50 Cold Lunch Ideas

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Don’t let your lunch routine become a groundhog’s day of eating the same old boring things. We’ve rounded up 50 delicious, unique, and tasty cold lunch ideas

Chicken wrap, chicken salad, tortilla roll up, and stacked sandwich.


 

Cold lunches are ideal as they store and transport easily and are ready to eat straight from the fridge. They are also great for meal prepping, ensuring your lunch routine stays original and you always have something ready to enjoy.

We’ve included an eclectic array of 50 appetizing cold lunch ideas that are perfect for work or school, to have a quick grab-and-go lunch on the fly, or to whip up in no time before you leave the house. 

1. Chicken Salad

What I love the most about chicken salad is how versatile it is. From ingredients to different ways of eating it, it’s a mercurial cold lunch in my regular lunch rotation. There is a wonderful juxtaposition of textures with the cool, creamy dressing and crunch from the celery, pecans, and apple. Whether I’m making a chicken salad sandwich, a wrap, or putting it on a bed of lettuce, it’s always a favorite cold lunch.

2. Ham And Cheese Roll Ups

These tasty little roll-ups are a fun way to mix up your lunch routine. While also fabulous party appetizers, they are simple to make and have many variations. This recipe is ham and cheese rolled in a flour tortilla with cream cheese and ranch seasoning making these roll-ups a powerhouse of delicious flavor. 

3. Buffalo Chicken Wraps

The zing of buffalo sauce is an appetizing contrast to the cool lettuce, cheese, and ranch in these mouthwatering wraps. Great way to use leftover rotisserie chicken. A delectable, restaurant-worthy cold lunch idea. Making these wraps is a breeze and only takes 5 minutes to throw together.

4. Keto Snack Box

This keto lunch box is ideal for meal prepping and to have on hand for an easy grab-and-go lunch. Deli meat, hard-boiled eggs, and veggies all add to this low-carb, flavorful cold lunch with plenty of protein. When you want to go low-carb, are enjoying a Keto diet, or want to mix up your lunch routine, this lunch box is the simple, delicious answer. 

5. Copycat Starbucks Turkey Sandwich

This is a copycat recipe of the infamous Starbucks turkey protein box. It can be prepped ahead of time for another easy grab-and-go lunch. Turkey deli meat, the tangy cream cheese spread, and Swiss cheese make fun little sandwiches. Apples and carrots complete the lunch box and store until ready to devour. 

6. Italian Sub Pasta Salad

All of the traditional Italian sub toppings are included in this bright, tasteful pasta salad. Salami, provolone cheese, pepperoncini, red onion, tomatoes, and chopped green leaf lettuce combined together with pasta in a tangy vinaigrette dressing. Easy to transport and meal prep, this pasta salad makes a delicious cold lunch or dinner. 

7. Tuna Salad Meal Prep

When searching for cold lunch ideas for work, meal prepping, and low-carb meals, this tuna salad hits the mark. Similar to chicken salad, it has a creamy, mayonnaise dressing and crunchy bites of celery. Easy to prep ahead of time and have a delicious protein-packed dish at the ready. 

8. Greek Orzo Salad

This Greek orzo salad is a tasty salad with a flavor explosion in every bite. The herb dressing allows for a nice tang against the fresh veggies of cucumber, tomato, red onion, and chickpeas. The feta cheese balances the salad with its creamy chunks and mild flavor. Perfect for a hot summer day, it’s fresh, light, and full of flavor. 

9. Chicken Salad Grain Bowl

Grain bowls are a great idea for a filling and healthy lunch. This recipe takes it up a few notches and is a fun twist on a traditional chicken salad. It adds quinoa, carrot, raisins, and onion to the chicken, pecans, and apples.  It has a bright lemon garlic dressing that gives the salad a nice zing of flavor.

10. Seven Layer Mason Jar Salad

A wonderful cold lunch idea is to meal prep mason jar salads. Mason jars are convenient and easy way to transport salads. In this recipe, the creamy lemon Greek yogurt dressing is the star of the show. It’s a lighter version of the traditional mayonnaise dressing which complements the freshness of the salad and offsets the heavier elements of cheddar cheese and bacon.

11. Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto pasta is a classic Italian dish. The basil pesto is full of fresh, luscious flavor. This recipe takes that loveable dish and turns it into a wondrous cold salad. Cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini, and red onion add to the traditional pesto and pasta to make this a well-rounded and delicious salad, perfect for a cold lunch idea or summer potluck. 

