Get inspired with over 25 healthy lunch ideas. From make-ahead meal prep to hearty salads and creamy soups, these easy recipes will inspire AND excite you for lunchtime!
I’m not going to lie. Lunch is usually the least exciting meal of the day for me. I’m usually busy or short on time, so the last thing I want to do is pause in the middle of my day to make a full meal. And trying to make a healthy lunch sounds even less exciting.
Luckily, there are plenty of easy and delicious healthy lunch recipes to keep you satisfied and energized without weighing you down or taking precious time out of your day.
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Tips for making a healthy lunch
I can not emphasize this enough: planning is your friend when it comes to making healthy lunches. It relieves you of decision fatigue, saves time, and guarantees you get a variety of nutritious ingredients into your lunches. Here are some tips for planning out your week:
- Meal prep is key. I like to dedicate Sundays to grocery shopping and meal prepping. That way, I can either grab my lunch before I head out or have all the ingredients I need on hand to quickly whip up a wrap or salad.
- Batch cook ingredients. Pick a theme and batch cook ingredients (like couscous) so the bulk of your lunch is already handled.
- Keep it simple. Stick to minimal ingredients and little to no cooking, especially if you’re not meal-prepping.
Hearty salads for lunch
Salads make a great lunch since you don’t have to reheat them, they’re light and healthy, and you can basically make them with whatever you have on hand.
- Greek couscous salad– We eat a lot of couscous in my family, and one of our favorite ways to prepare it is in this hearty, refreshing, tangy couscous salad.
- Asian chicken salad– Craving Asian flavors? This refreshing salad is made with crispy chicken tenders tossed with fresh salad greens and creamy almond butter dressing. Enjoy it with warm or cold chicken.
- Steak salad– The beauty of this hearty salad is you can make it with last night’s leftover sirloin steak, plus a handful of fresh veggies and salad greens, each of which can be swapped for whatever you have in your fridge.
- Shrimp salad– Make this light, refreshing shrimp salad with cold jumbo shrimp, lettuce, cucumber, creamy avocado, and a zesty dressing.
- Jennifer Aniston salad– The combination of textures and flavors in this salad is outrageous.
- Greek salad wrap– Mediterranean recipes always seem to take well to meal prep, and this refreshing Greek salad wrap is no exception.
Having leftovers from the night before makes planning lunch much easier. Each of these recipes makes the perfect dinner, and the leftovers reheat beautifully.
- Sheet pan chicken and veggies– An already effortless 30-minute meal that makes for the perfect meal prep. Use whatever veggies you have on hand and enjoy this fiber and protein-packed dish for lunch.
- Buttercup squash soup– On days when the weather is chilly, and all you want is a warm, comforting meal, this creamy buttercup squash soup is calling your name. Swap the heavy cream for vegetable stock to make an even leaner meal.
- No bean chili– This healthy, hearty recipe is packed with veggies and protein. You won’t even miss the beans.
- Low-calorie pasta– Everyone knows Italian food makes the best leftovers, and this low-calorie, high-protein pasta makes the BEST leftovers.
Meal prep lunches
Like I mentioned earlier, meal prep is the key to having a week’s worth of healthy lunches without wasting precious time. All of these recipes either reheat well or don’t require reheating at all.
- Air fryer salmon bites– These quick and easy air fryer salmon bites come together in 15 minutes and taste great as is or served on top of rice or air fryer broccoli.
- Baked chicken breast– Baked chicken is arguably the most versatile protein there is. Make this chicken the night before, then slice it and use it in wraps, sandwiches, salad, or stir fry.
- Shrimp pesto pasta– Bright, savory, and satisfying, this hearty pasta dish can be enjoyed hot or cold, as a side dish or the main.
- Sushi bake– I love having sushi for lunch, but sushi bakes are even better since they don’t have to be made fresh to keep their texture. This recipe makes 5-7 servings and tastes great hot or cold.
Veggie friendly lunches
We like having vegan lunches since they tend to be lighter and more plant-heavy, so I don’t feel weighed down or stuffed. Each of these lunch ideas are packed with veggies and plant-based protein, and most of them double as gluten-free too.
- Summer rolls– Light and refreshing, these summer rolls are packed with colorful veggies and make the perfect side to a balanced lunch. Make them the main course by adding in cooked tofu.
- Tuscan white bean soup– Warm, satisfying, and so comforting, this protein-packed white bean soup is gluten-free and budget-friendly.
- Pesto orzo salad– Tender orzo pasta is tossed with chickpeas, tangy feta, fresh veggies, and savory pesto. Add in some chopped cooked chicken for a heartier lunch.
- Curry fried rice– Fried rice is a go-to lunch in our house, especially when we have day-old rice on hand, and this recipe is a fun twist on the classic.
Lower carb lunch recipes
Even if you’re not fully on the low carb bandwagon, opting for low-carb lunches is a great hack for staying in shape and keeping you focused all afternoon.
- Egg salad– Egg salad makes for the perfect meal prep, especially this refreshing curry-infused version. Make it a keto sandwich with some keto bread or wraps.
- Sandwich– Tried and true, sandwiches are the go-to choice for lunches for a reason. This one is made with creamy avocado, crisp greens, and cheese, but you can use whatever toppings you want.
- Beef and broccoli– Savory, lean, fiber-packed, and super flavorful, this restaurant-style stir fry will convince you never to get takeout for lunch again.
- Air fryer chicken breast– Super versatile and packed with protein, add it to any salad or over some cauliflower rice.
- Broccoli and cheese soup– If you love Panera Bread, you know how good their broccoli cheese soup is. This recipe is just as good, if not better, and definitely healthier.
Frequently Asked Questions
A lunch full of vegetables, lean protein, and fiber is key to lose weight. Another fantastic option are leftovers served over brown rice or with a side of wheat bread.
All of the recipes shared in the post are all fantastic options for lunches at home, work, or at school. If you have heating facilities (like a microwave), these make fantastic meal prep ideas too.
Sandwiches and salads were once the most popular things to eat for lunch, but leftovers are becoming more popular.
25+ Healthy Lunch Ideas
- 1 lb lean steak skirt steak
- 1 14 oz can chickpeas drained
- 2 large tomatoes sliced
- 1 large cucumber chopped
- 1 small red onion chopped
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 large avocado sliced
- 1/4 cup Balsamic dressing
- Prepare five bowls, containers, or food storage containers and set aside.
- In a non-stick pan, add some oil and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add the skirt steak and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until fully cooked. Remove the steak from the pan and place it in tinfoil.
- Drain the chickpeas and set aside. Place a layer of spinach to the bottom of each container. Add the remaining vegetables, chickpeas, and drizzle with the balsamic dressing.
- Remove the steak from the foil and slice it into strips. Divide the steak amongst the five containers.
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