lacking any real nutrients. So, my hunger was quieted, but my body didn’t feel great after eating it.

This left me with the only option of having to order something in. As you all know however, I usually prefer to follow a low sodium diet that is packed with important antioxidants and other body-strengthening compounds.

On work-from-home days, I might fall back on warming up a fast convenience meal like a frozen dinner, just to get something in me quickly so I could survive the rest of the day. Again, this was essentially dead food. It was taking care of the hungry feeling, but it wasn’t strengthening my immune system or my metabolism.

I know it’s not easy dreaming up clean eating lunch ideas for work. Who has the time? You’re just trying to get through each day. But eating healthy at lunch can be done with a few smart strategies.

After implementing these strategies I started to get all the benefits of what happens when you eat healthy, like better focus and brain power, getting better sleep, and squashing sugar cravings.

So, I put together 5 clean eating lunch tips and 7 easy, packable recipes for healthy eating at work.

In this article, I’ll show you

  • Simple, but genius-level ideas for making healthy lunches more packable
  • 7 “Why didn’t I think of that?!” easy and healthy recipes with a huge variety of textures and taste
  • Salads that you’ll actually look forward to eating (and might even fantasize about when it’s almost lunchtime)

Easy clean eating lunch ideas for work

Tip #1: Pack a lunch in a jar

It’s so easy to pour healthy ingredients into a jar, maybe even the night before, and just grab in the morning. The beauty of the jar is that it won’t spill on your commute, it’s easy to eat from at your desk, and easy to rinse and take home to reuse.

I LOVE jar lunches!

Scoopable Skinny Burrito in a Jar

This Skinny Burrito in a Jar from Skinny Ms. is a great jar lunch with mild or spicy flavor. It’s scoopable but doesn’t turn to mush.

Healthy Eating at work: Skinny Ms Burrito in a jar
Beans are packed with fiber and other belly fat fighting ingredients. Get an easy, comforting recipe for healthy crock pot beans here.
Healthy Eating at work: Skinny Ms Burrito in a jar

Scoopable Skinny Burrito in a Jar

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 cup salsa no sugar added`
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt, non-fat (optional non-fat sour cream)


  • Evenly divide each ingredient into 4 (1/2 pint size) canning jars. Add ingredients in this order: 1/4 cup salsa, 1/4 heaping cup black beans, 1/4 cup cheese, and 2 tablespoons yogurt or sour cream.
  • Refrigerate for up to two days. Eat straight from the jar or add to a whole wheat wrap.
  • TIP: Try adding 1/4 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice to each jar.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Savory Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfait

Parfaits can be savory and satisfying for healthy eating at work. Here’s a delicious one by From the Land We Live On. I recommend using Greek yogurt to make sure there’s enough protein to hold you over for the afternoon.

Healthy Eating at Work_Minty Yogurt Parfait

Savory Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfait

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 2 servings


  • 2 cups grated cucumber
  • 2 cups sheep’s milk, full fat, or Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas


  • It’s really important to draw most of the juice out of the cucumbers, otherwise the end result will be swimming in cucumber juice. Once the cukes are grated, collect them in a paper towel or cheese cloth and use your hands to squeeze out as much juice as you can. Set cucumbers aside in a strainer to let any remaining liquid drain.
  • Combine the yogurt and chopped mint and season well with salt and pepper. Stir it all together.
  • Starting with the raisins, followed by chickpeas, cucumbers, and yogurt, layer each of the ingredients, divided between jars.
  • Top with chopped walnuts and a few mint leaves.
  • Alternatively, if you’re not into the layering thing, you can just mix it all together and store accordingly.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

 Mint is a dream spice for weight loss. It’s soothing, refreshing, and curbs hunger pangs. Get a Flat Tummy Water Recipe in this FREE Mint Cheat Sheet.

Tip #2: Swap noodles for zucchini zoodles or other veggies

Chicken Curry Cup of Noodles

Eating Well offers a fun, healthy spin on the traditional cup of noodles. This recipe uses low-carb, nutrient-rich zucchini noodles instead of the starchy, empty calories in the original.

Plus, it gives us a flavor boost with a chicken curry flavor. Yum!!

Healthy Eating at Work_Chicken Curry Cup of Noodles

Chicken Curry Cup of Noodles

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad
Servings 3 servings


  • 3 teaspoons reduced-sodium chicken bouillon paste, divided
  • 6 teaspoons red curry paste, divided
  • 6 tablespoons coconut milk, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetable mix, divided
  • 9 ounces chopped cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups spiralized zucchini noodles, divided
  • 3 teaspoons chopped cilantro, divided
  • 3 cups very hot water, divided


  • Add 1 teaspoon bouillon paste, 2 teaspoons curry paste and 2 tablespoons coconut milk to each of three 1½-pint canning jars. Layer ½ cup vegetables, 3 ounces chicken and ½ cup noodles in each jar. Top each with 1 teaspoon cilantro. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • To prepare one jar of noodles: Add 1 cup very hot water to a jar. Cover and shake to combine. Uncover and microwave on High in 1-minute increments until steaming hot, 2 to 3 minutes total. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir before eating.
  • To make ahead: Prepare through Step 1. Refrigerate covered jars for up to 3 days.