12. Italian Wrap

Wraps are a fun alternative to sandwiches, especially when you want to cut out bread. This zesty Italian wrap is full of zing and bursting with flavor. Ham, pepperoni, salami, lettuce, cheese, and peppers are all mixed with a zesty Italian dressing and wrapped up in a flour tortilla. 

13. Chickpea Salad Sandwich Recipe

This wonderful chickpea salad is a vegan take on the traditional chicken salad. Chickpeas replace the chicken and blend favorably with fresh herbs, celery, and pickles. They are combined together with an inviting vegan mayonnaise dressing. Scoop the salad onto your favorite bread and enjoy a luscious vegan cold lunch. 

14. Classic Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg sandwiches are quintessential beloved sandwiches. Kid-approved and delicious, egg sandwiches are a comfort food loved by everyone. This simple recipe is a leveled-up version of the classic recipe and a great addition to your lunch routine.  

15. Tuna And Chickpea Pita Pockets

Pita pockets are such a fun alternative to sandwiches. This recipe is hearty, healthy, and flavorful. A mini tuna salad is tossed in a creamy lemon herb dressing creating a bright flavor. It gets stuffed into the pita pocket with spinach and tomatoes for superb texture and flavor. 

16. Cold Sesame Noodle Salad

This cold noodle sesame salad is a great cold lunch idea for work. It’s packed full of fresh vegetables and mixed with a jaw-dropping sublime sesame ginger dressing. The best part is that it’s ready to devour in 25 minutes.

17. Granola Apple Peanut Butter Wrap

Forget boring old peanut butter and jelly, there’s a new recipe in town. This leveled-up peanut butter wrap will be your new obsession. It’s crunchy, creamy, and chewy with a hint of sweetness. It’s fast, easy to make, and perfect for meal prepping. It’s loaded with protein and fruits giving you sustained energy to finish your day strong.

18. Lemon Chicken Rice Bowl

This chicken rice bowl is a bowl full of yummy goodness. Fresh, bright, and brimming with delicious flavors, it’s a marvelous cold lunch idea. Fresh Basil, lemon, diced chicken breast, veggies, and rice all blend in a glorious lemon dressing. Easy to throw together and makes for a great lunch or dinner. 

19. Quinoa Salad

This is a healthy, naturally fresh salad full of dazzling flavors. Quinoa, black beans, chickpeas, mango, avocado, onion, cilantro, and mint are combined with a tangy lime dressing. Bold flavors make this vegetarian salad a fantastic lunch or side dish. 

20. Broccoli Salad

This salad is an exceptional side dish; however, it also makes a delicious lunch. Fresh broccoli, savory bacon, cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and red onion are tossed in a creamy lemon dressing. It’s satisfying and filling. 

21. Dill Pickle Pinwheels

These little pinwheels are a pickle lover’s dream. Easy to meal prep and a great cold lunch idea for work, they are brimming with tasty flavors. The fresh dill and dill pickles give a nice crunch and complement the cool cream cheese and ranch for a perfect bite every time.

22. Tortellini Pasta Salad

This is an elevated pasta salad with cheese tortellini and homemade Italian dressing. It comes together quickly in 25 minutes. This salad is packed full of fresh ingredients and is delightful and delectable to eat. 

23. Ham Salad

Ham salad is perfect to make when you’ve got leftover ham. It makes a great lunch or snack and whips up in just 10 minutes. There’s a secret ingredient that makes this southern classic an amazingly appetizing salad.  

24. Hummus Avocado Sandwich

This vegan sandwich is a tasty treat. The thinly sliced bread is stacked with fresh veggies, hummus, and avocado. It’s fresh, fabulous, and all-around an exceptional sandwich. 

25. Chicken Cobb Salad Wraps

All of your favorite cobb salad flavors are wrapped up in a tortilla for a delicious cold lunch! Great for hot days or when you want a cool, crisp, and yummy lunch. This handheld version of the classic salad is a great way to enjoy lunch on the go. 

26. Roast Beef Tortilla Roll Ups

These roast beef roll-ups take all of the classic flavors of a roast sandwich and roll them into these bite-sized fun roll-ups. Deli roast beef, horseradish, cream cheese, sour cream, mustard, and Colby jack cheese are rolled in a flour tortilla and then sliced. Not a wrap, not a sandwich, they are fun-size and make a great meal. 

