90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (2024)

August 2, 2023 — last updated March 14, 2024 by Kalyn Denny57 comments »

Here are 90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas for taking to work or to eat for lunch at home when you don’t want hot food! And most of these healthy no heat lunch ideas are low-carb and gluten-free.

PIN the 90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas to find them later!

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (7)

When I used to teach elementary school and also worked on this blog, I was grateful for leftovers to take to school and warm up for lunch. But without a place to heat food at the workplace, healthy lunches are more challenging.

Years ago I had a request on the Kalyn’s Kitchen Facebook page to share ideas for healthy brown bag lunches that don’t need to be heated, and I worked hard on this collection of 90 No-Heat Lunch Ideas and itended up being a big hit on the blog.

Now fast forward quite a few years and I’m more focused on low-carb eating, and my blog has also changed quite a bit since this was first posted. So I’m updating this collection of healthy lunches with more low-carb options, although there are still plenty of ideas for readers who follow other diets as well.

And truthfully, there are now more than 90 ideas here for a lunch that doesn’t need to be heated! I hope you’ll find a couple of things that will end up being a repeater lunch for you!

How can you tell if the no-heat lunch ideas fit your way of eating?

I am tagging this post with low-carb, Keto, gluten-free, dairy-free, South Beach Diet, and vegetarian because there are ideas here that fit all those diets! My site has diet-type tags above the recipe title on every post, so if a recipe in this round-up sounds good to you but you’re not sure it will fit your diet, just click the link to go to that post and you can see what diets I feel it’s suitable for!

What kinds of no-heat lunches will you find here:

I focused on no-heat lunches I think will keep in the fridge for at least a day or two, but check individual recipes for more information. Some dishes contain ingredients like fresh tomatoes or avocados that I’d cut up in the morning and add when I eat the lunch. And some salads might be best if you refrigerate the dressing and salad separately and combine at lunchtime.

There are a few dishes (like the tostadas) would definitely need to be packed separately and then assembled when you eat them. But all these are tasty ideas that I hope can make your brown-bag lunches a lot more interesting!

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (8)

Salads with Tomatoes for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Low-Carb Italian Pasta Salad (shown above)
  • Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Peperoncini
  • Tomatoes Cucumber Avocado Salad
  • Heart of Palm Salad with Tomato, and Avocado
  • Effie’s Cottage Cheese Salad with Za’atar
  • Tomato, Cucumber, and Radish Salad
  • Tuna Tomato Salad
  • Chopped Greek Salad with Peppers
  • Tomato Salad with Hearts of Palm, Olives, and Feta
  • Cucumber, Tomato, and Garbanzo Salad with Feta
  • Chickpea Tomato Salad
  • Tuna Avocado Tomato Salad
  • Tomato, Olive, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (9)

Pitas, Tostadas, and Wraps for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Seven Layer Dip Tostadas (shown above, a little more complicated to pack, but delicious)
  • Easy Guacamole Tostadas
  • Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps
  • Spicy Shredded Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos (the spicy chicken is good hot or cold)
  • Egg Salad in Pita with Green Olives
  • Turkey Pita Sandwiches with Cranberry Salsa
  • Deviled Ham Spread (in pita)
  • Middle Eastern Tostadas with Hummus and Feta

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (10)

Salads with Eggs and Cheese for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Loaded Cauliflower Mock Potato Salad (shown above)
  • Avocado Egg Salad
  • Marinated Cauliflower Antipasto Salad
  • Lettuce-Free Keto Cobb Salad
  • Antipasto Chopped Salad

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (11)

Snack Foods and Appetizers, for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Tuna-Stuffed Avocado (shown above)
  • Shrimp with Low Sugar co*cktail Sauce
  • Sriracha Deviled Eggs
  • Asparagus Wrapped in Ham
  • Air Fryer Shrimp (this is delicious cold)
  • Cucumber Hummus Bites
  • Ham and Pickle Roll Ups

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (12)

Salads with Chicken or Fish for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Chicken Pesto Salad (shown above)
  • Chicken and Avocado Salad with Lime and Cilantro
  • Curried Chicken Salad
  • Greek Peperoncini Chicken Salad
  • Chicken and Black Bean Salad
  • Chicken Salad with Basil
  • Chicken Salad with Green Olives
  • Chopped Salad with Chicken, Peppers, Olives, and Feta
  • Tarragon Chicken Salad
  • Chicken and Hearts of Palm Salad

