When you’re looking to eat healthier, salads are usually a go-to healthy meal choice, especially for lunch. They are chock-full of healthy veggies, filling, and easy to eat in between meetings. But five-times-a-week salads can get redundant, especially if you turn to the same combo day after day. This could lead you to become so bored with your go-to meal, you reach for something entirely unhealthy instead. Change things up by incorporating these healthy lunch recipes for weight loss, each of which is packed with nutrients that provide much-needed energy to get you through the rest of the day.
What are some healthy lunch ideas?
You’re probably searching for healthy lunch ideas for one (or more) of a couple of reasons: (1) It’s lunchtime and you have no idea what to feed yourself. (2) You’re sick of eating salads or deli sandwiches every day. (3) You’d like to start meal prepping your lunches. And (4) you simply want inspiration for how to switch up your routine.
Lucky for you, we have answers to all your lunchtime needs—whether you’re feeding yourself at home, at work, or on-the-go. While we did compile a master list of all our favorite healthy lunch recipes, here’s a cheat sheet for some healthy lunch ideas:
Our favorite healthy lunch recipes.
This is a crazy idea, but hear us out: your lunch doesn’t have to be a completely thought out meal. By that we mean you don’t need prep and prepare a composed meal like a steak sandwich or a mushroom pesto ravioli. You can also consider putting together some bento box ideas (they’re not just for kids!) that feature a little bit of everything you want to snack on. Consider themes like:
- Mediterranean lunch box: hummus and pita with a cucumber, tomato, onion, feta salad and a side of kalamata olives
- Breakfast-style lunch box: everything bagel pretzels, hard-boiled eggs, apple slices, cheddar cheese
- Veggie lunch box: roasted chickpeas, fresh peppers, cucumbers, carrots, green goddess dressing, almonds
If you’re in the market for some healthy lunch ideas, here are dozens of our favorite recipes to make for our midday meal.
The recipe used by most establishments tells all: They usually use 2 parts mayo to 1 part tuna. Our version replaces the bulk of the mayo with a considerably healthier supporting cast that adds to the flavor without adding extra fat: pesto, lemon juice, olives, and onions. That means you can taste something other than fat when you’re eating it and feel something other than fat when you’re through.
Get our recipe for Italian Tuna Melt.
These chicken meatballs are inspired by street-corner grills in Vietnam and Thailand, where ginger, garlic, and chiles reign supreme. With those bold flavors, plus the char of a hot charcoal grill, you won’t need a fat-heavy mix of meat, or even a pile of spaghetti, to make an outstanding dinner (or lunch!) with this chicken meatballs recipe. Serve them with steamed rice, cucumbers, maybe a bit of sauce, and big lettuce leaves for wrapping.
Get our recipe for Asian Chicken Meatballs.
Chicken noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food, especially during the cold weather months. We’ve made our special light version by swapping in zucchini noodles for regular noodles, which makes this recipe gluten-free, paleo, and Whole30-approved.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Zoodle Soup.
We use a modest amount of olive-oil-based mayo, then punch up the flavor with plump golden raisins and the complex savory notes of curry powder in this chicken salad sandwich recipe. Make a big batch of the salad as part of your weekly meal planning and work it into other sandwiches, stuffed in pitas, or crowning a bowl of mixed greens.
Get our recipe for Chicken Salad Sandwich with Curry and Raisins.
With ham, turkey, bacon, and mayo, you won’t believe this hearty sandwich is under 350 calories.
Get our recipe for Ultimate Club Sandwich with Super Mayo.
With mandarins and toasted almonds, it’s the perfect blend of sweet and savory.
Get our recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad.
Keep it simple with this chicken panini recipe: A light, healthy spread like pesto, a low-calorie cheese like fresh mozz, and a layer of lean white meat chicken deliver all the same flavor and a tasty crunch for a fraction of the calories.
Get our recipe for Italian Panini with Provolone, Peppers, and Arugula.