27. Tuna And White Bean Salad

This is a healthy and protein-packed inviting salad. The tuna and white beans are combined with red onion and tangy red wine vinaigrette. Light and satisfying, you can whip it up in a mere 15 minutes. 

28. Buffalo Chicken Meal Prep Bowl

You don’t have to sacrifice flavor for a healthy version of classic dishes. A healthier take on buffalo chicken, these meal prep bowls are packed full of luscious flavors, protein, fiber, and healthy fats. They are perfect for prepping on a Sunday and having on hand for lunches or dinners. 

29. Turkey Spinach Pinwheels

Cold lunch ideas for work can get repetitive and daunting. These turkey spinach pinwheels are a flavorful way to mix up your lunch routine. Easy to meal prep or throw together in the morning, they are nutritious, delicious, and filling. 

30. Thai Peanut Salad

This is an easy chopped salad to throw together and is full of appetizing and tasty flavors. A tangy peanut sauce dresses the salad that is filled with crunchy veggies and it’s topped with crunchy cashews. It’s a bright and luscious salad you’ll love to add to your lunch routine. 

31. Bell Pepper Sandwich

This bell pepper turkey sandwich is a fun and delicious way to skip the bread. Simply swap out the bread for a bell pepper and stuff with deli turkey, crispy bacon, avocado, cheese, mayo, and mustard. The bell pepper adds a nice crunch and flavor to this healthy and already appetizing sandwich. 

32. Southwest Chicken Wraps

A tantalizing and favorable wrap, this southwest chicken wrap is so good you’ll be making it at least once a week. It quickly comes together in 25 minutes and has a flavor punch of southwest goodness.

33. California Roll Wraps

This is a refreshing wrap that has a different spin on it. Crab, cucumber, mango, cilantro, and green leaf lettuce all get wrapped up in a tortilla covered with a yummy creamy garlic sauce.  Fresh, flavorful, and light all at once. 

34. Salmon Salad

Salmon salad is a great alternative to tuna salad, especially when you’re looking to change up your lunch routine. A palatable and inviting salad, it has fresh dill, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard adding freshness and bright tones to it. 

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/26036504079458159/

35. Waldorf Chicken Salad Lettuce Wrap

This Waldorf chicken salad is a tasty spin on the traditional recipe. The apples, grapes, and sunflower seeds are mixed together with chicken and mayonnaise for a creamy, crunchy consistency. Laid into crisp lettuce wraps, this recipe is fresh, light, and a perfect cold lunch during the warm summer months. 

36. Tomato Peach Gazpacho

This is a cool, refreshing, and light soup that will satisfy any palate on a hot day. You can top it with a variety of options like burrata or crab, or simply serve and enjoy it as is. 

37. Shrimp Salad Rolls

Move over lobster rolls, these shrimp salad rolls are next-level delicious. Similar to a tuna salad, the shrimp is mixed with celery, herbs, and a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing. The salad is a powerhouse of wonderful flavors and spread into buttery brioche buns. 

38. Salami Sandwich

This salami sandwich is a delightful alternative to other lunch meats. Cream cheese, fresh leaf lettuce, and garlic are included in this easy-to-make sandwich. Quick to make, easy to meal prep, and a great cold lunch idea to add to your lunch routine. 

39. Turkey Mozzarella Focaccia Sandwich

This isn’t your ordinary turkey sandwich, it’s a next-level turkey sandwich with delectable rosemary focaccia bread. The sun-dried tomato pesto, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and turkey are piled high between the bread slices. It’s fresh, tangy, and bursting with mouthwatering flavors. 

40. Crab Pasta Salad

Take your pasta salad game up a few notches with this bright, cool, and tasty salad. This pasta salad is a crab lover’s dream packed with fresh flavors and delicious crab. It’s a perfect cold lunch, potluck, or picnic salad. 

41. Asian Noodle Salad

Asian noodle salad is a refreshing, bright, and light salad. The lip-smacking peanut dressing brings all of the fresh ingredients together. Red cabbage is included adding a crunchy texture against the soft noodles. 

42. BLT Turkey Wrap

Not your average BLT, this wrap includes deli turkey, avocado, and ranch. A powerful and appetizing flavor combination all wrapped up in a tortilla. It’s a wonderful alternative to a regular BLT and a wonderfully easy lunchtime meal.  

