When you have a busy work schedule, it’s not always easy to get your hands on a filling, nutritious lunch.
Eating healthy takes effort and planning — and often gets put on the back burner during hectic workweeks. Plus, if you have limited breaks during the workday, you have less time to eat a complete meal.
That’s why men who work long hours often rely on fast food, highly processed snacks like chips and cookies, or takeout meals to fill them up on their lunch breaks.
While these options are convenient and don’t require planning, they aren’t always the most nutritious lunch choices and can put a dent in your wallet as well.
Fortunately, you can choose from numerous healthy and delicious lunch options, including meal-prep-friendly recipes and deli options.
Here are 12 simple lunch ideas for men at work, plus a few tips.
Whether you’re getting takeout from the local deli or meal prepping your lunch at home, it’s important to start with the basics.
Although men have varying dietary needs and may follow specific diets to manage health conditions, a nutritious, balanced meal should generally contain sources of protein, fat, and fiber.
Protein is the most filling macronutrient, so it’s especially important to add one or more protein sources to your lunch. This will keep you full between meals, giving you the energy you need to power through your workday (
Fibrous foods such as vegetables and fruits are also filling and provide benefits for gut health and weight management (
Despite fiber’s importance, most American men consume only half the currently recommended fiber intake of 38 grams per day for adult men ages 19–50. Low fiber intake may increase your risk of health conditions like colon cancer, constipation, and heart disease (
Additionally, lunches with nutrient-dense ingredients can help men meet their needs for vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds, some of which are rare in modern diets high in processed foods.
For example, studies show that men may not consume enough of certain essential nutrients, such as magnesium and vitamin C. Deficiency in vitamin C is commonly related to low fruit and vegetable intake (
However, it’s easy to boost your nutrient intake by making a few small changes to your diet, such as switching to a healthier lunch option.
When planning a healthy lunch, consider the different macronutrients and how you can combine them to form a complete meal.
Here are some sources of fat, protein, and fiber-rich carbs that make great choices for lunch:
- Fiber-rich carbs: vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains like quinoa and farro
- Protein: chicken, fish, shellfish, turkey, lentils, tofu, and eggs
- Healthy fats: olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocado, full fat Greek yogurt, and goat cheese
Creating a meal with whole, nutritious ingredients like the ones above can help you meet your nutrient needs while providing a convenient, delicious, work-friendly lunch.
If you’re new to cooking or stumped over what to order at your local deli, try choosing an option from each category above.
For example, if you’re trying to find a healthier alternative to your go-to fried chicken sandwich and chips at the deli, try creating a hot plate with grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and a vegetable mixture.
The following meal ideas are balanced options that contain a variety of nutritious ingredients. You can modify most of the recipes and meal ideas below to suit many diets, including vegetarian and low carb.
Planning your lunches ahead of time is a good idea for many reasons.
Meal prepping may also help you reach or maintain a healthy body weight. That’s because people who cook more meals at home tend to eat fewer overall calories and make healthier food choices than those who eat more meals outside the home (
If you’re new to meal prep, start by prepping a few lunches on your days off. You can even make a larger batch that covers both lunch and dinner for a few days.
Here are several options for meal-prep-friendly lunches that are perfect to bring to work.
1. Greek Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
These Greek Chicken Meal Prep Bowls from Damn Delicious are a perfect choice for those new to meal prep.
This dish is packed with healthy ingredients, takes just 1 hour to prep, and requires minimal cooking skills.
It contains plenty of protein from the chicken and the Greek yogurt-based tzatziki sauce. It’s also loaded with ingredients that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, such as brown rice and veggies.
2. Chipotle Turkey Sweet Potato Chili
If you’re looking for a hearty lunch that’s perfect for cold weather, look no further than this Chipotle Turkey Sweet Potato Chili from the Real Food Dietitians.
This chili is bean-free, which makes it a good choice for men who don’t eat beans. Of course, if you like beans, you can always add them.
Despite being bean-free, this dish has plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals thanks to the turkey, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. This recipe is perfect for slow cookers and Instant Pots. You can make a large batch and store it in the fridge or freezer for a quick lunch option.
3. Mediterranean Salmon
Salmon is an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and minerals such as potassium and selenium, which are especially important to men’s health.
Salmon is also high in selenium, which functions as an antioxidant and protects against cellular damage. According to research, higher blood levels of selenium may help reduce your risk of prostate cancer (
This easy Mediterranean Salmon recipe from Fit Foodie Finds combines salmon with fiber-rich Greek salad and a side of couscous. It’s a perfect choice for meal prep.
4. Stuffed sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great choice for a filling lunch because they’re easy to prepare, go well with numerous other foods, can be baked ahead of time, and are a great base for meal-prep dishes.
This root veggie is also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, and manganese, as well as fiber (
Check out these plant-based stuffed sweet potato recipe ideas from Love & Lemons or create your own dish by loading a baked sweet potato with ingredients such as beans, chicken, and roasted vegetables.
5. Grain bowls
Grain bowls are a go-to for many meal-prep enthusiasts because they’re easy to make and extremely versatile.
Start by cooking a large batch of a grain of your choice, such as brown rice, quinoa, or buckwheat. Then prepare other fiber- or protein-rich ingredients to create a delicious bowl that you can take to work.
Here are a few grain bowl recipes that are sure to hit the spot come lunchtime:
- Ginger Chicken Power Bowls. A creamy lime dressing tops chicken, vegetables, quinoa, and other tasty ingredients.
- 30-Minute Greek Shrimp Grain Bowl. This recipe combines marinated shrimp with veggies and a lemon garlic yogurt sauce.
- Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl. This vegan-friendly grain bowl is high in plant protein but can also be topped with a hard-boiled egg or two if you want more protein.
Meal prep can save you time and even improve certain aspects of health. The balanced recipes above are meal-prep-friendly and make a smart lunch choice for men.
For days when you don’t have time to prepare lunch at home, you can build a healthy lunch at a deli or restaurant by paying attention to nutritious, filling ingredients.
Here are some meal ideas you can order on the go.
6. Deli or grocery hot lunch
Most delis and grocery stores have numerous hot prepared foods.
When building a lunch from a hot food bar, create a balanced meal by combining a protein source with a non-starchy vegetable and a fiber-rich carb source such as a starchy veggie or grain.
Men who are following lower carb diets can simply increase the serving size of non-starchy vegetables and protein and choose a smaller portion of carb-rich ingredients or none at all.
Here are some combinations you can try:
- roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, and a side salad
- turkey breast, a grain salad, and roasted broccoli
- black beans over brown rice and vegetables
7. Salad bars
Some grocery stores and restaurants offer salad bars, which make for a convenient lunch option.
Salad bar options vary significantly, but most offer several types of greens, grains, and salad toppings.
Choosing a salad for lunch can help you increase your intake of vegetables such as leafy greens, as well as other healthy foods like beans and seeds. However, a salad needs to be filling and contain enough calories to be considered a healthy lunch option.
When building a salad, choose a base of greens like spinach or mixed greens, then a protein source like hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, or lentils. Next, add toppings like roasted veggies, sunflower seeds, and a bit of cheese.
If possible, steer clear of sugary dressings such as honey mustard and raspberry vinaigrette and instead top your salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or a low sugar dressing of your choice.
8. Burrito bowls
Many Mexican chain restaurants, such as Chipotle, offer healthy lunch options that you can customize to suit your dietary needs.
If you don’t have time to prep lunch at home or forgot your lunch for the day, hot food bars, salad bars, and burrito bowls are healthy choices that are available in many areas.
If you have access to a kitchen at work, you may be able to store frozen meals in the freezer there.
Keeping healthy, ready-to-heat lunches at work may boost your nutrient intake and reduce the amount of money you spend on takeout and lunch delivery.
These healthy frozen meal products are easy to keep and prepare at work.
9. Primal Kitchen frozen bowls and skillets
Primal Kitchen makes paleo-friendly products, including frozen bowls and skillets that make great options for lunch at work.
You can reheat the frozen bowls and skillets in the microwave or cook them on the stove.
The product line includes Chicken Pesto, Steak Fajitas, and Chicken Fried Riced Cauliflower. Keep in mind that some meals may not provide enough calories per serving for some men, especially if you have a physically demanding job.
Plus, some options are high in sodium, so be sure to read the nutrient label before purchasing. If possible, choose meals with less than 800 mg of sodium per serving.
You can buy Primal Kitchen meals online or in stores like Target and Whole Foods.
10. Tattooed Chef bowls
Tattooed Chef’s delicious, plant-based frozen meals make a smart lunch choice for men looking to increase their vegetable intake.
Its frozen bowls come with a variety of ingredients, including:
- Buddha Bowl: sweet potatoes, kale, and chili coated chickpeas over cauliflower rice
- Veggie Hemp Bowl: sweet potatoes, kale, chickpeas, and hemp seeds over cauliflower rice and red quinoa
Although these meals are a good source of important nutrients such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, they contain less than 350 calories, which likely won’t be enough for physically active men.
Nonetheless, you can pair them with snacks or other dishes to increase the calorie count. They’re also easy to prep, as you can simply microwave them.
11. The Good Kitchen frozen meals
The Good Kitchen is a meal delivery service that uses high quality, sustainably sourced ingredients to create nutritious gluten-free meals. You can purchase its frozen meals in packs of five from several retailers, including Amazon and Walmart.
Plus, its frozen meals are high in protein and fiber. Options include:
- Chimichurri Chicken
- Fennel Shrimp
- Beef Pot Roast with Sweet Potato Mash
- Pastured Bison Burger with Creamy Gypsy Cabbage and Sweet Potato Mash
Simply pop these frozen meals into the microwave and you’ll have a hot, nutritious lunch ready in a matter of minutes.
12. Daily Harvest
Daily Harvest offers multiple frozen meals and smoothies that you can mix and match to make a healthy lunch at work, especially if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Daily Harvest products can also help men eat more fruits and vegetables.
For example, you can combine one of its veggie-packed flatbreads with a fruit smoothie for a nutritionally complete meal that’s ready in less than 10 minutes. Daily Harvest offers snacks too.
The company’s newest product, Harvest Bakes, also makes a great choice for lunch at work. These bakes are high in fiber and protein and can be heated in a toaster oven or regular oven.
For men who have access to a kitchen at work, frozen meals make a smart lunch choice — especially when you have a limited lunch break.
Eating a filling and nutritious lunch is important for working men.
A balanced lunch not only helps you meet your daily nutrient needs but also can help you feel your best while working. The lunch ideas on this list are excellent choices to keep you full and energized.
Just one thing
Try this today: If you’re trying to eat healthier, you can start by changing just one meal per day rather than overhauling your entire diet. Consider starting with the meal you know needs the most work.
For example, if your go-to breakfast is a pastry and a sugary coffee from your local cafe, make a point to choose a higher protein breakfast that’s lower in sugar, whether you prepare it at home or buy it on the go.
Two good options are a veggie omelet with a side of fruit or peanut butter overnight oats with berries.
Once eating a healthier breakfast has become a habit, move on to lunch.