We have all been there…
An hour before lunchtime and the stomach starts to already growl for that midday meal.
By the time lunch rolls around, making healthy choices often takes the back seat while gravitating to any available sustenance takes the front. Something quick to satisfy that intense hunger in a hurry usually wins over waiting for a healthy option.
However, eating a healthy lunch is important for physical and mental health as a whole. Being prepared with delicious and nutritious options is also key to sticking to weight loss efforts.
Fortunately, these dietitian-approved, easy health lunch ideas are here to save the workday and pesky hunger. Bonus healthy lunch tips also await, so do not miss out on those provided below!
The Importance & Composition of a Healthy Lunch
Eating a protein-packed breakfast is the first step to keeping hunger levels at bay throughout the morning. So, naturally, the next step is taking a healthy lunch to work.
Like breakfast, eating these nutritious, balanced meals can offer many health benefits, including:
• Greater satiety
• Lesser risk of overeating come dinnertime
• Heightened energy levels
• Increased concentration and other cognitive processes
Really, eating a healthy lunch can benefit the latter half of the workday in so many ways! They also can lead to mega benefits in regards to long-term weight loss.
What Should a Healthy Lunch for Weight Loss Include?
A healthy lunch is much more than a leafy green salad. Absolutely can a salad be a healthy option but lunch, or all meals for that matter, should include the following elements:
• Lean protein: Protein is important for weight loss, as the macronutrient helps regulate hunger and related hunger hormones, supports lean muscle and metabolism, amongst other critical functions. When choosing protein, opt for leaner options to lower overall fat and calorie content. To elevate that leafy green salad, add grilled chicken, hard-boiled egg, canned tuna, etc.
• Fiber: Fiber is sourced from plant-based foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. It helps increase satiety much like fiber while also promoting good digestion, heart health, and more.
• Healthy fat: Including a healthy fat source, like olive oil or nuts, is helpful to prolong satiety. Dietary fat also helps absorb beneficial fat-soluble vitamins sourced from nutritious foods. Since fat is calorically dense, keep an eye on portion and serving sizes.
To ensure your healthy lunch checks all the boxes, follow these three key steps:
1. Fill half the plate with non-starchy veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, salad greens, and zucchini.
2. Designate a quarter for lean protein, including beans, chicken, sirloin, tofu, and turkey.
3. Use the remaining plate portion for a starch or fruit serving for an apple, brown rice, sweet potato, etc.
4. Dress the plate with healthy fat as desired, including a drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkle of nuts.
Overall, especially if weight loss is the goal, always balance meals with protein and fiber to keep hunger and cravings at bay. Enjoy a starch or fruit serving for added nutrients and complement meals with healthy fat most of the time.
For the ultimate lunch inspiration that applies the above principles, look no further than the healthy lunch ideas listed and detailed right below.
Easy & Healthy Lunch Ideas
From a light chicken salad to pizza pita pockets, do not miss out on these healthy lunch ideas for work. Not only are they simple to make, but are packed with nutrients and flavor to nourish and satisfy the body.
1. Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Dive into the fresh and nutritious flavors of this Mediterranean quinoa salad! Filled with plant-based protein and fiber from quinoa, beans, and various veggies, the salad is a nutrient powerhouse!
Enjoy as-is or use as a base and top with additional protein such as chicken or shrimp. Likewise modify produce as desired, including swapping sundried tomatoes for cherry tomato halves or bulking with other non-starchy veggies.
2. Waldorf Chicken Salad
Most chicken salad recipes are heavy in saturated fat and calories. But this variation is light and packed with protein and healthy fat. It is also sure to keep hunger eased for the rest of the afternoon!
What's more, it is made in batches to last for multiple lunches or even as a nutritious snack!
• 2 cups shredded chicken
• 1 apple of choice, diced
• 1/2 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup red grapes, halved
• 1/2 cup celery, roughly chopped
• 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
• 1/4 cup honey mustard
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.
