Food & Drink

22 Easy No-Heat Lunch Recipes You Can Turn to Every Day of the Week

written by LAUREN BLUE
no heat lunch recipes"
no heat lunch recipes
Source: Chungah Rhee
Source: Chungah Rhee

While you might have the ability to eat a hot lunch each day, sometimes it’s just not convenient to prepare something warm or find a way to heat up your packed lunch. Whether you work from home or in an office, knowing some no-heat lunch recipes can really come in handy. For times when you can’t access a microwave at work or simply don’t have the energy to use the one in your home (we’ve all had those days), having some no-heat lunch ideas in your back pocket that taste great cold or at room temperature is a must. Opting for the same old, super basic salad or sandwich can get boring quickly, however. What you need is a bit of inspiration.

Yes, of course, there are plenty of exciting salads and sandwiches you can make, but you have many more options than just that. There are plenty of meat, fish, and veggie dishes that work just as well cold as they do when newly out of the oven or off the stove. And those are absolutely the perfect thing for you to bring for lunch. Honestly, even if you do have access to a microwave or toaster oven, who wants to put in the effort to heat up lunch every day anyway?

These no-heat lunches will get you out of your lunchtime rut without sacrificing flavor or adding pre-lunch preparation. What’s not to like about that?

1. Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl

no-heat lunch ideas
Source: Eating Bird Food

Mediterranean bowls are one of my absolute favorite lunches, and this recipe is no exception. It’s filled with lots of nutritious vegetables, and the protein-packed hummus and chickpeas will keep you full throughout the day. The great thing about this recipe is you can swap some of the toppings to enjoy it multiple times a week without getting bored.

2. Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

no-heat lunch ideas
Source: Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

Chicken Caesar salads are delicious, and so is pasta. Combining the two into a pasta salad sounds like a match made in heaven. The Caesar dressing is dairy-free, and the whole dish can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta. A huge bonus: This recipe will last up to five days in the fridge stored in an airtight container.

3. Avocado Couscous Grapefruit Salad

no-heat lunch ideas
Source: by Erin Clarke of Well Plated

Grapefruit offers such a fresh, tart flavor, making this salad a fantastic lunch for warm-weather days. The tangy citrus is complimented with mint, cilantro, lime, and avocado, which means this recipe is bursting with flavor. It will also keep you full thanks to the filling white beans and couscous.

4. Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

Source: Budget Bytes

This light peanut salad is the perfect recipe for spring and summer. It’s so refreshing and has an amazing peanut lime dressing. Plus, it’s ready to be eaten right out of the fridge. To take this salad to the next level, add some tofu or grilled chicken.

5. Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

Source: Foodie Crush

Eating the rainbow is a great way to get in lots of nutrients, and this colorful salad definitely checks that box. With ingredients like mango, avocado, mint, and lime, it’s ideal for a warm-weather lunch. For maximum flavor, the recipe recommends letting the mango and avocado ripen for a few days before making the dish.

6. Caprese Chicken Salad Bowls

Source: Sweet Peas and Saffron

Whenever I eat Caprese salad, I’m immediately transported to Italy, where I’m dining al fresco by the beach with an ocean breeze blowing in my hair. If, like me, you have no European vacays on the horizon, this Caprese chicken salad can give you the Italian vibes you’re craving without the cost of a plane ticket.

7. Mexican Pinwheels

Source: A Couple Cooks

IMHO, tortilla roll-ups are the cooler older sister of the run-of-the-mill sandwich. These black bean tortilla rollups are a great example that’s both healthy and full of flavor. Dip them in salsa or guacamole for a yummy, Mexican-inspired lunch.

8. Healthy Pesto Chicken and Veggies

Source: Gimme Delicious

Sheet pan recipes are the ultimate time saver, and this one only takes 20 minutes to throw together. To make this recipe ASAP, you can use premade pesto, or with only an extra five minutes, you can whip up a homemade version. Either way, you’ll be left with a tasty lunch.

