5 High-Protein Lunch Ideas for Work

| WRITTEN BY: Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN
high-protein lunch ideas for work

Elevate your midday meal with these 5 high-protein lunch ideas for work, each packing at least 20 grams of protein per serving.

Are you tired of the same old lunch routine at work? After sleep, work and eating are the two most time-consuming aspects of daily life. Balancing both can be overwhelming, especially during peak seasons of work, family demands, and deadlines.

In these moments, skipping meals, resorting to overpriced salads or sandwiches, or settling for a meal that leaves you feeling less than your best, becomes all too common. Fortunately, there are numerous easy, adult lunch box ideas that will keep you satisfied and performing your best.

Why is Protein Important in Meals?

Protein is crucial for building and repairing tissues, maintaining muscle mass, and providing sustained energy throughout the day. It also helps keep you full between meals.

From salads to wraps, these options will keep you fueled and focused from morning meetings to afternoon deadlines.

Strategies to Plan Packable Lunches for Work

Everyone has their own approach—some prefer day-to-day planning, while others thrive on weekly meal prep. It’s all about finding what suits you best. If you enjoy sitting down to map out your monthly lunches, go for it! For insights on monthly meal planning, take a look at my blog featuring five strategies to simplify your life.

If your mornings feel too hectic to plan lunch while preparing breakfast, explore my collection of healthy no-cook breakfast ideas to help save time.

Adult Lunch Box Ideas

A top tip is to mix and match—lunches don’t have to be perfectly composed! Some days, you may not even have time to make one of the recipes below. So on those days, utilizing a bento box can streamline the process significantly.

One section might contain carrots and hummus, another turkey and cheese roll-ups, and a third a handful of almonds. Embrace what you have—and if your lunch looks a little eclectic at times, that’s perfectly fine!

For more inspiration, continue reading for 5 high-protein lunch ideas for work.

1. Three Bean Salad with Canned Beans

three bean salad high protein lunch ideaKickstart your afternoon with a hearty three-bean salad from canned beans. It provides a diverse array of nutrients, including plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins (such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K), minerals (such as iron, magnesium, and potassium), antioxidants, and healthy fats from olive oil.


  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup diced red onions
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley, to taste
  • Olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice for dressing


  1. Combine the beans and vegetables in a bowl.
  2. Add chopped cilantro or parsley.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix well.

Estimated Protein: Approximately 22 grams per serving.

2. Chicken and Quinoa Salad

chicken and quinoa salad high protein lunch ideaTreat yourself to a protein-packed chicken quinoa salad. This hearty salad is loaded with animal and plant proteins to keep you satisfied until dinner. Fun fact – did you know that quinoa is not technically a grain but rather a seed? This ancient pseudo-cereal contains all of the essential amino acids, and makes a nutrient-rich addition to any meal.


  • 4 ounces cooked chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup diced cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced red onions
  • Fresh herbs (such as parsley or cilantro), to taste
  • Olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper for dressing


  1. Combine the cooked chicken breast, quinoa, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and herbs in a bowl.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss until well combined.

Estimated Protein: Approximately 25 grams per serving.

3. Greek Yogurt Parfait

greek yogurt parfait high protein lunchIndulge in a creamy Greek yogurt parfait layered with fresh berries, granola, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Greek yogurt is rich in protein and probiotics, making it an excellent choice for a midday boost.

Opt for plain varieties to limit the added sugar. Then customize your parfait with your favorite fruit and nut toppings for a delicious and nutritious lunch option.


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • 1/4 cup mixed nuts and seeds (such as almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds)
  • 1/2 cup fresh berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries)
  • Honey or maple syrup for sweetness (optional)
  • Dash of cinnamon (optional)


  1. Layer the Greek yogurt, granola, nuts, seeds, and berries in a serving glass or jar.
  2. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup if desired.

Estimated Protein: Approximately 25 grams per serving.

4. Edamame Salad Wrap

edamame salad wrap with veggies for high protein lunchEase your lunchtime worries with a delightful edamame salad wrap. It’s a convenient and protein-packed option that brings together the vibrant crunch of edamame beans with a medley of crisp vegetables.

Plus, did you know that a randomized controlled trial showed that consumption of 50 mg of isoflavones daily, the amount provided by 1 cup of edamame, significantly reduced wrinkle depth in U.S. postmenopausal women? Yes please!


  • 1/2 cup cooked edamame
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup mixed greens
  • 1 whole-grain or spinach wrap
  • Tahini or your preferred dressing for flavor


  1. Combine the cooked edamame, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, diced bell peppers, and mixed greens in a bowl.
  2. Drizzle with tahini or your preferred dressing.
  3. Toss until well combined, then place the mixture onto a whole-grain wrap. Roll up tightly and slice in half if desired.

Estimated Protein: Approximately 22 grams per serving.

5. Plant-Based Burger

plant-based burger with veggies and whole grain bunIndulge in a delicious plant-based burger to increase your total plant-protein intake for the day. Whether homemade or store-bought from brands such as Beyond Meat, these burgers offer a hefty dose of protein without the meat. Serve it on a whole-grain bun with your favorite toppings for a satisfying lunch option.


  • 1 plant-based burger patty (such as Beyond Meat)
  • 1 whole-grain bun
  • Toppings of choice (lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.)
  • Spreads of choice (mashed avocado, greek yogurt spread, olive oil mayonnaise, mustard, etc.)


  1. Cook the plant-based burger patty according to package instructions or prepare it homemade.
  2. Place the cooked patty on a whole-grain bun and add your favorite toppings and spreads.

Estimated Protein: Approximately 20-25 grams per serving.

Getting Started with These High-Protein Lunch Ideas

With these high-protein lunch ideas, you can effortlessly stay satisfied and energized throughout the demanding workday. Embrace a diverse range of flavors and ingredients to ensure your meals are both enjoyable and nourishing, empowering you to tackle your tasks with vitality and focus.

For a helpful list of healthy and delicious snacks to pair with these lunches throughout the day, check out my book From Burnout to Balance.


  1. Carbone JW, Pasiakos SM. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1136. Published 2019 May 22. doi:10.3390/nu11051136
  2. Pathan S, Siddiqui RA. Nutritional Composition and Bioactive Components in Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) Greens: A Review. Nutrients. 2022;14(3):558. Published 2022 Jan 27. doi:10.3390/nu14030558
  3. Rizzo J, Min M, Adnan S, Afzal N, Maloh J, Chambers CJ, Fam V, Sivamani RK. Soy Protein Containing Isoflavones Improves Facial Signs of Photoaging and Skin Hydration in Postmenopausal Women: Results of a Prospective Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2023; 15(19):4113. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15194113
  4. Mark Messina, Alison M. Duncan, Andrea J. Glenn, Francois Mariotti,
    Perspective: Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Can Help Facilitate and Maintain a Lower Animal to Plant Protein Intake Ratio, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 14, Issue 3, 2023, Pages 392-405, ISSN 2161-8313, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.advnut.2023.03.003.

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