8 Super Healthy (and Tasty) Lunch Ideas to Make This Week
Avoid the sad desk salad or buying overly processed lunch with our food experts' favorite healthy lunch that are also tasty.
Super healthy lunch ideas
It’s a dilemma most people go through during the work week: Pack something healthy or be at the mercy of the local deli or restaurant. If you decide to pack your own lunch, you’ll have to meal prep ahead of time. But, if you opt to buy lunch, you’ll spend more money and possibly end up with a sad desk salad. The cheaper and healthier option is to prepare lunch at home, but the challenge is how to make it both healthy and tasty.
To get started, we asked our food experts to share some of their favorite healthy (and tasty) lunch options to help you out.
Veggie-based meals are a great way to stay healthy and this eggplant-based stew is a health star. “Ratatouille is a savory, filling, and nutritious comfort food that can be cooked up fast in a slow cooker for a week’s worth of healthy lunch,” says Megan Casper, RDN, a nutrition expert and writer for Nourished Bite. She says the benefits of the dish include high water volume (to fill you up), loads of fiber, and that it’s low-calorie. “Serve on its own or over a half cup of quinoa or whole wheat pasta,” suggests Casper.
Vegan quinoa cakes
Packed with protein to keep hunger at bay, this healthy lunch recipe also has the benefit of being quick to put together, says Natalia Levey, a healthy lifestyle expert and founder of Healthy Intent. Made with cooked quinoa, garbanzo beans, and seasonings, try the cakes served with a simple arugula salad, dressed with olive oil and lemon for a healthy crunch. Alternatively, serve as vegan burgers with a lettuce “bun,” and garlic “aioli.”
Cedar plank grilled salmon
A great healthy lunch option for the forever fit, cedar plank grilled salmon only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to prepare. “Grilling salmon on the cedar plank gives it a smoky taste with minimal effort,” explains Josh Tomson, executive chef at the Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, Pennsylvania, who says this is a favorite lunch option of the mostly female clientele at the resort and spa in the Poconos. “Cedar planked grilled salmon is a perfect choice as it is loaded with nutrients for the entire body. It is great for heart health, brain health, bones and joints, and even eyesight.” (Note: Cedar planks or sheets are easy to find on Amazon or at gourmet food stores and they add a level of flavor that is hard to beat.)
Spicy summer bean and chickpea salad
Mary Kasprzak, a food blogger at Blossom to Stem, says her go-to healthy lunch is this spicy summer bean and chickpea salad. “It takes about 15 minutes to make and it’s loaded with flavor from the garlic and cumin and coriander and has a kicky heat from cayenne pepper,” she says. The chickpeas give this salad heft and provide protein, insoluble fiber (which is great for digestive tract health), and vitamins and minerals including manganese, folate, and iron. “The green and yellow beans make this salad a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach and provide a source of vitamin K and vitamin C,” she says. If you start with canned chickpeas the work couldn’t be easier: Just open and rinse. “The salad holds up well if you make it in the morning or the night before and bring it to the office for lunch,” Kasprzak says.
Tofu “egg” salad
A no-cholesterol and vegan swap from traditional egg salad, this tofu “egg” salad that’s high protein is a go-to favorite of Carol Meerschaert, RD, a registered dietician and marketing executive with Surrey Services for Seniors in Devon, Pennsylvania. It’s easy to make ahead and grab and go, says Meerschaert, who says she enjoy it served on a bed of leaf lettuce or as a dip with celery stalks. “I love this because I can make it days ahead and serve it several ways. I vary the flavor widely by using fresh fennel instead of celery, or even add cubed beets for a red salad.”
This is the go-to healthy lunch of Talia Koren, founder of Workweek Lunch, a food blog dedicated to cooking lunches for the work week. “I love this Buddah bowl because it is vegan, lasts four days in the fridge, and is very easy to prep. It also doesn’t stink up the office if you heat it up in the microwave,” she says “Chickpeas are an amazing source of plant-based protein and when combined with fibrous veggies and a complex carb, it keeps me fuller for longer so I don’t go for snacks later in the day.” Koren seasons the chickpeas with cumin, cayenne, paprika, and oregano before quickly sauteing them in coconut oil. “Chickpeas are versatile enough to change up the flavor if you get bored with them. I roast the sweet potato and zucchini in the oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil. I also add cinnamon and cayenne to the sweet potatoes. I use raw spinach or kale because it will wilt slightly when put together with the hot chickpeas and veggies. Plus it’s one less thing to cook! If you don’t like zucchini, you can easily swap it out for broccoli, asparagus, or any of your favorite greens,” Koren says.
Quiche is a perfect quick, healthy, and filling lunch, says Laura Lea Goldberg, certified holistic chef and editor of Laura Lea Balanced. “It’s ridiculously forgiving and versatile and it tastes fabulous chilled, room temperature, or warm. Recently, I’ve been enjoying slices of my broccoli, mushroom, and cheddar quiche with a sweet potato crust for a wholesome lunch,” Goldberg shares. “Broccoli provides fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc (among others), and I love mushrooms for their hearty, meaty texture plus, they have a rainbow of health benefits as well.”
Smokey BBQ beetroot and spinach salad
Packed with protein, fiber, and skin-glowing antioxidants, this healthy salad is super quick to prepare, says Kara Landau, a New York City-based dietitian and food blogger at Traveling Dietitian. “I include spinach leaves, ready-made smokey BBQ beetroot strips, diced cucumber, diced red onion, a small amount of leftover salmon from the night before, and some hemp seeds scattered on top. The dressing is simply made from fresh lemon juice, spray EVOO, sea salt, and cracked pepper,” she says. By using the beetroot that is already infused with flavor, Landau says it yields a huge amount of zest to the dish, without loads of condiments or calorie-filled additions. “I also am able to portion control the added oils quite clearly by using the spray EVOO rather than pouring from a bottle,” she says.
- Megan Casper, MS, RDN, a nutrition expert and writer for Nourished Bite
- Natalia Levey, a healthy lifestyle expert and founder of Healthy Intent
- Josh Tomson, executive chef at the Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, Pennsylvania
- Mary Kasprzak, a food blogger at Blossom to Stem
- Carol Meerschaert, MBA, RD, a registered dietician and marketing executive with Surrey Services for Seniors in Devon, Pennsylvania
- Talia Koren, founder of Workweek Lunch
- Laura Lea Goldberg, certified holistic chef and editor of Laura Lea Balanced
- Lara Landau, a New York City-based dietitian and food blogger at Traveling Dietitian