  • Equipment: Three 1½-pint wide-mouth canning jars
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Get more ideas for easy meal planning that will give you fuel and keep you moving forward here.

Beginners How-To Guide for Easy Meal Planning

Easy Spicy VEGAN One-Week Meal Plan

Easy Spicy PALEO One Week Meal Plan

Clean lunch ideas for weight loss

Tip#3: Salads are still a winner

Salads might be the first thing you think of for healthy eating at work. But they don’t have to be boring. I cannot force myself to eat bland, iceberg lettuce with no flavorful toppings, and you shouldn’t either. They must have protein or you won’t be satisfied and you’ll binge on something later.

Mediterranean Spinach and Tuna Salad

This Mediterranean Tuna Spinach Salad from Eating Well is so simple but packed with diverging flavors of tuna, orange, and feta to make eating lunch an experience, rather than just something to fill you up.

Healthy Eating at Work_Mediterranean Spinach and Tuna Salad

Mediterranean Spinach and Tuna Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 serving


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 5-ounce can chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 4 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 2 cups baby spinach,
  • 1 medium orange peeled or sliced


  • Whisk tahini, lemon juice and water together in a bowl. Add tuna, olives, feta and parsley; stir to combine. Serve the tuna salad over 2 cups spinach, with the orange on the side.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Grilled Chicken and Blueberry Salad

Another savory and sweet combo, try this Grilled Chicken and Blueberry Salad from Skinny Ms. It’s another flavor-popping salad that will have you rethinking the salad stereotype and heading for the mixed greens with a grin.

To make healthy eating at work even easier, skip cooking the chicken breasts and buy a whole rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, remove the skin and slice it up for your salad.

Healthy Eating at Work_Grilled Chicken and Blueberry Salad

Grilled Chicken and Blueberry Salad

Course Salad
Servings 4 servings


  • 5 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts, cooked


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large bowl, toss the greens, blueberries, almonds, and chicken breasts until well mixed.
  • For the salad dressing, combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, blueberries, and honey in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Tip #4: If you like handheld meals for lunch, try making sandwiches or wraps with a big leafy green like kale or chard instead of using bread

No time to cook? Here are some ideas for no-cook healthy meals, low-sugar smoothies, and more help for stressful times!

10 ways to eat healthy without cooking

6 low sugar smoothies to start your day

Stop sugar cravings (even when you’re stressed!)

Portable healthy fats for healthy eating at work

Tip#5: Avocados are portable and packed with omega 3s, a healthy fat that your brain and body need and can’t make on their own. It’s also a healthy fat that fills you up and sustains you through the afternoon (1), especially when combined with high-protein Greek yogurt.

Healthy Eating at Work_Avocado
Nuts, dark chocolate, and more yummy foods to help you fight belly fat in this post.

Crab and Pimiento Stuffed Avocados

Healthy eating at work can be fun and inventive. Like with enjoying the benefits of avocado in creative mini bowls. Crab and Pimiento Stuffed Avocados from Eating Well can easily be assembled and packed at home, or brought to the office as parts of the whole to be assembled at lunch.

Healthy Eating at Work_crab stuffed avocados

Crab and Pimiento Stuffed Avocados

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 4 servings


  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons pimientos, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 2/3 cups cooked crabmeat, picked over
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved
  • Lemon wedges for garnish


  • Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, pimientos, garlic, cayenne and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in crab. Adjust seasoning with cayenne and salt.
  • Divide the crab salad among avocado halves. Serve with lemon wedges.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Chicken Salad-Stuffed Avocados

Or another Eating Well take on avocado bowls are these Chicken Salad-Stuffed Avocados. Follow the same time-saving tip as for the grilled chicken and blueberry salad and use up your rotisserie chicken for this.

Healthy Eating at Work_Chicken Salad-Stuffed Avocados

Chicken Salad-Stuffed Avocados

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved (optional)
  • 1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 2 firm ripe avocados, halved and pitted


  • Place chicken in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the chicken registers 165°F with an instant-read thermometer, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Let stand until cool enough to handle, then chop or shred. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
  • Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, tarragon, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cold chicken, celery, grapes (if using) and pecans; stir to combine.
  • To serve, fill each avocado half with about ½ cup chicken salad. (Refrigerate the extra chicken salad for up to 3 days.)


  • To make ahead: Refrigerate chicken salad (Steps 1-2) for up to 3 days; fill avocados just before serving.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What are your favorite healthy eating at work lunches? I’m always looking for new ideas. Let me know what you’ve come up with that works for you!

 Take the edge off of powerful cravings with cooling mint. Get 5 ideas for adding mint to your diet in fun ways in this FREE Mint Cheat Sheet.

Mint for weight loss

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Nagina Sethi Abdullah, BA, MBA

Nagina Abdullah is a health coach for middle-aged women and professionals. She coaches women to boost their metabolism naturally, shed pounds and keep them off. Her work with weight loss clients led to the creation of Masala Body, an online weight loss platform that provides an easy and accessible system that helps women sustainably lose weight. She has helped over 1200 women successfully lose from 10-80 lbs and create a sustainable lifestyle change. Nagina earned her degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley.

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