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (13)

Salads with Fish or Seafood for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Family Favorite Shrimp and Macaroni Salad (shown above)
  • Salmon Salad with Dill
  • Shrimp and Black Bean Salad
  • Shrimp Cucumber Salad
  • Spicy Tuna Salad

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (14)

Salads with Beans or Lentils for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Balela Middle Eastern Bean Salad (shown above)
  • Black-Eyed Pea Salad
  • Pinto Bean Salad with Tuna, Tomatoes, and Peperoncini
  • Tuna and White Bean Salad
  • Cannellini Bean and Tuna Salad with Peperoncini
  • Butter Bean Salad
  • Marinated Bell Pepper Salad
  • Curried Chickpea Salad
  • Black Bean Salad with Black-Eyed Peas
  • Chickpea Tomato Salad
  • Lebanese Lentil Salad

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (15)

Salads with Greens for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Kale Apple Salad (shown above)
  • Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad
  • Baby Arugula Salad with Chicken, Mozzarella, and Tomatoes
  • Caesar Salad with Kale, Romaine, and Shaved Parmesan
  • Spinach Salad with Chicken
  • Mediterranean Spinach Salad

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (16)

Salads with Lettuce or Cabbage for a No-Heat Lunch

  • Perfect Low-Carb Taco Salad (shown above)
  • Peperoncini Chopped Salad with Romaine, Peppers, and Feta
  • Fattoush Lebanese Salad
  • Southwest Chicken Salad
  • Thai Cabbage Salad
  • Napa Cabbage Asian Slaw
  • Red Cabbage and Chicken Asian Salad
  • Chicken Cabbage Salad with Mustard

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (17)

Salads with Grain or Quinoa for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Southwestern Quinoa Salad (shown above)
  • Lentil and Barley Greek-Style Salad
  • Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
  • Tabbouleh Salad with Almonds

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (18)

Salads with Vegetables or Fruit for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Laurel’s Jicama Salad (shown above)
  • Marinated Zucchini Salad
  • Jicama Slaw
  • Green Bean Tomato Feta Salad
  • Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad
  • Cucumber Avocado Salad
  • Broccoli Salad with Feta and Almonds
  • Spicy Carrot Salad
  • Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
  • Sweet and Sour Broccoli Salad
  • Artichoke Antipasto Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
  • Marinated Cauliflower Antipasto Salad

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (19)

Dips for a No-Heat Lunch:

  • Sheila’s Low-Carb Shrimp Dip (shown above)
  • Grandma Denny’s Homemade Ranch Dip
  • Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
  • Roasted Tomato Hummus
  • Parsley Hummus

Historical Information for this post:

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas was first posted in 2012. The post was updated in 2020 with new photos and lots more low-carb lunch ideas, and it was updated again with more information in 2023.

90 Healthy No-Heat Lunch Ideas (20)

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Categories: Lunches, Recipes, Can be Keto, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, South Beach Diet, Vegetarian

originally published on Aug 2, 2023 (last updated Mar 14, 2024) by Kalyn Denny

57 commentsLeave a comment »

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Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe!

  1. ginnyReply

    The vegetarian taco salad with lentils is one of my favorites. Our church does a big salad luncheon every May. This salad is a must on the list. Thank you for the well organized recipes..

    • Kalyn DennyReply

      So glad to hear you have enjoyed it Ginny, thanks for taking time to tell me!

  2. GinaReply

    The only problem with your site is, it addicting I stay way to long. THANK YOU for all the deliciuos recipes.

    • Kalyn DennyReply

      Can we agree that’s what my mom used to call “a good problem to have”? Thanks Gina!

  3. AnonymousReply

    How do you do the no heat chicken avocado lime and cilantro salad

    • Kalyn DennyReply

      The point of this post is that you don't have to heat these lunches up at work, not that there are no cooked foods included in the recipes.

  4. AnonymousReply

    I am so impressed with this collection. I was hunting for ideas for a cold lunch to take on a camping trip. These will also help when my picky little one who loves fruit & veggies (but won't always eat carbs or meat) goes out to school. Thank you!

    • Kalyn DennyReply

      So glad it is useful for you!

  5. AnonymousReply

    These are awesome. Great variations. Sometimes it's hard to eat healthy because lack of ideas and ordering unhealthy food just seems easier.

    • Kalyn DennyReply

      Thanks, glad it is useful for you!

