Struggling for lunch ideas? Try the following suggestions, which are sure to pull you out of your lunchtime rut.
Are you in a lunchtime rut? Many people claim they don’t have the time or energy to prepare their own lunch, so they rely on vending machines, fast food, costly cafeterias, or deli food.
Yet, a nourishing mid-day meal is a critical piece of any healthy meal plan. Check out the following ideas for quick, satisfying, and healthy lunch ideas that won’t bulge your waistline or your budget.
Eggs are packed with protein and make a great lunchtime choice. Since premade deli or supermarket egg salad is loaded with fat, making your own is your best bet. Use just a small amount of low-fat mayo stretched with plain yogurt. Season it with a dash of salt, pepper, onion powder, or even curry if you like. Increase bulk and flavor by adding chopped vegetables. Serve with whole grain crackers. This works with tuna or leftover chicken, too.
2 whole hardboiled eggs mashed with 1 tablespoon low-fat mayo, 1 tablespoon low-fat plain yogurt, 1 celery stalk and carrot stick each finely diced, 2 tablespoon finely diced onion, dash of onion powder, crushed pepper, and/or curry to taste, 6 whole grain crackers = 345 calories
Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Pair your tuna with something other than mayo by trying this simple Mediterranean-style recipe. Olive oil and fresh lemon juice, paired with just a small amount of olives and feta, are delicious combined with tuna and greens.
3 ounces canned albacore tuna, 1/2 cup cannellini beans, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 small diced tomato, 10 small chopped Greek pitted olives, 2 tablespoons feta cheese, 2 to 3 cups salad greens = 375 calories
Turkey Avocado Pita
Tired of the same old bland turkey sandwich? Instead of mayo or mustard, add creamy avocado slices for a dose of fiber and heart-healthy fat. Layer on some tomato, red onion, and romaine lettuce, and stuff into a whole-wheat pita.
2 ounces fresh or no-nitrate deli turkey, 1/2 of an avocado sliced, 2 slices each tomato and red onion, lettuce, 1 8-inch whole wheat pita = 365 calories
Roast Beef Wrap
Lean roast beef is only slightly higher in fat and calories than turkey or chicken, and it makes a good change of pace if you are in the mood for red meat. Mixing mayo and mustard lends a spicier flavor, and adding shredded cabbage works in some vegetables and crunch.
2 ounces lean roast beef, 1 thin slice Swiss cheese, 1/2 tablespoon low-fat mayo, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1/4 cup shredded cabbage, 2 slices tomato, 1 low-carb whole wheat wrap = 365 calories
Split Pea Soup
A warm bowl of soup can hit the spot on chilly days. Bean soups, such as split pea, navy, black bean, or lentil offer protein and are high in fiber to boot. This makes them a nutritious and filling option. Make your own, or choose from a variety of low-sodium canned choices at your local market.
1 can low-sodium split pea soup, 7 whole grain crackers = 335 calories
Cottage Cheese Parfait
Cottage cheese – often overlooked – is a delicious, portable, and versatile source of protein. Mixed with fruit and nuts, it makes for a satisfying lunch. Smaller portions can also serve as a breakfast or snack.
3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese or plain yogurt, 1 cup diced fruit, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, dash of cinnamon and vanilla (optional) = 380 calories
Tuscan Bean Delight
Besides protein, beans are filled with soluble fiber – the type of fiber helpful for lowering cholesterol and blood sugars. Though you can make them from scratch, the convenience of cooked canned beans can’t be beat. Just open and rinse. Adding a few choice ingredients turns this into a delicious, portable lunch.
1 cup cannellini beans, 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers, 1 medium diced carrot, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste = 320 calories
Sometimes a refreshing smoothie can do the trick at lunch, especially on a warm day. The secret is to make sure your “liquid” lunch has plenty of protein and staying power. Using tofu (or yogurt) and milk or soymilk plus a dose of healthy fat from peanut or almond butter makes this a satisfying meal that won’t leave you hungry an hour later.
1/4 cup silky tofu or plain yogurt, 3/4 cup vanilla soymilk, 1 cup frozen fruit, 1 1/2 tablespoon peanut or almond butter = 345 calories
Mexican Chicken and Bean Salad
Have some leftover chicken from last night’s dinner? Lend a Mexican flair and make it into an easy, filling salad. Beans, avocado, sour cream, and salsa provide the flavor, along with chili powder if you like extra spice.
2 ounces cooked shredded chicken sprinkled with dash of chili powder (to taste), 1/2 cup black or pinto beans, 1/2 diced avocado, 2 tablespoons salsa, 2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream, 2 cups shredded lettuce, 1 medium diced tomato = 385 calories
Hummus on English Muffin
Easy as 1, 2, 3. Hummus is creamy and satisfying and comes in many flavors, from red pepper and olive to garlic and lemon.
1 medium size pita or 100 percent whole wheat English muffin, 1/4 cup hummus, sliced tomato and red onion, 1 cup raw vegetables on the side = 325 calories