Just as they say that only boring people ever get bored, the same can be said for people who find healthy lunches boring. Don’t get me wrong, burritos are great, as are tacos, pizzas, burgers, and stuffed sandwiches. But the concept of these delicious dishes can still be executed with a more healthy lunch in mind
A healthy lunch can be crucial in helping weight loss, more than counting calories and this article will give you seven healthy lunch ideas for weight loss at work, home, or even school!
Lunch tips for weight loss
First of all, laziness will always be the undoing of any individual who is trying to lose weight. Now yes, there are those who despise cooking or food prep in any of its forms, but for anyone serious about eating healthy and losing weight, it’s just something you’re going to have to suck up.
Think about what’s going to go into your dish for each meal. Think about the size, the amount of fat, protein, carbs, fibre. This also stretches to what you drink whilst eating as well (I love A Dr Pepper but it just doesn’t fit in with my meal plan at lunch anymore!).
You should aim for your lunch to be between 400 and 500 calories. This may not sound like much but again, concentrate on what ratio of protein to fat, to carbs, to fibre you’re putting into each meal. Avoid unnecessary or “empty” carbs as much as possible, and opt for a healthy base of protein to build your dish from, with a decent amount of fibre in there too.
Now onto those recipes!
1. Tuna-Tastic: Tuna and Avocado Sandwich
- Calories: 350
- Prep Time: 5 Minutes
- Ingredients: (Per Sandwich) 4oz tuna (drain first), 1/3 of mashed avocado, 1/2Tbsp lemon juice, 1 slice tomato, 1 piece butter lettuce, 1 slice of red onion, 1 slice of whole-grain bread.
Tuna is one of the best lean proteins there is and is as good a starter to a healthy lunch as there is. Throw in a crowd-pleasing vegetable like avocado into the mix, and we have the beginnings of a great lunch already. Combine the avocado with the lemon juice then mix the tuna in with it lightly. Have your lovely slice of bread already garnished and scoop the tuna mix on to the bread. Bite into and savour!
Alternatives: You can make this lunch into more of a meal by making it into a salad. Slice the avocado rather than mashing it with the tuna, and serve on a bed of those lettuce leaves, tomato and onion. If you prefer eating lunch out of your hands, then add the ingredients to a wrap after spreading pesto over the centre.
2.Queen Quinoa: Quinoa and Lentil Tacos
- Calories: 300 (per taco)
- Prep Time: 15-20 Minutes
- Ingredients: 1 sweet potato peeled and chopped, ½ cup dry lentils, ½ cup dry quinoa, 2½ cups vegetable broth, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon cumin. For the Tacos: Shredded lettuce, avocado, sour cream and/or cheese (vegan or non-vegan), salsa or hot sauce, fresh cilantro.
I said earlier tacos are great, and this wonderful recipe combines two of my lesser loved vegetables. This may seem a little higher in calories than some might like, but you can always stuff one more into one taco or skip out on cheese and go for some yummy Greek yoghurt on top instead.
Slow cooking is the preferred method for this dish if you aren’t happy waiting hours to prepare something you’re going to eat for the next day simply reduce the amount of broth you’re using down to a single cup and cook the lentils and quinoa with it on a higher heat in a large pan.
Whilst that simmers, crisp your tacos either in the oven or, be brave and do so over one of your hob rings if you have a gas cooker. After everything’s ready simply add your filling to your tacos and garnish for the next day!
Alternatives: If Quinoa tacos are that little bit extra for you, fall back with either a chicken infused quinoa salad, a more southeast Asia inspired curry-bowl with chilli and coconut, or stuff quinoa into a pepper with other assorted veg and ricotta to bake instead.
3. A Bowl Full Of Soul: Spicy Prawn and Quinoa bowl
- Calories: 300
- Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes
- Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 minced garlic glove, 1 1/4 cup of sliced courgette,
3 ounces prawns, Pinch pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, Pinch salt, 1/2 cup grape tomato halved, 1/2 cup quinoa.
Here is a great variation of the classic Buddha/burrito bowl. Packed with flavour, easy to make and just one of the thousands of possible incarnations! The perfect lunchtime filler.
Sauté the courgette in a pan on medium heat for 2-4 minutes before adding the minced garlic and prawns once the courgette is a lovely golden colour. Sauté the prawns for 2 minutes on each side and add the pepper flakes, salt, grape tomatoes, and oregano. Cook the quinoa separately and add it to the bowl once finished with the prawns and vegetable mixture.
Alternatives: You can switch things up for a Mexican inspired black bean and avocado bowl or, embrace your seafood-loving self and opt for Salmon and brown rice in place of quinoa. Perhaps dabble in a more dessert based lunch and opt for a berry and Greek yoghurt number with crushed walnut, and some juiced lemon and lime for some added zest.
4. License To Grill: Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- Calories: 387
- Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes
- Ingredients: 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, 1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce, 1 slice Swiss cheese, 1 slice pineapple (1/2″ thick), 1 whole-wheat Kaiser Roll, red onion, thinly sliced, pickled jalapeno slices.
A meat and cheese loaded sandwich which is less than 500 calories? Not true you say? Well here it is! Now, the Pineapple may not be for everyone, but it adds a distinctly Hawaiian feel to this mouth-watering sandwich.
