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27 Flavorful Cold Lunch Ideas For Work Or Back To School

Are you looking for some tasty cold lunch ideas? This compilation of recipes reveals 27 homemade lunches designed to be served cold (or immediately) and enjoyed at work or school. 

Preparing for hot lunches is sometimes annoying, especially when you have over-scheduled days and endless commitments. *sigh*

This is why people tend to go out for lunch, which I believe isn’t economical. So what should we do? 

Luckily—there are cold meals that you can rely on, and I’ve compiled them all in here—the majority won’t take you hours to prepare. 

From Mexican Lettuce Wraps to Chickpea Jar Salad bursting with Asian flavors, here are our epic list of cold lunch ideas that’ll please not only just you but your entire family, as well.

BLT lovers will love delectable #26!

Need more lunch ideas? Try our keto-inspired lunch recipes!

These lettuce wraps are fresh and take only about 15 minutes to put together; they’re one of those great cold food ideas to pack for work or school.

The Mexican-inspired dish packs with earthy spicy flavors and hearty fresh ingredients. Prefer it spicy? Sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes.

If you want something fast and fabulous, opt for this richer-tasting potato salad. The key is to ensure not to overcook the potatoes.

The main ingredients are Yukon Gold potatoes, onion, pickles, eggs, mustard, mayo, and celery, but feel free to be creative. 

This recipe is very different from the classic coleslaw with a homestyle mayonnaise dressing. 

It’s sweet, tangy, and has an extra flavor punch of celery seeds!

Cover this easy cold food idea with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to fully meld the flavor. 

Red potatoes unite with fresh herbs, mayonnaise, and Greek yogurt to make a creamy potato salad destined to impress. 

This good cold lunch is customizable; you can add eggs and crunchy bacon all you want! Or how about spicing things up with red chili flakes?

This pasta salad dish is one of the best cold lunch ideas for work since it’s light, creamy, yet easy to create. And come on—who doesn’t like bacon?

The kind of pasta that you use is completely up to you, but I recommend using shorter pasta as they’re easy to get on a fork.

Looking for cold lunches? If so, prepare your rotisserie chicken, spinach, and cream cheese to create this delicious tortilla wrap!

The cream cheese mixture, featuring sour cream, green onions, and bacon bits, is the highlight of this easy lunch idea.

The combination of black and fresh romaine lettuce in these scrumptious wraps is something you shouldn’t miss. 

To make it straightforward, it’s best to use canned black beans. Then consider adding some jalapenos to make them more of a filling meal. 

This Caesar salad requires no anchovies or raw eggs, yet it has the flavor punch from the classic recipe. 

The secret? The Worcestershire-based dressing. 

To fully enjoy its flavor, it’s advisable to refrigerate the salad before serving it. Make this in advance and leave it in the fridge for a day.

This Hawaiian macaroni salad is pure comfort food that calls for a few ingredients, making it budget-friendly and super simple to put together. 

Shake things up with variations—add pineapple chunks, green peas, or diced celery for additional texture.

This good cold lunch—classic gazpacho—is easy and full of traditional Spanish flavor. Plus, it’s refreshing, thanks to the cool puree of tomato and cucumber. 

To create, throw the ingredients in a blender, then blend until pureed. Chill for a few hours and let the flavors meld. Easy peasy!

This 8-ingredient chicken salad recipe comes together quickly, especially if you use leftover rotisserie chicken. 

It’s versatile (and tasty!); you can add or subtract ingredients to your liking. Pecans? Grapes? Sour cream? Toss them all!

When it comes to cold lunch ideas for work, turkey wraps are a no-brainer. They’re filling, versatile, and can be made in just 15 minutes!

This version includes turkey, bacon, cheddar, red onions, microgreens, lettuce, and cream cheese mixture.

Salad is one of our favorite easy lunches, and this salad recipe with Caprese is no exception. 

The balsamic reduction makes the salad so much better. 

It blends beautifully with the lovely and rich flavor of the tomatoes. Oh—and fresh basil adds a strong aroma, too!

This summer lunch has a beautiful combination of feta, watermelon, and arugula, and all tossed in a tangy salad dressing. 

If you aren’t a fan of feta cheese, you can substitute blue cheese or goat cheese instead. Before serving, garnish it with fresh cilantro.

These lentil wraps are vegan lovers’ dreams. They’re dairy-free yet incredibly wholesome and filling!

You need tortilla bread to make these delectable wraps, Then place salad, lentils, dressing, or sauce on the bread, and wrap—you’re done.

Now we’re talkin’! What I like about this salad is its simplicity. It only calls for seven basic ingredients to make.

