What are Some Healthy Lunch Ideas?

J. Beam

Eating healthy is an increasingly popular goal and while eating healthy at all meals is important to an overall balanced diet, lunch is a meal that is sometimes difficult to prepare for and often skipped. The busier a person is at work or at home, the harder it can be to fit a healthy lunch into their schedule. Packing lunches for work or for school is sometimes done with less attention than other meal planning and it’s often easier to grab lunch on the go, even if it ends up being a less than healthy choice. To round out healthy eating habits, plan or pack a healthy lunch ahead of time and consider these healthy lunch ideas.

A bowl of yogurt.
A bowl of yogurt.

Packing a lunch for work or school depends largely on available storage and preparation options. While workers may enjoy the convenience of a refrigerator and microwave at their office, school children do not have this luxury. Since many kids are picky eaters and won’t always eat the lunches prepared in their school cafeteria, parents need to help their kids meet daily dietary guidelines by providing healthy foods.

Apples can be a healthy addition to a lunch.
Apples can be a healthy addition to a lunch.

Some healthy lunch ideas for packers include fresh fruits or vegetables that do not spoil at room temperature. Whole apples, bananas, carrot and celery sticks are good choices. Peanut butter on whole or multi-grain bread or spread onto celery will satisfy protein requirements but won’t spoil without refrigeration like deli meats. Prepackaged cereal or granola bars make healthy dessert options. To wash it all down, pack water or low-calorie fruit juices or encourage your children to buy milk at school.

Granola bars make for a healthy lunch idea.
Granola bars make for a healthy lunch idea.

For packers who have access to refrigerators and microwaves, healthy lunch ideas become much more versatile, but still need to be quick. Yogurt and cottage cheese are good choices for dairy intake and require no preparation. A salad prepared ahead of time with chopped vegetables and even cooked chicken or eggs is another healthy lunch idea that is quick to eat. If you prefer a hot lunch, try low-calorie, ready to microwave soups. Those who are also concerned about calorie intake can drink water with their lunch to increase their feeling of fullness without adding calories.

Salads can be a healthy lunch idea.
Salads can be a healthy lunch idea.

If you are able to be home at lunch, you can prepare any of these healthy lunch ideas as well as a few others. Deli meats and cheeses served on multi-grain crackers with a side of pretzels, rather than chips, make a healthy lunch choice, as well as steamed vegetables and whole grain rice or pasta.

Drinking water at lunch can help a person feel full without adding calories.
Drinking water at lunch can help a person feel full without adding calories.

Even though lunch needs to be quick most days, skipping lunch or stopping at the nearest drive-through or convenience store is not a healthy option. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be sacrificed because of time constraints if you plan ahead and use the same healthy judgments you apply to other meals. Besides being better for your health, there are other advantages to planning and implementing healthy lunch ideas including having more energy throughout the day and saving money over eating out.

Pretzels provide grains without the fat.
Pretzels provide grains without the fat.
Healthy lunch ideas may include bananas.
Healthy lunch ideas may include bananas.
Low-fat chicken may be used to make low calorie chicken soup.
Low-fat chicken may be used to make low calorie chicken soup.
Graham crackers are a popular and low fat snack idea.
Graham crackers are a popular and low fat snack idea.
Drinking milk instead of soda is a healthy lunch option.
Drinking milk instead of soda is a healthy lunch option.
Keep your refrigerator stocked with oranges and other healthy fruits.
Keep your refrigerator stocked with oranges and other healthy fruits.
Celery sticks can be a great addition to a healthy lunch because they are low in calories and high in several nutrients.
Celery sticks can be a great addition to a healthy lunch because they are low in calories and high in several nutrients.
A deli meat sandwich is a good idea for a healthy lunch.
A deli meat sandwich is a good idea for a healthy lunch.
Including whole bananas in your lunch is a way to eat healthfully.
Including whole bananas in your lunch is a way to eat healthfully.
Fruit salads are a healthy dish that is great anytime of the day.
Fruit salads are a healthy dish that is great anytime of the day.
Soups are always a good healthy option.
Soups are always a good healthy option.
Cottage cheese and boiled eggs are healthy lunch options.
Cottage cheese and boiled eggs are healthy lunch options.
Some large delis sell healthy appetizers in addition to salads.
Some large delis sell healthy appetizers in addition to salads.

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Discussion Comments

Sunny27

Icecream17- A sample healthy lunch idea involves a turkey and cheese sandwich on a whole grain bun.

Sometimes I'll go to Subway and order a Subway club on the honey oat bread which has a lot of fiber.

I will usually include tomatoes, lettuce, green peppers, and onions to round out my sandwich.

I'll also get a bag of Baked Lays and a Diet Coke. Usually this sandwich only has about 300 calories for a six inch sandwich. Subway really has a lot of healthy lunch menu ideas.

Another healthy lunch idea for work can include a soup and a sandwich. A clear broth soup with vegetables is an ideal choice with a sandwich. You will want to avoid the cream based soups which have a lot of calories and added fat. This is a cheap healthy lunch idea that tastes good.

icecream17

Latte31-A simple healthy lunch idea includes chili and a baked potato. Adding chili to a baked potato increases the protein and fiber without adding a lot of calories.

This is a healthy satisfying lunch that will also stabilize your blood sugar because of the beans in the chili. This means that you won't have additional cravings for sweets.

Another quick healthy lunch idea for work includes a Lean Cuisine or Weight Watchers TV dinner and a side salad. This would give you additional vegetables which are what is lacking in most healthy diets.

latte31

Healthy kids lunch ideas should include peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter is a wholesome protein that also has vitamin E.

It is filling and very nutritious and goes well with jelly. It also satisfies children's natural sweet tooth.

I usually buy the Smucker’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that are prepackaged.It is an easy healthy lunch idea. I also include Hershey's chocolate milk but in the prepackaged boxes that does not need refrigeration until opened.

In addition, I like to include fruits like grapes or bananas along with some carrots to balance out the meal.

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