Marinate your chicken in the teriyaki mic before grilling four up to five minutes, flip, and top the breast with cheese. Let the cheese melt and the breast firm up a little before removing and set aside to rest.
Place the pineapple slices and rolls on the grill. Toast the rolls lightly and cook the pineapple until it’s soft and caramelized, about two minutes on each side. Top each roll with the chicken, pineapple, onion, and jalapeno, and scoff the next day! Alternatives: I mean where to begin. You can opt for the more common grilled chicken and salad with some zesty lemon juice for added flavour. Turn your sandwich into cheese stuffed Quesadillas or a Panini. Switch out the pineapple for avocado or cucumber if you’re particularly averse to pineapple.
5. One Avocado, Two Avocado, Three Avocado, More! Grilled Avocado and Sweet Potato Burger
- Calories: 414
- Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
- Ingredients: Olive oil 1 tbsp, cannellini beans 130g (1/2 cup) 1/2 of a whole avocado without skin, Panko Bread Crumbs, Sweet potato 200g, white flour 60g, Tahini, ½ teasp, honey mustard, grain bun.
Avocado is awesome, especially in burgers. There are some truly extra people out there who even substitute a bun for two halves of avocado instead! For this burger, the majority of the effort in making it might go into the sweet potato patty, but the avocado is going to fill out most of the bun.
Bake your sweet potato for a few minutes until its softened and peel any skin off. Leave it to cool, before adding it to a mixing bowl and adding in the cannellini beans, olive oil, flour, Tahini, and any other seasoning you want before mixing it in together. Add those bread crumbs in and begin to form your patty.
Once your patty is formed, allow it to rest, before cooking it in a pan and browning off all the sides. Whilst doing this, slice your avocado into neat little slices and grill them until you get a nice char on both sides. Remove the patty from the pan and finish off in the oven for an extra couple of minutes to make sure it cooks all the way through and toast both sides of your bun whilst waiting.
Dress the bun with the patty on the bottom, the grilled avocado on top, and then drizzle some honey-mustard over the top and add any garnish you fancy to top it off!
Alternatives: Avocado will go with just about anything and it also can take centre stage and become the core of any healthy lunch dish. Instead of grilled chicken in your salad, why not opt for grilled avocado? Instead of stuffing peppers why not stuff avocado shells with quinoa or couscous and feta or ricotta? Go wild with your lunchtime burger and swap the sweet potato patty for grilled halloumi to layer with the avocado.
6.Home Sweet Hummus: Hummus Quesadillas
- Calories: 256
- Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
- Ingredients: One 8-inch whole-grain tortilla (or gluten-free tortilla for gluten-free quesadillas), ¼ to ⅓ cup hummus of your choice (something peppery is my recommendation!), a handful of sautéed spinach in olive oil, rinsed oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced Kalamata olives, extra-virgin olive oil for brushing.
Who doesn’t love quesadillas? Whilst it might seem slightly taboo to forego having cheese as the main filling, it tastes absolutely delicious with hummus!
Spread your hummus generously across your tortilla and add your fillings, you don’t have to use the ones in the recipe and it all depends on what kind of hummus you prefer to use. Assemble everything on one half of the tortilla before folding it into a half/crescent moon shape and pressing the sides down. Don’t overstuff it!
Warm a pan or skillet and lightly brush olive oil on the sides of your quesadillas before placing in the pan, with the seal side down first to sear it shut. Gently cook them until golden brown and crispy all over before removing to one side.
Alternatives: Hummus style lunch boxes with sliced cheese, peppers, and celery sticks is an obvious choice. Make humus the centre of a soul bowl and serve it with quinoa and/or chickpeas. Continue the Mexican inspired dishes and fold hummus with some thin slices of salmon and brown rice into a wrap.
7. Sweet Dreams Are Made Like These: Cookie Dough Fat Bombs
- Calories: 70 per Bomb (30 Bombs in total for the recipe)
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Ingredients: 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter softened, 1/3 c confectionary sugar (such as Swerve), 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 2 c almond flour, 2/3 c dark chocolate chips (such as Lily’s).
Feel free to use other brands for this recipe but find similar ones to lead the same results. The key thing to remember with most of these lunch plans is that they leave a noticeable amount of calories leftover before we hit the 500 mark. So how can we fill those gaps in with something a little different?
The answer is something as deliciously decadent as these cookie dough fat bombs. To make them, use a hand mixer and beat butter until light and fluffy in a large bowl. Add sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until all are combined.
Next, slowly beat in almond flour until no dry spots remain, and then fold in the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a refrigerator to firm slightly for 15 to 20 minutes.
Finally, using a small scoop, scoop the dough into small balls on a plate. Store them in the fridge where they will keep for up to one month, and make sure you can take a handful with you to work each day of the week!
Alternatives: I mean the possibilities for low-calorie sweet treats and mini-desserts are endless! As long as you are using suitable low-fat, low-carb ingredients then you can make almost anything from brownies to mini pavlova! Everyone knows and loves chocolate-dipped strawberries, but how about trying it with oranges instead? Even though fruit would work with nachos? Try melted caramel on top of freshly sliced apples, and you are on to the maddest, but most delicious of Mexican inspired sweet snacks.