9. Avocado Tuna Salad

Source: Isabel Eats

Say what you want about canned tuna, but this avocado tuna salad is a far cry from your average tuna and crackers lunch. It’s so versatile and can be enjoyed on a sandwich, with tortilla chips, on a bed of fresh greens, or straight out of the bowl.

10. Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Source: Eating Bird Food

If you love potato salad but have grown tired of the classic version, this sweet potato twist is sure to impress. The recipe only uses eight ingredients and tastes just as good cold or at room temp as it does fresh out of the oven.

11. Mediterranean One Pot Pasta

Source: Midwest Foodie

There’s nothing worse than spending hours in the kitchen only to be met with a sink full of dishes to wash after you eat. This one-pot pasta comes together quickly and makes clean-up super simple. It is also vegetarian and can be easily made vegan by leaving out the feta cheese or replacing it with a vegan substitute.

12. Chicken Bacon Pressed Picnic Sandwiches with Raspberry Honey Mustard

Source: Host The Toast

These aren’t your average ham and cheese sandwiches. The raspberry honey mustard spread will have you throwing out your basic yellow mustard, and the combination of chicken and bacon provides tons of protein to keep you full. Whether you’re enjoying these at a picnic or in the office, they will become a new favorite.

13. Greek Salmon Salad Bowls

Source: Gimme Some Oven

I absolutely love salmon, and I’m always looking for recipes to incorporate it in new ways. This Greek salmon salad bowl is my new go-to recipe for when I’m craving a fresh, healthy lunch.

14. Korean Beef Power Bowls

Source: Chungah Rhee | Damn Delicious

If a recipe includes a homemade sriracha mayo, it’s pretty much a guaranteed yes for me, and this recipe proves that theory right. It’s easy to make and can be meal-prepped ahead of time and enjoyed later in the week.

15. Mexican Turkey and Bean Quinoa Bowl

Source: I Will Not Eat Oysters

If you’re addicted to Chipotle bowls, this recipe is a must-try. It’s so fresh, and the pickled onions and corn in this recipe are the absolute best toppings.

16. Greek Lemon Chicken Bowls

Source: Half Baked Harvest

These Greek chicken bowls are served with a side of something called “sizzled mint goddess sauce,” which sounds so mouthwatering I’m tempted to make it as a dip for any and every dish. This recipe is not difficult to make and offers a healthy lunch option that doesn’t compromise on flavor.

17. Sesame Soba Noodles

Source: Love & Lemons

If you’ve never made soba noodles, don’t worry. This recipe makes it super simple and equally as tasty. The light noodles combined with fresh green veggies make a lunch so good, your co-workers are bound to be jealous when you whip it out at the office.

18. Curried Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups

Source: The Toasted Pine Nut

Chicken salad is a lunch staple, especially in the warmer months, and the bold curry flavor in this recipe will dethrone your current basic recipe. Made with coconut cream and lots of spices, it has a fantastic creamy texture and is packed with flavor. It is also a healthy lunch option when paired with lettuce cups.

19. Roasted Butternut Squash Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Couscous

Source: Ambitious Kitchen

Butternut squash may shine in the fall, but this recipe will have you craving it year-round. This recipe is cozy and comforting, perfect for when you’re craving a hearty lunch to get you through the workday.

20. Lentil Greek Salad with Dill Sauce

Source: Pinch of Yum

Lentils are ideal for meal prepping because they last well in the fridge, so if you want to make your lunch ahead of time, this is the recipe to try. If you want to add protein, tuna pairs so well with this salad that it might convince even the strongest canned tuna skeptics to give it a whirl.

21. Grilled Shrimp Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Source: Foodie Crush

These spring rolls may take a little more time to assemble perfectly, but they are so good, it’s worth a few extra minutes. They pair grilled shrimp with fresh herbs and vegetables to create an amazing cold lunch option. If you aren’t a huge shrimp fan, the recipe also works well with chicken instead.

22. Antipasti Burrata Panzanella

Source: What’s Gaby Cooking

If it were up to me, I would officially declare Burrata the eighth wonder of the world. It is a superior cheese, and it makes any dish ten times better. Combined with homemade croutons and grilled vegetables? I’m officially obsessed.