To assemble the salad, cut the veggies and fresh herbs, mix them all in a large bowl, then chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

This recipe is an easy way to give your sandwich a hearty upgrade without adding fancy ingredients—all you need is this powerful combo: ham and cheese.

Add pickled relish to the mix for a hint of tangy sweetness and a nice crunch. Though it’s optional, you can add condensed milk for a quick boost of creaminess.

Perfect for lunch meal prep, this burrito bowl is packed with salsa, lettuce, salsa, black beans, tomatoes, and avocados!

But the true centerpiece of the dish is the thick, tangy, and smoky sauce consisting of sour cream, chipotle paste, garlic, and lime. 

Put these restaurant-style spring rolls inside your lunch box and watch your officemates’ jaws drop!

The refreshing and vibrant rolls aren’t complete without the peanut sauce, so ensure that you have the ingredients for the dressing on hand.

This classic Bombay vegetable sandwich is filled with flavors: sweet, briny, spicy, and savory—it’s worth trying!

Best paired with tomato ketchup or extra green chutney, feel free to put mozzarella, cheddar, or paneer to the sandwich.

This Asian noodle salad requires zero cooking, except for boiling the noodles. And the best part? It can be served cold!

It has creamy peanut butter, sweet honey, zingy ginger, and a kick of Sriracha, creating a burst of interesting flavor.

This salad is a great way to use up your excess cucumber. It’s refreshing and overloaded with sour cream, spices, and fresh herbs.

Note: The cucumbers need to be sliced extremely thin, so consider investing in a mandoline slicer or a cheese grater.

Cucumbers aren’t just for salads; they’re good in sandwiches, too!

As per our version, we combine basic ingredients (mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and pepper) to make the perfect spread and layer it with freshly sliced cucumbers for a refreshing bite.

Creating these chicken club roll-ups requires minimal effort, and you just need tortillas, chicken, ham, bacon, cheese, tomato, and avocado.

Full of savory and sweet flavor, these rolls are best served along with ranch dressing buffalo chicken sauce or Sriracha sauce.

You can’t go wrong with egg salad, and this version is delicious enough to knock your socks off. It’s tasty when spread on bread.

Play around with the recipe. Add diced pickles, relish, tomatoes, carrots for texture, or bacon for smokiness. Now I’m hungry!

In this dish, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and rotini pasta are tossed in a creamy dressing to make a flavor and texture combo bound to get you hooked!

This salad has endless possibilities. You can toss in a handful of croutons or sourdough in case you’re longing for the bread from your favorite BLT sandwich.

This salad features chickpeas, crunchy vegetables, cilantro, and salted peanuts and can be refrigerated for up to six days.

It’s laden with Asian flavors coming from creamy and spicy peanut butter dressing. And, of course—it’s a perfect meal prep lunch!

The bottom line

With sudden hectic days and the stress of balancing work, it’s no wonder that sometimes, meal planning may not be the top priority on your list. 

And I know—you don’t enjoy foods coming from the drive-thru window or any of those take-out meals. 

To solve your dilemma, try a few of these cold lunch ideas! Whether you’re looking for salads, wraps, sandwiches, or rolls, this list has got you covered.

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27 Cold Lunch Ideas

27 Cold Lunch Ideas

This list of 27 cold lunch recipes is designed to be served cold (or immediately) and destined to please you and your entire family.

Ingredients

  • Mexican Lettuce Wraps
  • Yukon Gold Potato Salad
  • No-Mayo Carolina Coleslaw
  • Creamy Red Potato Salad
  • Creamy Pasta Salad
  • Chicken, Spinach, And Cream Cheese Tortilla Wrap
  • Black Bean Lettuce Wraps
  • Caesar Salad
  • Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
  • Classic Gazpacho
  • Rotisserie Chicken Salad
  • Turkey Wraps
  • Caprese Salad
  • Watermelon Feta Salad
  • Lentil Vegan Wraps
  • Cucumber Tomato Salad
  • Ham and Cheese Sandwich
  • Burrito Bowl
  • Fresh Spring Rolls
  • Bombay Veg Sandwich
  • Asian Noodle Salad
  • German Cucumber Salad
  • Cucumber Sandwich
  • Chicken Club Roll-ups
  • Egg Salad
  • BLT Pasta Salad
  • Thai Chickpea Jar Salad

Instructions

  1. Choose one or more options from our list of cold lunch ideas here!
  2. Choose your favorite to recreate.
  3. Pat yourself on the back for making food at home for you to enjoy!
  4. Share and comment! Did you make any tweaks, so it’s all your own?

Did you make this recipe?

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