Lunch — for many of us, it’s the biggest highlight of the work day! But, when it comes to eating for weight loss, lunch can also be the trickiest meal. After all, while you can typically prepare your breakfast and dinner at home, lunch requires some planning ahead. If you haven’t had the foresight to pop a healthy lunch in your bag before heading to work, it’s far too tempting to just grab an easy sandwich or curry from the nearest food court.
While there’s nothing wrong with dining out for lunch every now and again, takeaway meals tend to be chock-a-block with calories. Plus, buying your lunch out every day can easily add up to hundreds of dollars over the course of a week. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, feel healthier and save money, homemade lunches are the way to go.
The good news is, that doesn’t have to mean bringing in the same old vegemite-and-cheese sambo every day. Below, we’ve shared 100 healthy, delicious lunch ideas to make sure you never get bored.
Ready to make a lasting change?
A healthier you, wherever you are.
What makes a lunch good for weight loss?
When it comes to eating for weight loss, not all lunches are created equal. The best lunches should help you feel full, while still keeping you in a calorie deficit. Just as importantly, the food should actually taste good.
Because let’s be honest, while munching on carrot and celery sticks every day might help you lose weight, it’s not something most of us want to do long term (unless it’s paired with some delicious dip) Losing weight can take time — around half a kilo to a kilo per week is a safe and sustainable rate. So, in order to make sure you can stay on track, it’s important to choose satisfying and delicious lunches with low-caloric density.
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, capsicum, 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 yoghurt.
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 fibre to help you feel satisfied longer and help prevent an afternoon slump.
Some good options are wholemeal 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 favourite takeaway 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 flavours 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 rocket 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 prawns 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 favourite 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 savoury 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 yoghurt 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 prawn 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)
Ready to make a lasting change?
A healthier you, wherever you are.
Warm lunch ideas for weight loss
Sometimes, a cold lunch just won’t do—especially on chilly winter days. Enjoy a warm, comforting meal while staying within a target calorie range with these recipes.
With its high water content and low-caloric density, soup is one of our favourite warm lunch ideas for weight loss.
45. Rotisserie chicken noodle soup from Craving California (347 calories)
46. Healthy leek and potato soup from Served from Scratch (196 calories)
47. Lentil vegetable soup from HurryTheFoodUp (438 calories)
48. Vegetarian tortilla soup from Simply Recipes (310 calories)
49. White chicken chili from Downshiftology (420 calories)
50. Healthy slow cooker lentil and vegetable soup from Sweet Phi (96 calories)
51. Chicken pozole verde from Lemon Blossoms (285 calories)
52. Lemony chicken, spinach, and orzo soup from Noom (350 calories)
Or trade in your spoon for a fork and dive into one of these flavorful dishes.
53. Chinese chicken and broccoli from I Heart Umami (209 calories)
54. Chicken Jalfrezi from Tea for Turmeric (435 calories)
55. Simple palak paneer from Tasting Table (289 calories)
56. Noodle-free chicken pad thai from The Real Food Dietitians (345 calories)
57. Korean ground beef bowls from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen (427 calories)
58. Teriyaki meatballs from Ahead of Thyme (66 calories per meatball)
Pasta lunch ideas for weight loss
No foods are inherently bad—not even carbs. In fact, plenty of delicious pasta lunch recipes fit into a healthy diet.
59. Pesto pasta with peas from Girl Gone Gourmet (395 calories)
60. Red Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo from Eat This, Not That! (390 calories)
61. 20-minute vegan spinach and sun-dried tomato pasta from Make It Dairy Free (471 calories)
62. Spinach bacon pumpkin mac and cheese from Ambitious Kitchen (489 calories)
63. Lentil pasta with tempeh and spinach from Melissa Traub (325 calories)
64. Yummy lemon zucchini pasta sauce with feta from Spice and Life (426 calories)
65. Tortellini primavera from Girl Gone Gourmet (379 calories)
66. Pasta with pesto sauce from Sunglow Kitchen (450 calories)
67. Gluten-free hidden veggie mac and cheese from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen (467 calories)
Prefer your pasta chilled? We’ve got you covered with these pasta salad recipes.
68. Puttanesca pasta salad from Mrs. Jones’ Kitchen (208 calories)
69. Tex-Mex pasta salad from EatingWell (403 calories)
70. Street corn pasta salad with cilantro pesto and goat cheese from Ambitious Kitchen (343 calories)
71. Tahini pasta from A Sweet Alternative (315 calories)
Vegetarian lunch ideas for weight loss
Just because a meal is vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s inherently healthy. These vegetarian lunch ideas are packed with nutritious whole foods to help you reach your weight loss goals.
72. Vegetarian pesto gnocchi with green beans and tomatoes from Eat This (490 calories)
73. 10-minute peanut noodles from Served from Scratch (487 calories)
74. Couscous and pear salad with goat cheese from HurryTheFoodUp (438 calories)
75. Falafel tabbouleh bowls with tzatziki from EatingWell (416 calories)
76. 30-minute aloo palak from Tea for Turmeric (330 calories)
77. Quinoa kale salad with blueberries and feta from The Real Food Dietitians (176 calories)
78. Vegetarian bibimbap bowl with bibimbap sauce from I Heart Umami (229 calories)
79. Fig and halloumi salad with balsamic fig dressing from Easy Cheesy Vegetarian (389 calories)
80. Sweet potato taco bowl from Chelsea’s Messy Apron (433 calories)
81. Grilled fattoush salad with eggplant from Simply Delicious (171 calories)
82. Easy rajma masala from My Food Story (195 calories)
83. Kale and apple salad from Food Network (151 calories)
84. Kimchi burritos from Feasting At Home (350 calories)
85. Spinach salad with goat cheese and walnuts from Food Network (226 calories)
Vegan lunch ideas for weight loss
As veganism has become more popular, so has the number and variety of healthy and hearty vegan recipes. Here are a few of our favourites.
86. Smoked tofu and hummus Buddha bowl from HurryTheFoodUp (399 calories)
87. Vegan turmeric quinoa power bowls from Jar of Lemons (385 calories)
88. The ultimate winter bliss bowls from Pinch of Yum (285 calories)
89. Tofu burrito bowl meal prep from The Fitchen (210 calories)
90. Lemon-roasted vegetable hummus bowls from EatingWell (360 calories)
91. Southwest black bean quinoa salad from Feasting At Home (454 calories)
92. Israeli couscous cucumber salad from Served from Scratch (181 calories)
93. Vegan soba noodle salad from Ahead of Thyme (296 calories)
94. Vegan sweet and sour tofu from A Sweet Alternative (129 calories)
95. Spicy roasted tomato white bean stew from Sunglow Kitchen (354 calories)
96. Venezuelan arepas from Healthier Steps (110 calories)
97. Amazing vegan black bean soup from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen (368 calories)
98. Healthy vegan collard green wraps from Feasting At Home (220 calories)
99. Lemon dill hummus without garlic from Sunglow Kitchen (156 calories)
When you need more than just lunch ideas
While healthy lunches can make a big difference for your weight loss goals, you may need more.
At Noom, our goal is to help you reach your weight loss goals while eating the foods you enjoy. No foods are off limits, ever.
Our recipe database has something for everyone—whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or follow any other dietary restrictions. And with our colour-coded food logger, Noom makes it easy to identify nutritious and low-caloric density foods to keep you feeling satisfied and motivated.
Want to see what it’s all about? Start your free trial of Noom today.