By turning the bread into crunchy croutons and the lettuce into the base of a salad, you minimize the refined carbs and maximize the healthiest part of the equation. Toss in a handful of cubed deli turkey to boost the protein, and suddenly you have a salad with substance and style to tuck into.
Get our recipe for Turkey BLT Salad.
Most quiches suffer the burden of excessive amounts of heavy cream and cheese—and often a trans-fat-laden crust. This quiche dispenses with the heavy dose of dairy fat and instead gets its flavor and substance from antioxidant-dense sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and lean chicken sausage. It’s one of our easiest healthy lunch recipes you can easily meal prep for the week.
Get our recipe for Artichoke-Feta Quiche.
This recipe requires absolutely no effort, save for about 2 minutes of slicing and 2 minutes of toasting. Plus, it morphs easily into other dishes. Not in the mood for a sandwich? Ditch the bread and eat this as a salad for one of the easiest healthy lunch recipes you can throw together.
Get our recipe for Caprese Sandwich.
Chicken potstickers aren’t just meant to be eaten as an appetizer! Pair these potstickers with fresh vegetables and a salad, and you can easily add them to your list of healthy lunch ideas.
Get our recipe for Chicken Pot Stickers.
When you make this pesto gnocchi, figure 2 tablespoons per plate—and throw in some healthy extras like tomatoes and green beans to bring substance and balance to the bowl.
Get our recipe for Pesto Gnocchi with Green Beans and Tomatoes.
These lean turkey baked meatballs pack a punch of spice and are the perfect comfort food for a Whole30 diet. They are flavorful thanks to the dried herbs and fresh chopped parsley, while almond meal keeps them moist, standing in for the breadcrumbs. This dish is Whole30-approved and gluten-free.
Get our recipe for Spicy Turkey Meatballs with Sweet Potato Fries.
To take this meal on the go (or use up slightly mushy avocados), turn it into a dip by mashing the avocado and mixing in the bagel seasoning and lemon juice in a small to-go container. Top with freshly chopped dill and radish slices and dip!
Get our recipe for Avocado Crispbreads with Everything Bagel Seasoning.
Skip the line (and the calories) at Wendy’s and make your own version of their chili for lunch instead! Thanks to a clear list of ingredients on the Wendy’s website, it’s one of the easiest healthy lunch recipes to throw together.
Get our recipe for Copycat Wendy’s Chili.
Yes, burgers are one of the easiest healthy lunch recipes you can make for yourself. It just depends on what you serve with it! We’ve gone ahead and helped you out by reinventing the chicken burger, using a lean grind of meat and a hugely flavorful—but surprisingly low-calorie—spiked mayo to deliver on the promise of a truly healthy burger you can happily indulge in.
Get our recipe for Chicken Burgers with Sun-dried Tomato Aioli.
Our grilled cheese is a play on that gooey Southern staple, pimento cheese, which diffuses the calories of the cheese with healthy additions like roasted peppers and Greek yogurt. The soup? Pure tomato intensity, thanks to the oven roasting, which concentrates the natural sugars of the tomatoes. Get the comfort, with half the calories, with one of our favorite healthy lunch recipes.
Get our recipe for Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.
Instead of being slathered in a sea of sauce, we chose to crown our BLT with a soft, oozing fried egg—the only condiment you need. It adds gooey goodness and a punch of protein you’ll be glad to have.
Get our recipe for the Ultimate BLT.
This recipe can be served on a skewer, but can also be put into a pita bread as a sandwich or served on a bed of rice with tahini sauce.
Get our recipe for Lamb Kofte Kebabs With Tahini Garlic Sauce.
This paleo recipe not only packs in the protein and fiber, but it also adds even more nutritional value than the usual ramen noodle package at the store. With real chicken, vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs, this homemade ramen will nourish your body with nutrients, plus filling protein to keep you satiated. Bonus: it’s also lower in sodium than the store-bought counterpart!
