Building a Healthy Lunchbox

Building a Healthy Lunchbox

A healthy, balanced meal provides us with the energy and nutrition to function at our nest. A balanced lunch includes vegetables, fruit, dairy, lean protein and whole grains.

Start with a whole grain

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Whole wheat tortilla or wrap
  • Soft corn tortillas
  • Quinoa, bulgur, wheat berries
  • Pasta, whole wheat or multigrain
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Brown rice or oatmeal

Add some protein

  • Chicken or turkey breast
  • Tofu, tempeh or edamame
  • Lunchmeat, low sodium, no nitrates
  • Veggie burger
  • Tuna or salmon packet
  • Beans (i.e., black, chickpea)
  • Nuts (i.e., pistachios, walnuts, almonds)

Fill up with veggies

  • Lettuce (i.e., spinach, romaine, leaf, arugula, kale)
  • Carrot and celery sticks
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Roasted veggies (i.e., parsnips, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, zucchini)
  • Cucumber and tomato slices
  • Fresh salsa (tomato, red onion, avocado and cilantro)

Pick a side of fruit

  • Berries (i.e., raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)
  • Orange or grapefruit
  • Pears or apples
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Dried plums or dates

Choose a serving of dairy (also a great source of protein*)

  • Greek yogurt (nonfat or low-fat)
  • Skim milk or soy milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Low-fat cheese slices
  • Low-fat cheese sticks
  • Kefir
  • Nondairy milk alternatives (i.e., almond or cashew milk)
    *While this is a healthy option, does not provide significant protein


  • Combine any of the ingredients in the chart on the other side into sandwiches, wraps, jar salads, soup, or yogurt and oatmeal parfait.
  • Add healthy lunch items to your grocery list. Prep items on the weekend to save time (cut up veggies, cook protein and portion snacks).
  • Pack your lunch the night before so the morning rush does not keep you from making a healthy lunch.
  • Don’t have all the fixings at home to make a healthy lunch? Toss a packet of tuna, Greek yogurt and bottle of water in your lunchbox. Then purchase a salad at work, add your tuna and eat your yogurt on the side for a healthy lunch.
  • Always drink water with lunch! Pack a refillable water bottle. Add some fresh fruit or herbs to avor your water for something different.


Mason Jar Salad

Start with a 3-cup Mason jar (or bigger) and layer the below ingredients:

  • ½ cup cooked whole grain (quinoa, brown rice or wheat berries)
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive-oil-based salad dressing
  • ½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and/or celery
  • ½ cup cooked, chopped chicken (or black beans)
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • ¼ cup reduced fat shredded cheese

This can save in the refrigerator for three to five days. Make ahead! When lunch time rolls around, pour into a large bowl, mix and enjoy.

Spicy Salmon Sandwich

Make the salmon salad ahead of time, pack in a small container. Toast bread in the morning. Assemble sandwich at lunch.

  • 2 pieces of whole wheat bread, toasted • Leaf lettuce, 2 leaves
  • 4 oz. salmon, packet
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. dried dill
  • ¼ tsp. garlic, minced
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced fat, olive oil mayo
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha

Combine lemon through Srirachi in a small bowl. Mix in salmon. Place in air-tight container. Place 2 leaves of lettuce in a baggie. In the morning, toast bread, allow to cool slightly, place in small sandwich container. Assemble sandwich at lunch time. Add a small apple and cheese stick to complete your meal.

To schedule an appointment with a University Hospitals dietitian, call 216-844-1499. A physician referral is required to make an appointment. Our schedulers can assist in obtaining the appropriate referral.

Make an Appointment

Schedule your appointment with a heart or vascular specialist at University Hospitals:

Office appointment with a cardiologist or vascular surgeon
216-844-3800 or
1-866-UH4-CARE (1-866-844-2273)

Office appointment with a heart surgeon

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