  6. Kalyn DennyReply

    Ellen, there are a few things here that would work; look through them and find things that don't have ingredients that need to be refrigerated.

  7. Ellen HarrisonReply

    I am trying to find some bag lunches for my husband to take to work. He is a truck driver so it has to be something that does not have to be heated up or kept cold. I know that is a lot to ask but he also has to be able to eat it on the go. He is a truck driver and can not stop to heat any thing and does not have a cooler or microwave to use either. So brown bagging it is all we can do..

  8. Kalyn DennyReply

    That's a new idea for me, but it sounds delish!

  9. SixMonthsofKetchupSoupReply

    Great ideas, thanks! I am new to the idea of grain salads but I'll try them 🙂 I recently tried a steel cut oats waldorf salad that was amazing, I love to take a pint jar of it (with extra extra chopped apple) for my lunch.

  10. NessaReply

    Thanks for all the wonderful ideas for healthy lunches! So glad it's not a turkey sandwich!!

  11. Anonymous222Reply

    Baby spinach, sliced strawberries, almonds or sunflower seeds, feta cheese, and dressing (or just balsamic vinegar if you're really cutting calories). Substitute dried cranberries if you don't have fresh strawberries.

  12. Kalyn DennyReply

    Anita, I'm sure that many of the recipes that use peanut butter could be made with sunbutter if that works for you. That's the only sub that I can think of that doesn't have nuts.

  13. Anita NavarraReply

    Hello Kalyn – thanks so much for sharing your wonderful recipes. Some of your recipes feature peanuts, almonds, or peanut butter. Sometimes they are in a sauce. Any ideas for substitutes in these recipes? One of my family members has a peanut and nut allergy.

  14. Laura PanduruReply

    Thanks a lot for this post! It's so helpful!

  15. UnknownReply

    If you have a Trader Joe's, I combine one package their steamed and vacuum sealed lentils + one container of the yogurt onion and chive dip. Throw it in a pita with some mixed greens or spinach and you've got one flavorful no-heat lunch!

  16. Kalyn DennyReply

    Hi Cher,

    I think what you're describing sounds like Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps with Capers and Tomatoes.

    Let me know if that's not the one.

  17. CherReply

    Great website, Kalyn!!! I stumbled upon your website through Pinterest where I saw a picture of a salad from your 90 Healthy No-Heat Lunches. However,I can't find it. I wanted to see if this is a chicken or tuna salad with tomatoes on a leaf of Romaine. It reminded me of P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps. It's interesting that there are so many combinations of salads. Thank you

  18. UnknownReply

    What I need are ideas for lunches I can eat in the car. My job involves lots of travel and I hate to take the time to sit down to eat. If I eat and drive, I can get home quicker. It's way too easy to eat drive-thru food!

  19. Kalyn DennyReply

    Lana, so glad it's helpful for you!

  20. Lana in MIReply

    Thank you so much! I am part of a weight loss surgery group and we are always looking for easy and healthy things to fix! This is a GREAT inspiration for all of us! Thanks so much! I have shared this with our site.
    Lana in MI

  21. firstcherriesReply

    These are great ideas! Thanks for sharing. I just really dislike microwaves so I love the help. One of my favorites is a Garbanzo bean and red pepper salad (on my blog). I make a big batch on Sundays and take it a few times. So easy!

  22. afracookingReply

    Fabulous inspiration – thank you!

  23. प्रतिष्ठा शर्माReply

    Yes you did miss my favorite.. IRS moong bean sprout or lentil sprout. I normally do my sprouts at home. But you can buy them at grossry stores too.

  24. Kalyn DennyReply

    Christie, so glad it is giving you some good ideas. That does sound like a challenge!

  25. Christie CReply

    Thank you for this, I ask am over the road truck driver. Eating is very hard to figure out. I think I Can try a few of these each time right after I do my shopping. Very little cigarette lighter fridge. Ugh. Thank you though iam excited to try.

  26. Kalyn DennyReply

    Courtney, glad it was helpful!

  27. Courtney JacksonReply

    Thanks Kalyn. Just went off meat for a while. Found great new recipes!

  28. Kalyn DennyReply

    Thanks Sally, and so glad it was useful for you! (I know what you mean about getting behind on the feed reader too!)

  29. bewitchingkitchen.comReply

    Kalyn, I am SOOOO glad I saw this. My life is beyond chaotic at the moment, and I've been missing a lot of posts around the blogosphere, without a chance to even read my feeds.

