What Are the Best Ideas for Low Calorie Lunches?

Sheri Cyprus

The best ideas for low calorie lunches involve healthy, filling foods that are light on fat and calories yet heavy in terms of their nutritional impact on the body. Ideally, the four food groups of protein, grain, produce and dairy should be present in a low calorie lunch to provide maximum nutrition. Oftentimes, foods leftover from dinners can be used to create low calorie lunches. Low calorie, commercially prepared foods may also be used sometimes, but more natural, unprocessed foods tend to be healthier and have less added sugar and salt.

A low-calorie lunch can include a slice of wheat bread.
A low-calorie lunch can include a slice of wheat bread.

Leftover, cooked vegetables such as those that accompanied meat, fish or poultry at a previous dinner are usually very easy to incorporate into a low calorie lunch. They could be used in a soup along with leftover cooked and trimmed lean beef or chicken to make a hearty lunchtime meal. A slice of whole wheat bread, a glass of skim milk and a piece of fresh fruit could be eaten with the soup to create a nutritious low calorie lunch. Leftover cooked vegetables and meat, fish or poultry can be used together to create many different low calorie lunches.

Yogurt can be a good low calorie source of dairy in a lunch.
Yogurt can be a good low calorie source of dairy in a lunch.

For example, cooked chicken slices and mixed vegetables can be layered in a tortilla and topped with some salsa, shredded lettuce or spinach and a sprinkling of reduced fat cheese before being folded into a burrito. Since all of the food groups are represented in the wrap, a low calorie commercial treat such as fat-free pudding could be added as a dessert for the meal. These burritos may be packed into a lunch box that has a cold pack in it to keep the meat and cheese at a cold enough temperature not to spoil.

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Fat-free salsas can add heat and depth to dishes with very few calories.
Fat-free salsas can add heat and depth to dishes with very few calories.

Leftover cooked roast beef or chicken can also be mixed with salad greens and orange segments to make a refreshing low calorie lunch. Low calorie salad dressing, as well as whole grain crackers, may be served on the side. Since this type of low calorie lunch has no dairy source included, either a glass of skim milk or a container of non-fat yogurt could be added.

A hard-boiled egg is a good low-calorie lunch.
A hard-boiled egg is a good low-calorie lunch.

Thick, Greek-style, non-fat plain yogurt can make a good mayonnaise substitute to turn canned, or cooked leftover, fish into a low calorie, nutritious sandwich filling. It should be eaten immediately after being spread onto bread though or the sandwich may become too soggy to be appealing. The yogurt may also be added to chopped hard boiled eggs for another type of low calorie sandwich filling. Canned fruit that is water packed or in its own juice, rather than in a sugary syrup, can make a tasty dessert to accompany low calorie lunches.

Bagging your own lunch at home instead of eating out is a great way to both save money and calories.
Bagging your own lunch at home instead of eating out is a great way to both save money and calories.
Low-fat chicken may be used to make low calorie chicken soup.
Low-fat chicken may be used to make low calorie chicken soup.
If made with low calorie ingredients, burritos can be a tasty, low-cal lunch.
If made with low calorie ingredients, burritos can be a tasty, low-cal lunch.
Strawberries are a low-calorie fruit.
Strawberries are a low-calorie fruit.
Bottled water may be part of a low calorie lunch.
Bottled water may be part of a low calorie lunch.
Sandwiches made with lean meat and plenty of vegetables are a filling, healthy lunch option.
Sandwiches made with lean meat and plenty of vegetables are a filling, healthy lunch option.
Vegetables with a piece of chicken can be a low-calorie, but filling, lunch.
Vegetables with a piece of chicken can be a low-calorie, but filling, lunch.

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