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10 easy-to-make healthy cold lunch recipes

Looking for healthy cold lunch recipes? As a healthcare professional, you know better than anyone else the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. But because of lack of time or inspiration, you often make the same recipes over and over again. Eventually, monotony sets in.

In order to help you diversify your meals and regain pleasure in eating even when you don’t have enough time, we met with Marie-Ève Forget, a nutritionist. She accompanies any person wishing to take a step to develop better eating habits adapted to their needs.

She will share with you her favourite recipes of varied, quick and balanced cold meals, perfect for your lunches or your children’s. You will never run out of ideas again. But first, a little instruction…

What is a balanced lunch?

According to Marie-Ève Forget, following Canada’s Food Guide is a very good basis for finding inspiration for lunches.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when making lunch:

– Half of the plate should be vegetables (raw vegetables, salad or sandwich toppings): this brings color, texture and an abundance of vitamins and minerals;

– A quarter of your lunch should be protein foods: they support you for a long time between meals;

– The last quarter of grain products, whole grains and starchy foods: they give you energy while filling you up.

Marie-Ève Forget‘s trick to healthy and varied lunches is planning. Whether it’s for cold or hot meals, she recommends to: 

– Fill your pantry and freezer with a variety of protein foods (edamame, chicken strips, tortillas or whole wheat pita in the freezer; canned fish and legumes in the pantry);

– Prepare vegetables ahead of time, for example on weekends, to better add them to lunches;

– Develop the reflex to double protein servings at dinner to have some in lunches.

Here are Marie-Ève’s favourite cold meal recipes. All that’s left to do is add vegetables that you’ve prepared on the weekend. You’ll see that eating well at lunchtime isn’t so complicated.

If possible, prepare lunches in the evening. It will be one less thing to do in the morning, which will help you start your day well and therefore, better balance work and family.


 Cold lunch recipes suggested by Marie-Ève Forget, nutritionist

1. Full wheat Tortilla tacos

Who says you absolutely need shells to make tacos? Whole-wheat tortillas can be used instead. For a cold meal ready in less than 10 minutes, simply garnish with steak or chicken strips, cheese, salsa, avocado and lettuce.

Marie-Ève Forget‘s little tip: use leftover meat from the day before.

If you cooked spaghetti for dinner, you can make this recipe into burritos with leftover ground meat and chili. For a vegetarian version, use canned black beans.


2. Whole Wheat Pita Sandwich

Pita bread is not only eaten dipped in hummus! It is also delicious as a sandwich. Whether you love fish or chicken, there’s a recipe for you. Just garnish it with your choice of meat, salad, tzatziki sauce and cucumber.

Tip: To prevent the garnish from ending up on the floor when you eat, wrap the pita bread in aluminum foil to make it easier to eat.

For more variety, also try the falafel pita with chicken shish taouk or, for a vegetarian version, the chickpea pita “taouk”.


3. Spring rolls

Who doesn’t like spring rolls? Perfect for a light and tasty lunch. All you need are rice papers, brown vermicelli or rice cooked the day before, fish/chicken or shrimp and thinly sliced vegetables. They can be eaten with soy sauce or a plain yogurt sauce.


4. Legume salad

Ideal for a small break from animal protein or if you are a vegetarian, this salad is very easy to prepare. Greek or Moroccan style, it can be made in several variations, each as delicious as the next.


5. Homemade Cup-a-soup

Even if it’s not quite a cold meal, you won’t need a microwave oven to prepare it. In a Mason jar, put vegetables cut into small pieces, cooked protein (shrimp, meat, chicken, legumes), rice noodles and seasonings of your choice. At lunch time, just add a cup of hot water from the coffee maker, wait 3 to 5 minutes and your cup-a-soup is ready!

You can vary this recipe by changing the vegetables or protein. 

 homemade cup-a-soup

6. White Bean Tabbouleh

Whole wheat couscous, canned white beans, feta cheese, vegetables and you’ve got a healthy cold meal.


7. “Copper branch” bowl or “poké bowl” lunch

There is nothing better than a meal bowl to let your imagination run wild. It is a combination of a grain (quinoa for example), a protein (meat, fish, legumes, etc.) and vegetables. Results: a tasty and colorful lunch. As you can see, the combinations are endless.


8. Omelettes-muffins

Toddlers love omelet muffins! Plus, it’s a very simple recipe: eggs, cheese, vegetables and you’re done. You can vary the filling from one recipe to another to create different flavours.

Maie-Ève’s tip: double the amount and freeze for dinner on the run.


9. Decomposed Lunch

Kids enjoy decomposed lunches. It is an excellent way to introduce them to a variety of meals. It’s also great when you’re not sure what to do or just don’t feel like it. Just grab a few ingredients from the fridge and pantry and tadam! Lunch is ready.

Here’s an example of a decomposed meal: raw vegetables + tofu or hummus spread, cheese + crackers. Finish with Greek yogurt.


10. Tofu or edamame spread

For a simple, versatile and tasty vegetarian cold meal, a tofu or edamame spread is what you need. It goes well with sliced bread/pita/naan or raw vegetables.

In short, for Marie-Ève, the secret to a varied diet is planning. By preparing vegetables ahead of time and having your pantry and freezer stocked, preparing lunches becomes much easier. As you’ve noticed, these 10 cold meal recipes can be used over and over again.

Her favourite book? Les lunchs de Geneviève written by nutritionist Geneviève O’Gleman. It will allow you to solve the lunch preparation puzzle once and for all.

If you need advice to better plan your meals or to adopt a healthier diet, don’t hesitate to contact Marie-Ève Forget.

Some of the recipes mentioned in the article :


Vegetarian Burritos

Tzatziki sauce

Spring rolls

Greek-style legume salad

Salad of legumes in the Moroccan way

Tabbouleh with white beans