Pack a Finger-Food Lunch in Under 5 Minutes

School lunch box with books and pencils
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One of the most common challenges I see my clients struggle with is how to eat a healthy lunch. Too often, busy schedules lead them to either skip lunch or choose something quick and processed. While skipping lunch or eating out once in a while might not be a big issue, if it becomes a pattern it can wreak havoc on your metabolism and overall health. Plus, skipping lunch can lead to overeating at the next meal or skipping a workout.

Luckily, you can avoid all that with a finger-food lunch (also known as an “adult Lunchable”)! The great thing about this type of meal is that the ingredients require little-to-no prep and can be thrown together in the morning in under five minutes. While I’m not an advocate of eating at your desk (I think everyone deserves a break), a finger-food lunch easily can be eaten while you keep cranking away on your busiest days.

To build a healthy, balanced, finger-food lunch, pick one item from each category below.

Category 1: Proteins

  • Lunch meat such as free-range/grass-fed/organic/uncured chicken, turkey, bison, beef or ham
  • Smoked salmon
  • Shrimp cocktail (it sounds weird, I know, but it works!)
  • Uncured, nitrate-free bacon or turkey bacon
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Edamame or tofu
  • Cottage cheese (you’ll need to bring a spoon or use a whole-grain cracker or chip to scoop it up)

Category 2: Healthy Fats

  • Avocado cubes
  • A scoop of guacamole
  • Cheese
  • Hummus
  • Nut-and-seed mix
  • Nut butter or seed butter

Category 3: Vegetables

Any veggies you can eat with your hands will work. Some of my favorites are:

  • Baby carrots
  • Snap peas
  • Snow peas
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Zucchini slices
  • Cucumber slices or mini cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery sticks

Category 4: “Goodies”

In my mind, no lunch is complete without a goody.

  • Piece of fruit
  • Low-sugar yogurt (look for one with a nutrition label that says it has more grams of protein than sugar)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Whole-grain crackers or chip

Try One of These Combinations

  1. Grass-fed bison cold cuts + avocado slices + cherry tomatoes + an apple
  2. Turkey cold cuts + goat-milk cheddar cheese + snap peas + yogurt
  3. Turkey bacon + carrots + guacamole + dark chocolate
  4. Shrimp cocktail and cocktail sauce + turkey bacon + avocado + cherry tomatoes
  5. Chicken cold cuts + peanut butter + celery + an apple

You get the idea! A healthy lunch does not need to be elaborate, cost a lot, or take a long time to make.

* This blog was adapted from an original post on on Kelli Shallal’s Hungry Hobby blog.

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Kelli Shallal
Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD, is a Phoenix-based registered dietitian, personal trainer, nutrition counselor and communications specialist. Read her blog, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.