99 healthy lunch ideas for weight loss you’ll love (2024)

What makes a lunch good for weight loss?

A good lunch for weight loss should help you feel full while also staying in a calorie deficit.Just as importantly, the meal should be delicious.

Losing weight takes time—1 to 2 pounds per week is a safe and healthy rate—which means the changes you make to your diet and habits need to be sustainable.

Munching on carrot sticks and lettuce every day isn’t something most of us want to do long term. (Unless carrots and lettuce are your favorite foods—in which case, munch away. We won’t judge.)

By choosing nutrient-rich whole foods and foods with a low-caloric density, you can make satisfying and delicious lunches that help you stay on track.

5 tips for making a healthy lunch for weight loss

Before we get to the recipes, let’s talk about how to set yourself up for success.

1. Fill up on fruits and veggies

Because lunches sometimes can feel rushed, processed foods often get tossed into our lunch boxes. Replace those items with whole fruits and vegetables that don’t require a lot of prep.

Broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, or celery are all quick grab-and-go options to help keep you feeling satisfied. Add a piece of fruit for a healthy sweet treat.

2. Pick out your protein and fats

Protein and healthy fats help you feel full and fueled throughout the day.

Look for recipes with lean protein options or even vegetarian items if that’s something that interests you. Some examples include chicken, chickpeas, tofu, or even a cup of Greek yogurt.

If you’re really crunched for time in the afternoon, you might incorporate a protein shake.

Healthy fats like olive oil can make flavorful and satisfying dips and dressings. You might also add a handful of nuts or a half an avocado to your lunch box.

3. Choose your whole grain or complex starch

The keyword here is complex. Simple starches and carbohydrates tend to be processed and high in sugars.

Choosing a whole grain for your lunch incorporates fiber to help you feel satisfied longer and help prevent an afternoon slump.

Some good options are whole grain bread, quinoa, brown rice, or black beans.

4. Create a routine

Put your lunch together the night before, or create a weekly shopping and meal prepping routine. Planning ahead will keep you from jamming whatever you can find into your lunch box on busy mornings.

The key is making sure you have plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods you love on hand. The more convenient these are to grab, the more often you’ll find yourself eating them.

5. Think outside the (lunch) box

Sometimes the same old sandwich can get boring. If you’re not excited about the lunch you packed, you may opt for something less healthy.

Keep yourself engaged with lunch by branching out and trying new recipes. You may find new favorite go-to lunches.

Another way to encourage a variety of lunches: Buy different types of containers to make it easy to transport and enjoy different types of foods (like soups, salads, or casseroles).

Low-calorie lunches for weight loss

Now it’s time for the lunch ideas and recipes. Whether you’re looking for something quick and portable or warm and comforting, we’ve got you covered.

These 99 healthy lunch ideas for weight loss all have under 500 calories.

Quick lunch ideas for weight loss

Sometimes, you just have to eat lunch in a rush. Whip up a healthy, tasty, and satisfying meal in 15 minutes or less with these ideas.

Salads are a lunchtime staple for good reason—they’re easy to prep ahead of time, and you can create endless combinations of flavors and textures.

1. Shaved Brussels sprouts salad from Tasting Table (282 calories)

2. Chopped Cobb salad from EatingWell (481 calories)

3. Thai prawn mango salad from My Food Story (383 calories)

4. White bean caprese salad from Mrs. Jones’ Kitchen (227 calories)

5. Mediterranean chickpea salad from Simply Recipes (316 calories)

6. Cucumber, tomato, and arugula salad with hummus from EatingWell (422 calories)

Seafood is packed with protein and healthy fats and cooks up quickly, making it a great weight-loss lunch option.

7. Asian orzo and shrimp from Noom (386 calories)

8. Baked cod with Cajun garlic butter from Lemon Blossoms (168 calories)

9. Salmon wraps 3 ways from Sweet Peas and Saffron (274 calories)

10. Garlic shrimp and asparagus with zucchini noodles from Eating Bird Food (321 calories)

There’s no faster or more economical lunch than leftovers. With some pre-cooked chicken, you can throw one of these recipes together in no time.

