Healthy Lunch Ideas

Katie Lester, MS, RD, LDN, CIC

Eating well during the workday with a healthy lunch helps keep you fueled and focused.  Here are a few strategies to help power up your lunch break.  

Plan ahead

A balanced healthy lunch is ideally made up of your favorite fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources.  Not planning ahead can lead to missed meals or choosing more highly processed options.  Packing your lunch does take some additional time and effort, but can help save money and usually leads to better food choices.  

If you prefer to dine out for lunch, try to think ahead about where you’ll be eating.  Look for locations that offer a wide variety of fresh, minimally processed foods.  The more options you have to choose from, the easier it is to create a nourishing meal.

Healthy lunch ideas to bring from home

Some may find packing a lunch stressful, but here are a few ways to make lunch preparation easier.

  • Make extra food at dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • Repurpose leftovers for more variety.  For example, if you made tacos for dinner, try a taco salad for lunch.
  • Make time to do simple meal prep. You could make larger batches of meals you enjoy and divide them up to take to work throughout the week.  Or you can batch cook your favorite grains, vegetables, and proteins – then mix and match to create your own meal-in-a-bowl.  
  • If you’re not a fan of leftovers, try bringing your own sandwiches or wraps that are loaded with veggies.  
  • Mason jar salads are also easy to pack.  They can be made the same day or in advance.  

Too overwhelmed to pack lunch every day?  Start by setting a smaller goal of packing lunch just a few times a week.  Once you are more comfortable with your new routine you may feel motivated to pack more often.  

Healthy snacks

It’s a good idea to have snacks on hand if you tend to get hungry between meals.  Having your own snacks available will help you avoid the convenience foods that are usually found in vending machines or breakrooms.  Focus on options that are considered nutrient-dense to keep you feeling full and satisfied, such as:

  • fresh fruit
  • peanut butter
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • homemade granola
  • edamame
  • veggies with hummus
  • air-popped popcorn
  • roasted chickpeas

Enjoy your lunch! For more tips on healthy eating, visit the Nourishing section of our Lifespan Living health and wellness blog or check out our recipes.

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