43. Mediterranean Lunch Box

This Mediterranean lunch box is a great idea to add to your lunch routine. Easy to meal prep and perfect for on-the-go lunches, it’s full of bright and fresh veggies, luscious, creamy hummus, and protein-rich chickpeas. 

44. Meal Prep Greek Gyro Box

These are an easy, healthy lunch or dinner to meal prep and have on hand for your week. These bowls are full of the Greek flavors we know and love. The tzatziki dipping sauce, cucumber salad, and herb marinated chicken all go into these fresh and delightful bowls. 

45. Turkey Bagel Sandwich

It only takes 5 minutes to throw together this delectable bagel sandwich. It’s packed full of fresh veggies, delicious creamy hummus, and savory turkey. It’s completely customizable too so you can throw in whatever you have on hand and make it your own masterpiece sandwich. 

46. Chicken Bacon Avocado Salad

Chopped salads are great cold lunch ideas for work. Easy to meal prep and make ahead of time, they make taking lunch to work a breeze. This salad is no exception. It’s loaded with fresh veggies, herbs, avocado, and bacon. An irresistible lemon vinaigrette dresses the salad for a healthy, delicious salad.

47. Spinach Berry Salad

A quintessential summer salad, this spinach salad is berry good. Loaded with fresh berries, goat cheese, red onion, and pecans, it’s a summertime salad bursting with amazing flavors. The raspberry vinaigrette is a sweet and tangy dressing that compliments this fresh, bright, and luxurious salad. 

48. BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad

This BBQ chicken pasta salad is a flavor explosion in the best way. It’s brimming with an array of delicious ingredients including black beans, corn, bacon, and bell pepper. The salad is tossed in a creamy, tangy BBQ sauce dressing. This will become your new favorite summer salad. 

49. Zoodle Spaghetti Salad

This salad is a veggie lover’s dream. Loaded with fresh veggies and cheddar cheese, it’s a fresh, flavorful, and healthy salad. An upgraded Italian dressing coats the salad adding a tasty zing. 

50. Green Goddess Wrap

These cucumber wraps are so bright, fresh, and tantalizingly delicious that you’ll be going back for seconds and thirds. Great for parties, tasty cold lunches, or snacks, they are easy to whip up in only 20 minutes. The green goddess dressing is a showstopper and so good that you’ll want to make extra to keep on hand. 

If you need something for dinner, be sure to try these amazing 50 dinner ideas.

Did you try any of these cold lunch recipes? Let me know in the comments below.

Chicken wrap, chicken salad, tortilla roll up, and stacked sandwich.
5 from 3 votes

Cold Lunch Ideas

By Heather
50 delicious cold lunch recipe ideas including this easy copycat bistro box.
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 7 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 ounce Gouda cheese sliced
  • 1 ounce sharp cheddar cheese sliced
  • 1 ounce Brie
  • 6 crackers
  • 1/4 cup mixed almonds and cashews
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1 apple sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions 

  • Toss apple slices in lemon juice to help prevent browning.
  • Arrange ingredients in a meal prep container. Refrigerate before eating.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 190mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 177IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
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3 Comments

  1. These are some of the best and most realistically affordable recipes I have come across in a LONG time. Thank you so much for sharing this collection. I look forward to trying many of these out for the whole family and some for my picky teens school lunches this year!

  2. I’d like to see ideas for ways to use sardines without heating them in any way. Heating destroys the Omega-3 fatty acids, and I’m eating the icky little buggers in order to INCREASE my O3’s, not destroy them. I only just started eating them a week ago, and have no idea how to other than flaking them and hiding them in my homemade salad dressing, where they sort of melt in. They give my salads a huge protein boost, of course, and I don’t have to see them at all, but I’d like to get past that childish action. I’m 70, have been cooking and baking for 62 years, but it doesn’t automatically translate to knowing what to do in every food situation.

    1. 5 stars
      In reply to the sardine comment, I know it sounds a little strange, but try eating them (unheated) along with some baked potatoes. You can add a little olive oil or butter to the potatoes, and a bit of dill or whatever else you’d like.. and just have the sardines on the side. You can add a salad with some onions (onions go well with sardines). In a lot of regions, potatoes and fish are eaten together often, and I do find that they pair nicely. Also, you can get sardines in tomato sauce, and I feel like that’d be a nice change as well. You can also make sandwiches with them, along with onions on a crusty loaf and other toppings.