11. Vietnamese noodle bowl with chicken from Ahead of Thyme (474 calories)

12. 5-minute buffalo chicken wrap from Everyday Family Cooking (389 calories)

13. Easy BBQ chicken salad from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen (376 calories)

Work-friendly lunch ideas for weight loss

When you’re working outside the home, you need a healthy, low-calorie lunch that you can prep, pack, and eat without a fuss.

Sandwiches and wraps are great portable lunch options. Just combine your favorite fillings in a tortilla, a piece of bread, or a sturdy lettuce leaf.

14. Healthy turkey wraps from Chelsea’s Messy Apron (268 calories)

15. Thai turkey lettuce wraps from Sweet Peas and Saffron (264 calories)

16. Lemongrass chicken banh mi sandwich from Ahead of Thyme (329 calories)

17. Cucumber sandwich from EatingWell (358 calories)

Or you can save the wrap and toss some protein and veggies in a bowl, with or without rice. (Just don’t forget to pack a fork.)

18. 20-minute meal-prep chicken, rice, and broccoli from Gimme Delicious (356 calories)

19. Chipotle chicken burrito bowl with cauliflower rice from EatingWell (431 calories)

20. Egg roll in a bowl from Well Plated (263 calories)

A cold, noodle-based salad makes a great grab-it-from-the-fridge-and-go lunch.

21. BLT pasta salad from BBC Good Food (332 calories)

22. Asian chicken soba noodle salad from Sweet Peas and Saffron (382 calories)

23. Grilled chicken, bacon, ranch pasta salad from Ambitious Kitchen (484 calories)

24. Chicken Caesar pasta salad from Joyful Healthy Eats (443 calories)

25. Soy honey noodle salad from Simply Delicious (456 calories)

26. Summer pasta salad from The Real Food Dietitians (355 calories)

Make these savory meals at home to bring to the office for lunch. Reheat and enjoy.

27. Paleo meal prep gyoza meatballs from I Heart Umami (222 calories)

28. 30-minute lemon chicken from Chef Savvy (316 calories)

29. Lighter Mongolian beef prep from Sweet Peas and Saffron (473 calories)

30. Instant pot Pakistani chana dal from Tea for Turmeric (238 calories)

Cold lunch ideas for weight loss

A simple cold lunch is ideal when you’re eating on the go and don’t have access to a microwave, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

Kick your salad game up a notch with one of these recipes.

31. Tuna nicoise salad from Chelsea’s Messy Apron (377 calories)

32. Green bean and tomato salad from Healthier Steps (229 calories)

33. Chicken kale waldorf salad with avocado and goat cheese from Ambitious Kitchen (308 calories)

34. Broccoli salad from Everyday Family Cooking (421 calories)

35. Sonoma chicken salad from Craving California (488 calories)

36. Avocado egg salad from Girl Gone Gourmet (192 calories)

37. 15-minute healthy Moroccan spiced Greek yogurt chicken salad from Ambitious Kitchen (255 calories)

38. Healthy fig, prosciutto, and goat cheese salad from Eat This, Not That! (230 calories)

39. Keto tuna salad cups from Food Network (250 calories)

40. Grilled shrimp salad from Eating Bird Food (297 calories)

But there’s more to cold lunches than just salads—step out of your comfort zone with one of these surprisingly easy recipes.

41. Vietnamese summer rolls with chicken from Ahead of Thyme (243 calories)

42. Open smoked salmon sandwiches with whipped goat cheese from Simply Delicious (404 calories)

43. Gazpacho from Girl Gone Gourmet (163 calories)

44. Sesame peanut noodles from Simply Recipes (226 calories)

99 healthy lunch ideas for weight loss you’ll love (2024)


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