70 Healthy, Tasty Lunch Ideas That'll Power You Through Any Afternoon

Including 20+ fresh new ways to enjoy salad, and expert tips for turning leftovers into an entirely new meal.

healthy lunch ideas  65 healthy lunch recipes
Mike Garten

A healthy lunch doesn't need to be a salad, as inspiration can definitely revolutionize any bowl of lettuce, sandwiches, grain bowls or pasta mixes you may already love. These crazy delicious soup, sandwich and pasta recipes are proof that health-friendly lunches are much more than just a bed of greens. Not only are these lunches effortless, they're also super quick — you can throw them together in a few spare minutes in the morning, or set aside a little bit of meal prep time the night before. Many of our favorite healthy lunch ideas are make-ahead friendly or reinvent leftovers you may have in the fridge already.

The heartiest items on our lunch menus are chock-full of lean protein, which can help you feel satisfied all the way up until dinner. Think staples like chicken and salmon, rich dairy sources including cottage cheese and yogurt, and nutrient-packed add-ons like seeds (i.e. sunflower seeds!) and legumes. And don't be surprised if you see a lot of ingredients with lots of fiber, like avocado and chickpeas, as they're low in calories and also aid in helping you feel wholly satisfied.

These easy-to-prep recipes are also seriously affordable, which means you'll have more money to spend when the weekend rolls around. Of course, healthy eating doesn't stop at noon: Start your day off with a healthy breakfast recipe and then keep it going with one of these low-calorie dinners.

avocado and tuna salad wraps
Mike Garten
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Avocado and Tuna Salad Wrap

Avocado subs in for creamy mayo in this lightened-up take on a tuna salad sandwich. Throw some extra mixed greens into the equation and everyone will be happy.

Get the Avocado and Tuna Salad Wrap recipe.

RELATED: 30 Wrap Recipes to Bring Your Lunch Game to the Next Level

soba noodle salad with shrimp and ginger vinaigrette in glass tupperware
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Soba Noodle Salad with Shrimp and Ginger Vinaigrette

Whether you're packing a midday meal for the office or have plans to enjoy a picnic lunch at the park, the last thing you want is a soggy salad. No stress! This make-ahead recipe stays crunchy all day, right up until you drench it in a ginger vinaigrette, toss and enjoy.

Get the Soba Noodle Salad with Shrimp and Ginger Vinaigrette recipe.

spinach recipes greek salad wraps
Mike Garten
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Greek Salad Wraps

Finding a protein-packed vegetarian lunch option can be a challenge at times, but these chickpea-studded wraps are here to save the day. (Pro tip: If you're keeping close tabs on your fat and sodium numbers, dial down the amount of feta you use. A small amount still adds a ton of flavor.)

Get the Greek Salad Wraps recipe.

white bean and tuna salad with basil vinaigrette
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White Bean and Tuna Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Each serving of this pantry salad packs in eight grams of fiber, which should help keep the hanger at bay (until dinnertime, at least).

Get the White Bean and Tuna Salad with Basil Vinaigrette recipe.

mediterranean shrimp bowl with red onion, rice, tomatoes, olives, and lemon
Mike Garten
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Roasted Mediterranean Shrimp Bowls

The beauty of a grain bowl is that you can effortlessly mix-and-match your way to healthy (delicious) combos — and the majority of the elements can be made ahead. Instead of your go-to grain, opt for riced veggies or chickpea-based rice as your base.

Get the Roasted Mediterranean Shrimp Bowls recipe.

roasted cauliflower tacos
Mike Garten
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Roasted Cauliflower Tacos

Inspired by the classic Mexican dish, these roasted cauliflower tacos paired with a colorful, crunchy taco slaw might be our new favorite taco recipe. Perfect for lunch!

Get the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Tacos »

healthy lunch ideas
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Shaved Carrot and Radish Salad

Who says salads need lettuce? The carrot ribbons and thinly sliced radishes are an amazing and unexpected substitute.

Get the recipe for Shaved Carrot and Radish Salad »

RELATED: 40 Easy Summer Salads That Pack in the Best Seasonal Flavors

best healthy lunch recipes open face steak sandwich
Mike Garten
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Steak Sandwich With Arugula

Keep carbs on the menu with this open-faced powerhouse sandwich that makes use of leftover dinner proteins.

Get the recipe for Steak Sandwich With Arugula »

best healthy lunch recipes  instant pot beef curry
Mike Garten
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Instant Pot Beef Curry

You wouldn't believe this hearty, filling lunch bowl requires just 15 minutes of prep time — and you'll do a double take when you hear it requires just five ingredients total.

Get the recipe for Instant Pot Beef Curry »

RELATED: 22 Best Instant Pot Recipes for Easy Weeknight Meals

salmon nicoise salad
Mike Garten
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Salmon Niçoise Salad

With olives, hard-boiled egg, potatoes and green beans, we figured out a formula for the classic salad that you can make ahead to pack on the go.

Get the Salmon Niçoise Salad recipe.

healthy lunch ideas
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Supergreen Mushroom & Orzo Soup

Ditch your heavy, cream-based winter soups for a light and refreshing supergreen soup.

Get the recipe for the Supergreen Mushroom & Orzo Soup »

RELATED: What to Eat to Boost Your Immune System, According to a Registered Dietitian

best healthy lunch ideas  waldorf chicken salad
Mike Garten
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Waldorf Chicken Salad

A power lunch mainstay, this all-time American favorite combines the best of our fresh pantry with a creamy mustard-based dressing. It's ready from scratch in under 20 minutes and is designed for easy meal prep at the start of the work week.

