We’ve all probably heard that breakfast is the “most important” meal of the day but sometimes when you’re trying to lose weight, lunch can be one of the hardest. Who knows what you’ll be doing or where you’ll be when the lunch hour hits?! With the hustle and bustle that we experience on a daily basis, about 44% of afternoon meals are purchased on the run making lunch the most common fast food meal. To be honest, we’re not surprised and you’re probably not either. Here are some healthy lunch ideas for weight loss that could save you some major calories.
Sometimes getting started and knowing what to eat for lunch is one of the hardest steps in figuring out your weight loss lunch meal plan. This might take some trial and correction to figure out what works for you and your schedule, and that’s okay! Let’s review some helpful things to look for when planning your weight loss lunches.
What to eat for lunch: 3 basic guidelines
First, fill up on fruits and vegetables. Including whole foods in these areas can help cut down on processed items that get tossed into lunch boxes often. Because lunches can feel rushed sometimes, working in recipes with crunchy, raw items can provide some differing texture and flavor as well as something quick that doesn’t take a lot of prep. These easy to grab green vegetables could be broccoli, some spinach or kale, celery sticks, peppers, and so on. Adding in some fruit can also lend a hand to your sweet tooth but provide a healthy and satisfying option.
Second, pick out your protein and fats. Protein and fats help when it comes to keeping up feeling full and fueled as we go about the rest of our day. Look for recipes with lean protein options or even vegetarian based items if that’s something that interests you. This could be chicken, chickpeas, tofu, or even a greek yogurt cup! If you’re really crunched for time in the afternoon, you might incorporate a protein shake. Check out these options! 7 Best Meal Replacements of 2019. Fats come in many different options. The name of the game here will be to choose the best option for your weight loss journey and health. These healthy fats, like olive oil, can make flavorful and satisfying dips and dressings. You might also use items like nuts or avocados.
Third, choose your whole grain or complex starch. The keyword is complex. Simple starches and carbohydrates tend to be processed and high in sugars that can lead to hitting the afternoon wall. While we might still enjoy a pick-me-up, we want to watch our portions and enjoy these items in a balanced way. Choosing a whole grain for your lunch incorporates fiber to help you feel satisfied longer and help you avoid a dragging, lagging afternoon. When it comes to weight loss and meal planning, this might be a whole grain bread, quinoa, brown rice, or beans.
Now that we’ve gone over what to include in your healthy weight loss lunch, let’s talk about how to pack a lunch and meal plan. You know what to look for in these recipes, but how do you actually go about packing a lunch?
How to pack a healthy lunch
First, creating a grocery store and meal prep routine that works with your schedule can be helpful. This might be putting your lunch together the night before, or making all of your lunches in one swoop in a weekend afternoon. There’s no wrong way to go about it because everyone’s journey to lose weight is different. The key here though, is making sure you have the fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods you love on hand. The more convenient these are to grab, the more often you might find yourself consuming them. This prep could even include some dinner leftovers for extra ease!
Second, think outside of the (lunch) box. Sometimes the same old sandwich can get boring. You pack a lunch, you’re not excited about it, you go pick up something else. We know the drill. Your lunch has no limits and losing weight doesn’t mean you have to be unsatisfied! Seriously. Try new recipes and start to find some new go-to’s. Think about what you might want to make and get containers that can be easily transported to and fro to help you enjoy something new. Speaking of recipes…
Healthy lunch recipes for weight loss
We’ve talked about what to look for and touched on how to do it, so let’s put it all together in some weight loss lunch recipes! These recipes range in calories and macronutrient (carbs, fats, and protein) breakdown as well as prep time. All are sure to satisfy you throughout the day and help you work towards losing weight with healthy eating habits.
Hummus and Greek Salad – Ready in 10 minutes, and 422 calories. This salad will add some Mediterranean flare to your day with fresh flavor.
Chopped Cobb Salad with Chicken – Can be ready in 5 minutes! This salad contains a nutritious 410 calories and 35 grams of protein.
Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad with Walnuts – If you’re wanting to change up your meatless Monday, this recipe could be for you. Ready in 15 minutes, this option is full of healthy fats and 226 calories.
Tex-Mex Pasta Salad – a less conventional salad option ready in a quick 15 minutes. This recipe contains greek yogurt and seasoned goodness. With 403 calories and 24 grams of proteins it could satisfy any afternoon.
Grilled Zucchini and Hummus Wrap – A different take on zucchini and the wrap concept. A great recipe to change up your normal veggie routine with 332 satisfying calories.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps — Ready in 25 minutes this easy lunch recipe might give you a taste of restaurant style cooking without spending the calories and money. These wraps are 205 calories per serving with 21 grams of protein.
Turkey Avocado Spring Rolls – A delicious lunch prepped and ready in 20 minutes. This light recipe comes in so many different options! This one is easy to play with and make your own.
Slow Cooker Balsamic Honey Chicken Vegetable Wrap – Slow cookers can help make meal prep magic and this recipe is sure to be a favorite. After the slow cooker has done its job you can have wraps made for the week in no time. These wraps boast 326 calories per serving and only 10 grams of fat.
Chicken Chipotle Burrito Bowl – Ready in 30 minutes, this bowl is a filling 452 calories to help power you through your afternoon.
Vegan Turmeric Quinoa Bowl – 30 minutes to prep and make, this recipe could be easily batch made for a week of healthy lunches. With 352 calories per serving it would be a great meatless option for any day of the week.
Ultimate Winter Bliss Bowl – Another recipe with quick prep! In just 15 minutes of prep and 1 hour cook time, you can eat bliss for lunch. With 282 calories, this bowl packs a punch of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It might say it’s a winter bowl but we think it’d be tasty anytime of year.
Southern BBQ Bowl – A little bit longer of a recipe to put together, but one that’s sure to be worth it. Add this into your Sunday meal prep mix! At 372 calories and only 16 grams of fat, this is sure to become a new lunch favorite.
These 12 recipes only scratch the surface of what’s out there to help you avoid the lunch time drive-thru line. Curious about diving deeper into meal pre and recipes for losing weight? Check out these 9 Easy Meal Prep Recipes for Weight Loss!