2. Ration 1/4 of the chicken salad packing for lunch.
3. Enjoy as-is, smear onto whole-grain crackers, or top onto a bed of lettuce leaves. Also use as a dip for veggie slices, including carrot, cucumber, and bell pepper.
3. Mason Jar Salads
Mason jar salads are a convenient and easy healthy lunch idea, though prepping it can be an art. The secret to a beautiful and tasty mason jar salad all comes down to the order it is prepared.
For instance, layer wet and moisture-rich ingredients (like dressing) at the bottom and dryer ingredients (such as protein and seeds) towards the top. This strategic layering helps prevent a soggy and damp salad while storing and transporting.
Overall, mason jar salads are truly customizable! Delicious inspirations include leafy green salads to vibrant pasta salads.
4. Pizza Pita Pockets
Who says lunchtime is designated to a standard sandwich? Shake up the lunchtime by stuffing a pita with fresh and satisfying ingredients.
Need some inspiration? Give this pizza-style pita a try.
• 1, 8" pita
• 10 turkey pepperoni slices
• 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
• 1/4 cup marinara sauce
• 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp crushed red pepper
1. Slice the pita into two halves and open into "pockets".
2. Stuff the pockets with pizza toppings, also adjusting the ingredients to preference, and pack for lunch.
3. When ready to enjoy, nook briefly in the microwave to melt the cheese. Sprinkle with a light dusting of parmesan as desired.
4. Serve with a small side salad or steamed broccoli for a completely balanced lunch.
Endless possibilities for pita pockets await to embrace fresh ingredients and flavors! Want a plant-based option? Stuff with a chickpea salad by combining chickpeas, feta cheese, olives, and tomatoes. Try it rustic with sliced turkey, goat cheese, and thin slices of pear. Give a Philly cheesesteak a healthy makeover with roast beef, onion, bell pepper, and a wedge of provolone.
Speaking of pizza… While a chicken sausage and pepperoni calzone might seem "off-limits" when trying to lose weight, bistroMD makes it a convenient, healthy, and delicious reality!
With busy schedules, preparing a balanced dinner and packing a lunch day-in and day-out can be a challenge. If looking for healthy lunch options without the hassle of meal prep, look to a meal delivery service such as bistroMD!
BistroMD offers a delivery program that takes out the guesswork to help develop healthy eating habits. All meals are balanced and personalized to ensure nutrition needs for weight loss and overall health are being met.
Also offering 200 craveable recipes and a customizable menu, there is always a meal to satisfy all lunchtime cravings. Truly, making healthy food and lunch choices has never been so convenient, simple, and delicious!
5. Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry
Rather than resorting to Chinese takeout often laden in calories, give this beef and broccoli stir-fry a try! It is a great work lunch to pack for many reasons, including that it is simple to prepare, quick to reheat, and packed with protein and nutrients.
The stir-fry recipe is delicious and nutritious as is but also feel free to modify to personal preference. For instance, serve with a serving of brown rice or cauliflower rice to lower the carb content. Also, bulk with additional veggies or sub with a plant-based protein as desired.
6. Sesame Soba Noodles with Edamame
If looking for a gluten-free, plant-based healthy lunch, this sesame soba noodles with edamame is it! Even if not needing gluten-free or plant-based, this sesame soba noodles with edamame is still it!
Like stir-fry, the healthy lunch option is completely flexible. Add volume and nutrients by tossing in favorite veggies, including asparagus, bell pepper, and cauliflower.
7. Cucumber Sushi
Cucumber sushi is one of the most fun lunch ideas for work! They are also versatile to take on favorite sushi flavors, including the inspiration from a California roll detailed below.
Feel free to adjust ingredients, including using salmon, shrimp, tuna, and other favorite fish.