Get the recipe for Waldorf Chicken Salad »

greek chicken grain bowl
Mike Garten
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Greek Chicken Grain Bowl

Put together this healthy, delicious meal in advance, then just grab and go when you need to head out the door.

Get the Greek Chicken Grain Bowl recipe.

RELATED: A Beginner's Guide on How to Meal Prep for the Week

best healthy lunches  vegan bolognese pasta
Mike Garten
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Vegan Bolognese

Lentils and mushrooms make for a velvety smooth swap in this traditional ground-beef dish — it's a plant-based protein punch amid a generous serving of comforting pasta.

Get the recipe for Vegan Bolognese »

best healthy lunch recipes butternut squash curry
Mike Garten
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Butternut Squash Curry

We love how you can plop a bunch of fresh veg into a dutch oven and end up with this intensely delicious, aromatic curry for colder days. You can make a single batch to enjoy all week, and serve it with rice, noodles and other vegetarian staples as you go.

Get the recipe for the Butternut Squash Curry »

RELATED: 50 Easy Vegetarian Recipes for the Whole Family

best healthy lunch recipes fish tacos
Danielle Occhigrosso Daly
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Fish Tacos With Pico de Gallo

This 25-minute entreé makes use of tender mahi-mahi and plenty of citrus, but the quick pico you'll make pairs well with most other seafood. Try swapping in different filets of white fish seasonally!

Get the recipe for Fish Tacos With Pico de Gallo »

RELATED: 30+ Healthy Seafood Ideas for Dinner Tonight

healthy lunch ideas
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Tomato Panzanella

In our humble opinion, every salad should have marinated sour dough bread.

Get the recipe for Tomato Panzanella »

best healthy lunch ideas  chicken pesto sandwiches
Mike Garten
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Grilled Chicken Pesto Sandwiches

A big batch of our classic DIY pesto stored in your fridge is an effortless way to dress up quick lunches like this one, all while avoiding the sugar and sodium hiding in pre-made sandwich condiments.

Get the recipe for Grilled Chicken Pesto Sandwiches »

RELATED: 20 Healthy Sandwiches to Pack for Lunch

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Good Housekeeping's Low Calorie, Big Flavor Cookbook

150+ recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snacks—all 500 calories or less per serving!

vegan caesar salad
Mike Garten
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Vegan Caesar Salad

This is a crowd-pleasing lunch that anyone can enjoy, no matter their dietary preferences (meat lovers, you’ll love this too!).

Get the recipe for Vegan Caesar Salad »

best healthy lunch recipes  pork sliders lettuce wraps
Mike Garten
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Fiery Pork Lettuce Wraps

Pork gets a bad rep for being a fatty cut of protein, but lean tenderloin makes for a filling base at lunch, especially dressed in zesty citrus notes. Added bonus? You can use leftover pork from last night's dinner to get the job done.

Get the recipe for Fiery Pork Lettuce Wraps »

california roll salad
Mike Garten
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California Roll Salad

It's all of your favorite elements of the popular Japanese-American favorite made into a lunch bowl you soon won't forget.

Get the recipe for California Roll Salad »

egg salad served on a piece of toasted bread
Sandy Carmo
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Egg Salad Sandwich

An egg salad sandwich is the best lunch to make if you don't have a ton of ingredients on hand. Your pantry to the rescue!

Get the recipe for Egg Salad Sandwich »

wedge salad with creamy herb dressing on a white plate
Mike Garten
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Wedge Salad With Creamy Herb Dressing

Mastering this ultra-fast salad recipe can allow you to quickly riff on it during a hectic WFH weekday — top it with freshly boiled eggs, leftover chicken, a medley of fresh veg, or a mix of whatever you'd like.

Get the recipe for Wedge Salad With Creamy Herb Dressing »

healthy lunch recipes   stuffed avocados with shrimps
Mike Garten
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Citrusy Shrimp-Stuffed Avocados

Ditching bread and your lunch sandwich for a stuffed avocado is a delicious (and healthy!) way to enjoy protein at lunch. At under 500 calories, you'll have room for an afternoon snack.

Get the recipe for Citrusy Shrimp-Stuffed Avocados »

Rice Recipes
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Sweet Pea Risotto

This pea-packed recipe offers a greener spin on your favorite comfort food.

Get the recipe for Sweet Pea Risotto »

tex mex chicken salad
Mike Garten
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Tex-Mex Chicken Salad

Rotisserie chicken is a midday MVP. When you get home from the grocery store, shred the chicken and store in a container. Then, add it to soups, sandwiches and salads throughout the week.

Get the Tex-Mex Chicken Salad recipe.

RELATED: 24 Best Rotisserie Chicken Recipes

best healthy lunch recipes grilled peach and mozzarella salad
Mike Garten
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Peach Caprese Salad

If they're in season, swapping out tomatoes for fresh peaches can add an umph to a salad you already know and love. These stacked bites also make for an exciting side for any leftovers in the fridge.

Get the recipe for Peach Caprese Salad »

healthy lunch ideas
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Roasted Cauliflower Pizza

This five-ingredient recipe is much healthier than a greasy slice from your local takeout joint.

Get the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Pizza »

spice grilled steak salad
Mike Garten
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Spice-Grilled Steak Salad

Rub skirt steak with hot paprika before grilling to add some smoky heat to this healthy lunch.

Get the Spice-Grilled Steak Salad recipe.

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