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.
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.
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.
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.
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.