Get our recipe for Chicken Ramen with Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach.
This healthy minestrone soup recipe is a hodgepodge of veggies that will go a long way in making sure your diet is not lacking in its necessary greenery. Vary the specific vegetables depending on what’s in your fridge and what looks good in the market, but be sure to finish with a spoonful of jarred pesto, which helps tie the whole bowl together.
Get our recipe for Minestrone with Pesto.
Tossed with a good dose of bright, mildly spicy salsa verde, rotisserie chicken is the perfect filling for tacos, burritos, and even enchiladas. Indeed, there might not be a better use of a supermarket rotisserie chicken.
Get our recipe for Chicken Tacos with Salsa Verde.
Our version of the carne asada burrito, modestly scaled-down compared to restaurant burritos, concentrates on the most important parts of the burrito: guac, black beans, and, above all, juicy chunks of marinated skirt steak.
Get our recipe for Carne Asada Burrito.
Why eat a restaurant salad if it’s going to cost you the calorie intake of more than a full-sized meal? Enter our healthy fig and prosciutto salad recipe. In this version, there are a quarter of the calories! We pair strips of salty, intense prosciutto with juicy, ripe figs. Add the tang of fresh goat cheese and the subtle, earthy crunch of toasted pine nuts and this makes for one inspired salad.
Get our recipe for Fig, Prosciutto, & Goat Cheese Salad.
Unlike so many vegetarian dishes out there masquerading as healthier than the meaty creations they replace (yes, we’re looking at you, 1,490-calorie mushroom burger from The Cheesecake Factory), you could eat this cheesesteak seven days a week and end up skinnier than when you started. And trust us, you won’t even have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it!
Get our recipe for Portobello Cheesesteak.
Our version of the cheesesteak sandwich—which relies on a lean flank steak, a whole-wheat roll, and a yogurt-based blue cheese sauce—is a bit fancier than the sandwich from the City of Brotherly Love. But to our tastes, it’s also better. How often does better and lower fat happen in the same sentence?
Get our recipe for Cheesesteak Sandwich.
You may not believe us, but we did end up finding a way to eat vegetables that tastes like mac and cheese. How, you ask? By making these mac and cheese cups with veggie elbow macaroni! Sneak in some extra vegetable nutrients by swapping out regular elbow macaroni with veggie elbow macaroni!
Get our recipe for Crispy Crumb-Topped Mac and Cheese Cups.
It’s the low-calorie dish you can have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Get our recipe for Spinach and Ham Quiche.
Now wraps at places like P.F. Chang’s and The Cheesecake Factory are overwrought affairs packing as many calories into an appetizer as you should have in an entire meal. Consider this version a blissful, healthy, flavor-packed return to the wrap’s humble roots, and you’ll save hundreds of calories in the process.
Get our recipe for Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps.
RELATED: Easy, healthy, 350-calorie recipe ideas you can make at home.
Between the pulled chicken, the soothing tomato broth, and the pile of fixings, what’s not to love?
Get our recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup.
A few years back, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s reached out to us and asked for help designing a new line of turkey burgers that would improve on an otherwise high-calorie menu. A lot of time and testing went into the burgers, during which we learned just how well turkey takes to intense, vibrant flavors that might not jibe as well with beef. In the end, this spicy-cool burger didn’t make it on the menu, but it remains one of the best turkey burgers we’ve had. Now, with this turkey burger recipe, you can judge for yourself…
Get our recipe for Southwest Turkey Burger.
This recipe transforms the high-calorie dressing into a lighter vinaigrette and adds substance, flavor, and nutrition in the form of sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Think of this as the Caesar salad, reimagined.
Get our recipe for Grilled Caesar Salad.
In this healthier buffalo chicken sandwich recipe, we stay true to the flavors people love by basting the chicken in hot sauce and butter after grilling, topping with a yogurt-based blue cheese sauce—but manage to do what no one else out there has done yet: make Buffalo chicken into a healthy meal.