    Anywway, this is a masterpiece of a post, and it will come in very very handy for me!

    thank you – I am going to have a post coming up soon on a simple salad, and will include a link to your article because it's a must read!

  30. Kalyn DennyReply

    Linda, I will have to start thinking about that; good idea!

  31. Linda FarmerReply

    Thanks, Kalyn! This is great – I find that as a work-at-home person, it's hard to even stop for lunch never mind figure out what to eat. Now that cooler weather is coming, a roundup of nice warm lunches would also be helpful, if I might be so bold to request it. I find salads hard to face when it's cold outside.
    Thanks again!

  32. Kalyn DennyReply

    Thanks Donna, so glad!

    Kelly I bet you don't miss those days!

  33. kellypeaReply

    Well this list sure beats the frozen green beans I'd take to work and pop in the microwave. So many great ideas here!

  34. DonnaReply

    You have just inspired me to take my lunch! Healthier – more frugal – and yummier!

  35. Kalyn DennyReply

    Thanks CJ! We were writing comments at the same time I guess.

  36. Kalyn DennyReply

    Thanks Jeanette! It was fun finding some old favorites I had kind of forgotten about!

    Noritae, I do hear from a lot of people who have used my recipes to follow The South Beach Diet. If you're really serious about losing weight, here's a post on Getting Started on the South Beach Diet. I always recommend you start by reading the book!

  37. CJReply

    Kalyn, Outstanding! I already know how delectable your recipes are. To have a list of no-heat lunches all in one place is a fantastic, easy to use resource for work and travel. You are the best. This page is getting an extra "favorite" as a go-to for healthy lunch options.
    Thank you again!

  38. noritaeReply

    Hi Kalyn,
    I have been looking at your website and it looks so delicious. I am wondering if I can lose weight with your receipes. I will try because I am at a dangerous weight at this time and I need to learn how to cook more healthy not only for myself but my family as well. thanks again

  39. JeanetteReply

    Wow Kalyn! I could just print all these out and try each one – thanks for putting so much time into pulling these recipes together. They would be perfect for our church luncheons too!

  40. Kalyn DennyReply

    Alicia, so glad it's useful. Good luck on phase one. I return to it quite often myself!

  41. Alicia DavinReply

    This is so prefectly timed, Kalyn. I am hopping back on phase one this week and I heading to the store tomorrow. This reminds me of some favorites and helps me write my shopping list!

  42. Kalyn DennyReply

    Gwen, so glad it's helpful for you, and thanks for the pin!

  43. GwenReply

    These are great ideas and so many to choose from! I'm going to Pin this and make my way through them all. No more hospital cafeteria food for me! JOY!

  44. Kalyn DennyReply

    She's Cookin', so glad to hear there are ideas here that will work for you guys. And always appreciate the pin!

    Thanks Lydia! It was kind of fun looking through past recipes to find some of my old favorites.

  45. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)Reply

    What a fantastic collection of no-heat lunch recipes! Even though I work at home, I'm going to treat myself to some of these dishes for lunch.

  46. She's Cookin'Reply

    Great post to get out of the lunch rut! My husband is on a strict sodium restriction and many of these will work for him. Pinned to my Special Diets board to share with others 🙂

  47. Kalyn DennyReply

    Thanks Carrian, and thanks for the pin too!

  48. Carrian CheneyReply

    Such a great post Kalyn. I made sure to pin it because heaven knows I can't keep track of where I found great ideas.

  49. Kalyn DennyReply

    Kare, glad you like it. And I get it totally; I think I ate healthier lunches when I had to pack a lunch for work. Now it's far too easy to grab something when I'm out.

  50. KareReply

    What a great list of recipes! I'm not working right now (staying at home with my little one) but we are always on the go, and I've gone through the Starbucks drive thru for lunch more times than I can count. It was actually easier when I worked in an office because I had access to a microwave, but I don't right now, and I really needed no-cook ideas for when my babe and I are on the move!

  51. Kalyn DennyReply

    Savvy WorkingGal, great idea. Really all you need are ten good lunch ideas to alternate and you're set. Glad this was helpful.

  52. Savvy WorkingGalReply

    One of my goals is to come up with a list of ten recipes for healthy lunches. I have to stop eating those frozen meals. I'm sure I will find a few here. Thanks for sharing.

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