11 nutritious, low-fat lunch ideas recommended by registered dietitians (Smart, Busy)

BBreakfast is considered by everyone to be the most important meal of the day. And while I don’t want to cut out an ongoing breakfast during a fast (eating early in the day is definitely important!), mid-day meals are also necessary to keep us going until breakfast. dark.

However, for many people, lunch can be a struggle. Whether you’re working from home and find yourself snacking all day without a full meal, or you simply don’t take the time to cook or prepare lunch, this mid-day pick-me-up needs gets more attention than we give it. After all, many of us who feel sluggish in the afternoon can regain energy simply by eating a balanced lunch.

Experts in this article

  • Amy Beney, RDfirstNutritionist
  • Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, registered dietitian and founder of Street Smart Nutrition
  • Chelsea LeBlanc, RDNfirstRegistered dietitian
  • Eden Davis, RDN, registered dietitian and co-owner of Pearl Wellness
  • Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, registered dietitian and prenatal and postpartum health specialist

Skipping lunch is associated with reduced intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, seafood and plant proteins, which over time can negatively affect health. Plus, people often consume more calories after dinner when they skip breakfast and/or lunch as their bodies catch up.

Although our culture often considers dinner the largest meal of the day, some studies have shown that consuming a more energy-dense lunch can lead to positive changes in weight loss. weight and fasting insulin levels.

Time seems to be the name of the game when it comes to work lunches, so say goodbye to hours of meal prep on Sunday for these nutrient-dense lunch ideas (all expertly prepared). approved registered dietitian) may be available below. 15 minutes.

Nutritious lunch ideas trusted by RD

Cereal salad

This one is easy to customize based on your preferences or what’s in your pantry. Cook your favorite grains (such as quinoa, brown rice or farro), then add protein and vegetables. To save time, use microwave grain options, like Seeds of Change, and a bag of frozen vegetables. Registered dietitian Eden Davis, RDN, recommends a quick meal of brown rice, salmon, edamame, and teriyaki sauce. In five minutes, I can cut the salmon into quarter-sized pieces, mix it with my favorite teriyaki sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and put it in the air fryer for five minutes before tossing it with frozen edamame beans. above to create a nutritious and delicious dish. Great energy booster.

Roasted chicken salad

If you don’t have the time or patience to cook chicken, choose a juicy rotisserie chicken that you can cook with almost anything. Mix with mayo or Greek yogurt and some seasonings and spread on sandwiches or wraps.

Rice and tuna bowl (chamchi doebbap)

This Korean-inspired dish uses reheated white rice with canned or bagged tuna stacked on top of each other. Vegetables such as matchstick carrots, kimchi, pickled onions or radishes are added on top. This lunch satisfies my herb cravings, and a little kewpie mayo and gochujang create a delicious sauce without much effort, says registered dietitian Cara Harbstreet, RD. In the time it takes to microwave the rice and drain the can of tuna, you can have a satisfying lunch on the table. Deobbap meaning over rice so any protein can be swapped for tuna, including salmon, leftover rotisserie or grilled chicken, eggs, tofu or shelled edamame beans.

Stuffed avocado or sweet potato

Take half an avocado (or a cooked sweet potato), add canned tuna or salmon, and season to your liking. You can also stuff it with cooked beans, roasted chicken or lentils, and top it with cheese, herbs, nuts or seeds. Serve over a salad or with your favorite vegetables or crackers.


Perhaps the most popular lunch staple, sandwiches can be a great mid-day meal. However, I challenge you to change up your signature sandwich. Choose some veggies on your egg and cheese sammy, use spicy cheese with chili in a grilled cheese chicken sandwich, or crack some chickpeas on top of the avocado spread on your sandwich for an extra boost. fiber. You can also swap out the bread for wraps, naan bread or English muffins, or try a new bread like sourdough, focaccia or potato bread.

Fajita 5 minutes

Dietitian Chelsea LeBlanc, RDN, is a fan of quick fajitas for lunch. Grab some tortillas, frozen fajita greens, a can of rinsed black beans, and low-sodium taco seasoning, she says. Stir-fry the fajita vegetables with a little olive oil. Add black beans and taco seasoning to the pan to reheat. Add this fiber-rich mixture to tortillas and top with your favorite additions like salsa, guac, and cheese. This filling, affordable lunch is ready in minutes.

Cheese bowl

While cottage cheese may be trendy right now, it’s definitely an easy, accessible, protein-rich lunch option that can satisfy your sweet or savory taste buds. Along with protein, fresh cheese also provides calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B12 to help build bones.

My favorite savory option is the Greek cottage cheese bowl, says Amy Beney, RD. On top of a bowl of cottage cheese, I’ll add a mix of available vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, kalamata olives, cucumbers, and spices like Greek, salt, and pepper, to make a Super fast, nutritious dish. lunch for working people.

Lauren Manaker, RD, is also a fan of the quick and versatile cottage cheese dish. She said, I’ll take a cup of cottage cheese and add anything from the fridge or pumpkin seeds, raisins, roasted green beans, whatever. This dish also helps avoid food waste because it encourages the use of items that can be thrown away if they are near their expiration date.

FYI, Greek yogurt is a great alternative to cottage cheese and also adds probiotics.

Burger quesadillas

Swap fast food burgers or delivery burgers for sweet potato turkey burgers. Mashed sweet potatoes add antioxidants and fiber as well as vitamins A and C. Microwave the sweet potatoes for 57 minutes, then scoop out the flesh and mix it with the ground turkey or chicken and cook for about 5 minutes each. face. .


This fall favorite chili can be customized any way you want. Add some canned beans, onions, peppers, broth and crushed tomatoes to a pan or instant pot and cook until well combined. Choose additional add-ins, like beef, chicken, pumpkin or sweet potato. Sprinkle some crackers on top for a delicious crunch.

Have a light lunch

Take the girls’ dinner Tiktok trend and apply it to lunch. The key is to make it filling and cover all the macronutrients like protein, fat and carbohydrates. Mix and match with some of your favorite convenient protein options, such as ham, grilled green beans or hard-boiled eggs. Combine them with some crackers, whole-grain bread, fruit or vegetables, and add some flavorful fats, like olives, olive oil, cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts or seeds .

Pasta salad

Pasta salad stands out as a picnic dish, but it can also be a great lunch option. With a variety of pasta options available (from high-protein to plant-based to gluten-free), pair your favorite cooked pasta with any additions on chicken, beans, tofu or Seafood are all great options. This hummus pasta salad is great inspiration. To save time, you can also use a quick-cook, microwaveable pasta option, such as Barilla Ready Pasta.

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