Get our recipe for Buffalo Chicken and Blue Cheese Sandwich.
Mason jar salads are an easy way to make your healthy lunch recipes ahead of time for the week, so you won’t be tempted to buy lunch out after you get to the office. This recipe will take a bit of work, including cooking the salmon fillets. However, it will stay fresh in the fridge for up to three days, so one day’s worth of prep will give you four salads to tuck away.
Get our recipe for Clean Bean, Salmon, and Kale Salad.
Here, we take the classic Italian pasta pairing of peas and prosciutto, replace the noodles with dumplings, and throw in plenty of asparagus to round out the creation. You can make this gnocchi recipe richer with a drizzle of cream or half-and-half or a bit of butter, but this one is great as-is.
Get our recipe for Gnocchi with Peas and Prosciutto.
It’s a warm bowl of goodness that’s perfect for your lunch meal prep.
Get our recipe for Meatball Soup.
You can load this one full of vegetables, doubling the amount used below, and end up with a chunky, sausage-strewn minestrone. And if you want to cut out the pasta all together, replace farfalle with your favorite brown rice or quinoa. Either way, this Italian sausage soup is hearty enough to work as dinner on its own.
Get our recipe for Italian Sausage Soup.
Forget splurging for a fried restaurant version when you can make this one right at home. It’s one of those healthy lunch recipes you’re going to want to meal prep over-and-over again.
Get our recipe for Crab Cakes with Mango-Avocado Salsa.
The classic tomato salad from Capri, Italy, is a study in simplicity: sweet, acidic tomatoes contrasted with creamy mozzarella slabs and the bright herbal bite of fresh basil, yet with a complex taste you’ll crave.
Get our recipe for Caprese Tomato Towers.
With the addition of caramelized apples, toasted pecans, and creamy goat cheese, this retro spinach salad finally achieves perfect harmony with nearly half of the caloric intake as a similar salad in a restaurant.
Get our recipe for Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing.
Pasta is forever a go-to comfort food, and this recipe makes for the perfect, good-for-you dish you can indulge in. It’s certainly not a boring desk salad, making it the perfect addition to your rotation of healthy lunch recipes.
Get our recipe for Bolognese Fettuccine with Turkey.
Skip Chinese takeout for lunch and throw together a few containers of this chili-mango chicken instead. Serve on rice, or keep it low-carb by serving it with some cauliflower rice.
Get our recipe for Chili-Mango Chicken.
This grilled chicken sandwich delivers heroic flavor by employing chimichurri, an Argentine herb-based sauce that would make shoe leather taste like fine dining, along with a solid supporting cast of sweet peppers, sharp raw onions, and peppery greens. Good luck finding a side salad, let alone a real sandwich, at a restaurant for 310 calories.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chimichurri.
Now, you might be thinking that a goulash—which is a meat and veggies stew—would require a lot of time, but our recipe is made for your slow cooker. All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients into it, and let the time-saving appliance work its magic while you do whatever it is you need to do. It’s that easy!
Get our recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Goulash.
Low in calories, but high in flavor? Yes, this flavorful black bean soup really hits the spot. Plus, it’s perfect for your lunch meal prep!
Get our recipe for Cuban Tomato and Black Bean Soup.
By adding tons of yummy veggies in the mix, you won’t turn to the takeout menu again.
Get our recipe for Chicken Fried Rice.
This soup is infused with pork, beans, peppers, russet potatoes, onions, and roasted corn, which gives our soup a hearty texture that’s actually filling–no limp noodles and broth here! It’s low in calories and will give you 25 grams of protein, plus six grams of fiber, meaning it’s a great healthy lunch recipe for weight loss.
Get our recipe for Green Chile Pork Soup.
This may seem like a breakfast recipe, but trust us, it’s just a delicious during lunchtime. An open-face sandwich is an easy way to cut back on calories because there is only one slice of bread involved, so you can still satisfy your sandwich craving and reach your weight loss goals.