• 1 cucumber
• 3 oz crab meat, real or imitation
• 1/4 cup sushi rice, cooked
• 1/4 avocado, sliced
• 1/4 red pepper, sliced
1. Cut cucumber in half. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds of each half so it forms a hollow tube.
2. Spoon in sushi rice, crabmeat, avocado, and red pepper into each cucumber half until full.
3. Cut the filled cucumber into thick pieces, in which the toppings should be visible in the center.
4. Pack then dress with Sriracha and soy sauce as desired when ready to enjoy.
8. Turkey Chili
A quick 30 minutes and a few common ingredients are all that is needed for this turkey chili recipe! The chili is completely balanced with protein and fiber to keep hunger at bay for hours and
9. Thai Lettuce Wraps
Boston lettuce is surprisingly strong and their wide leaves are truly begging to be filled with this Thai-inspired recipe!
Ingredients for the filling:
• 1 Tbsp sesame oil
• 1 package of ground turkey
• 3 green onions, thinly sliced
• 1 Tbsp minced garlic
• 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
• 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
• 1 Tbsp Sriracha (or adjusted to spice preference)
• Boston lettuce
1. In a large pan over medium heat, heat oil and cook turkey until crumbled, brown, and no longer pink. Add the green onions and garlic.
2. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, vinegar, and Sriracha until combined. Add the mixture to the turkey and increase to medium-high heat. Allow the turkey and sauce mixture to heat and combine for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. When taking this healthy lunch for work, pack 1/4 of the filling. Also, pack Boston lettuce separately. When lunch rolls around, simply spoon the turkey mixture into lettuce leaves, wrap, and enjoy!
10. Tuna Salad
Boston lettuce also perfectly houses this light, yet satisfying tuna salad.
• 5-ounce can of wild albacore tuna, drained
• 1 small avocado, cubed
• 1 large carrot, diced
• 1 celery stalk, diced
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix all ingredients until combined in a sealable container.
2. Pack tuna salad mixture and lettuce separately and assemble come lunchtime as indicated above.
11. Southwestern Zucchini Noodle Bowl
This healthy lunch idea is similar to a burrito bowl but without being heavy in carbs from large portions of rice. It can be prepped ahead of time, stores well in a meal prep bowl or mason jar, and comes perfectly together in less than 20 minutes!
• 1 medium zucchini
• 3 oz cubed chicken breast
• 1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
• 1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1/4 cup canned corn, rinsed and drained
• 1/2 avocado, sliced
• 1/4 tsp cayenne
• 1/4 tsp cumin
• Squeeze of lime juice
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the zucchini noodles by spiralizing the zucchini. Add to a storage container of choice.
2. Layer with chicken, lettuce black beans, corn, and avocado. Season with cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper.
3. Also feel free to add other favorite toppings, including tomatoes, onions, peppers, jalapenos, and salsa.
Bonus Healthy Lunch Ideas for Weight Loss
In addition to trying the healthy lunches for work mentioned above, give these bonus tips a shot.
1. Create a Healthy Bento Box
Creating a healthy bento box is a simple meal prep method for packing lunches. Mix and match a variety of food choices while ensuring to include a balance of protein, fiber, and
2. Pack Leftovers
Let that healthy dinner prepared last night spill over to healthy lunches for work! Because if already preparing a meal, why not make a little more for lunch the next day?
3. Batch Cook
Batch cooking is a meal prep method in which food is prepared in advance.
Make a few extra meatballs and a little extra side of sautéed veggies. Also make a big batch of slow-cooker soups, chilis (like the turkey chili mentioned above), and casseroles. Not only can this help save on money, but ease the workday and ensure a satisfying lunch hour.
The Bottom Line On Healthy Lunches
Gone are the days of packing a peanut butter sandwich or resorting to drive-thrus day-in and day-out. Preparing and packing these healthy lunch ideas for work not only can keep energy heightened but can leverage weight loss and health goals.
Trusting in a weight loss meal delivery service can also make healthy lunches a breeze!