Get our recipe for Open-Face Hot Ham and Cheese with Chipotle Mayo.
This burrito is American in spirit, which is to say it’s hearty and generously filled, but without the caloric excesses found at Chipotle Mexican Grill, Baja Fresh, and the country’s other burrito barons. We’ve not only made this recipe so that it will save you in calories, but it’s also quick and easy to make, so it’ll save you time, too.
Get our recipe for Chicken Fajita Burritos.
This tuna melt recipe is one of a kind, simply by the way it is made. Similar to an open-faced tuna melt, these tuna melts have a bread base with a cheesy, tuna salad filling on top. Assembling them is much easier than you think—perfect for your weekly meal prep.
Get our recipe for Cranberry Mustard Mini Tuna Melts.
Once you’ve seen how easy it can be to make a smoothie bowl, you might just bid your breakfast (or lunch!) smoothie goodbye. Either way, it’s one nutritious acai bowl recipe you’ll want to keep in your back pocket for those days you’re craving a sweeter breakfast. Plus, it’s so pretty, you’ll definitely want to ‘gram it.
Get our recipe for Acai Bowls.
This easy, nutrient-rich meal takes just five minutes to make, and it’s even easier if you chop the vegetables ahead of time. All you need is a mug, some cooking spray, and a microwave, and you’ll have a filling meal ready to go in no time. And with just 314 calories and 519 milligrams of sodium per serving, this mug recipe is way healthier than many of the grab-and-go breakfast options out there.
Get our recipe for Broccoli-Cheese Eggs in a Mug.
Mac and cheese on a list of healthy lunch recipes? No, we’re not kidding! To keep this mac and cheese on the lighter side, you can’t go wrong with Greek yogurt mixed in to bring all the creaminess without adding too much fat.
Get our recipe for Mac and Cheese.
If you want to lose weight and drop at least 15 pounds this year, replace every restaurant salad you eat with a homemade version. Start with this one: The warm goat cheese crouton and sweet, crisp pear will make a salad believer out of anyone. It’s basically the goat cheese salad recipe to end all other salads.
Get our recipe for Warm Goat Cheese Salad.
If you’re looking for easy, healthy lunch recipes for weight loss, but you’re tired of lettuce-based salads, this butternut squash pasta salad recipe will be a game-changer. Like other Mason jar salads, this recipe can be made in advance, and it’s packed full of nutritious veggies.
Get our recipe for Butternut Squash Pasta Salad.
Think Mason jars are just for drinks or packing lettuce-based salads? Think again. This sweet potato salad puts a new spin on the term, layering cinnamon-roasted sweet potato pieces with shredded chicken, carrots, and plenty of seasoning. Combined with a serving of wild rice, this is a full meal in a jar.
Get our recipe for Cinnamon-Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Wild Rice.
Craving some Chinese food, but don’t feel like spending the money? Before splurging on some pork fried rice and egg rolls again, why not try making some delicious fried rice at home? This fried rice cups recipe will make perfect portions of fried rice while keeping that calorie count nice and low!
Get our recipe for Perfect Fried Rice Cups.
With 21 grams of protein and four grams of fiber, this salad is as satisfying as it is pretty. And thanks to the layered Mason jar technique, you can make this salad up to three days ahead of time. Just don’t pour the dressing on until you’re ready to eat it—you don’t want to end up with a soggy salad.
Get our recipe for Spinach-Pomegranate Salad With Roasted Turkey.
Not sure how to incorporate quinoa into your day-to-day meals? This recipe is a great place to start. With salsa, black beans, corn, onion, and avocado, along with fresh herbs, this Mexican quinoa is a super-flavorful take on the superfood.
Get our recipe for Mexican Quinoa and Chicken Salad.
Instead of buying the soup, salad, and breadsticks lunch deal over at Olive Garden, you can have an easy (and healthy) version of it right at home. This recipe is delectable with some freshly baked bread (like a sourdough baguette) and a fresh, crispy garden salad with some Italian dressing. It’s one of the easiest healthy lunch recipes to meal prep.
Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Chicken Noodle Soup.
Personal pies are the bane of the pizza experience. Many pizza joints load individual pizzas with more than a day’s worth of fat and sodium. English muffins, though, come with built-in portion control, so no matter how lavishly you adorn them, you won’t break the 400-calorie barrier. To meal prep, simply make these healthy lunch recipes and store them in the fridge. Pop them in the microwave at work to enjoy later!
Get our recipe for Mini Pizzas, Three Ways.
This slow cooker recipe will create a delectable homemade sauce as the Italian meatballs start to cook, and it will only take you 2 to 4 hours to do so.
Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Italian Meatballs.
Because the mini meatloaves will be cooking in a muffin tin, you’ll have enough room to roast some sides to go with your healthy lunch as well. Try roasting carrots or even roasting broccoli with some parmesan in the oven as well.
Get our recipe for Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf Muffins.
Save the calories on those deep-fried chicken fingers and make your own version instead! Our sweet and spicy sauce kicks the taste up a notch, too, so you’ll get a satisfying crunch from the panko bread crumbs, plus a mouthful of flavor.
Get our recipe for Chicken Fingers with Chipotle-Honey.
Skip the boring salad you usually make for lunch and try this flavorful one instead! You won’t ever have to worry about not feeling full after eating this superfood-packed salad.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken Salad with Cranberries, Avocado and Goat Cheese.
Say goodbye to all that cream with our low-calorie version of the soup. Don’t worry—there’s still bacon.
Get our recipe for Clam Chowder.
Here, in this ravioli recipe, you get the depth and nuance of creamy ricotta, smoky mozzarella, and salty, sharp Parmesan, plus a sauce that would make anything taste great for just 510 calories.
Get our recipe for 3-Cheese Ravioli with Cherry Tomatoes.
Looking for something on the spicier side? By using a jalapeño in the recipe, this chicken curry comes with a slight kick, but between the sweetness of the coconut milk and the acidity of the crushed tomatoes, this tomato chicken curry recipe is the perfect dinner dish no matter what season you’re in.
Get our recipe for Tomato Chicken Curry with Cauliflower Rice.
Adding a slice of cheese will certainly help with satiety on a traditional burger, but for those who are paleo, guacamole is a great alternative. Not only is avocado a great appetite suppressant, but it is the perfect food for weight loss. So spoon on some delicious guacamole and fresh salsa on your burger—your stomach will thank you!
Get our recipe for Bacon-Chile Burgers with Guacamole and Fresh Salsa.
Finding keto-friendly healthy lunch recipes can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of foods that still let you get all the flavor you love, all while following the low-carb meal plan. This arugula and grapefruit salad recipe is meant to be a side dish, but you can easily make it a full meal by adding protein and fat.
Get our recipe for Arugula and Grapefruit Salad With Dill Ranch Dressing and Pumpkin Seeds.
If you’re in the mood for a light, refreshing, and low-carb soup, you’ll rejoice at this simple soup recipe that packs a ton of flavor but is completely keto-friendly. This creamy chilled keto soup uses all the flavor components we crave in Mexican food—heat from the serrano chiles and ancho chili powder, aroma of the cumin and cilantro, and the zing of lime juice. And best of all, the craveable taste of avocado.
Get our recipe for Avocado Soup With Chile-Lime Pepitas.
Turn your favorite comfort food dish into a low-carb dinner using your Instant Pot! You’re going to want to add this to your list of healthy lunch ideas, trust us.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese.
Our sandwich is a spicy-sweet combination of teriyaki-glazed chicken, juicy grilled pineapple, and fiery jalapeños—a chicken sandwich to end all fatty chicken sandwiches. Trust us: You won’t miss the fried versions at all once you sink your teeth into this sweet and savory combination.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Sandwich.