This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Coming up with the perfect weight loss eating plan isn’t always easy. Here are 7 lunch ideas for weight loss and why these meals are great for your goals.
Lunch is an important part of your day when it comes to losing weight. It’s one of the 3 main moments you eat food. First, you will get the 7 lunch ideas. After that, you can read the reasoning behind them so you can analyze your own lunch ideas to see if they are weight loss-friendly.
7 Lunch ideas for weight loss
To save yourself time you can prepare multiple portions of the lunches in one sitting to save time. Most of the ingredient lists are already for multiple servings.
You can adapt these recipes to your liking by adding and removing ingredients of your choice. As long as you make healthy swaps the lunch ideas should still be as great for weight loss as before.
1. Shrimp and avocado salad
This delicious shrimp and avocado salad recipe is for 4 servings.
- 2 and 1/2 lbs (1.2 kg) of shrimp
- 5 tablespoons of olive oil
- Half of a small pineapple, sliced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Half a red onion
- Half a cucumber
- A bit of watercress
- 1 avocado
Start preparing the shrimp and pineapple in a pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Meanwhile mix the other ingredients in a bowl and add the shrimp and pineapple when they are ready.
2. Quinoa Special
There might be slightly better alternatives but quinoa is still a great option for your weight loss diet. You can always switch up the vegetables to suit this salad more to your taste.
If you can use more protein you can add for example shredded chicken.
The quantities mentioned are for 2 servings.
- 2 and 1/2 lbs (1.2 kg) of shrimp
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1/4 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup grated carrots
- 1/4 cup corn kernels
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
Start cooking the quinoa according to package instructions.
Meanwhile prepare the other ingredients in a bowl. Add and mix the quinoa once it’s ready.
3. Roasted salmon with green beans and tomatoes
This simple yet tasty combination will provide you with a nice amount of omega 3 fats, micronutrients and antioxidants. The ingredients are for 4 servings.
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 1/4 lbs ( 0.5 kg) green beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 lbs ( 0.5 kg) skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
- Extra vegetables of your choice
Put the beans, tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet in a preheated oven (425°F / 220°C) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast them until the vegetables are tender and start to become brown. Usually this takes 12 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile put the salmon in a frying pan with a tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown color.
Add sides of vegetables of your liking and enjoy.
4. Oatmeal and egg
Many people see oatmeal as a breakfast food that requires a lot of sugar to make tasty. The opposite it is true. With the right ingredients oatmeal can make for a great lunch idea.
The ingredient amounts are for 1 serving.
- ½ cup (quick-cooking) rolled oats
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- Cooking oil (preferably olive oil)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons shredded cheese
- 1 tablespoon sliced scallion greens
Start boiling 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Once it starts boiling add the oats and stir every once in a while until they’re good. This will take about 5 minutes.
Start baking the egg in a small pan and add salt and pepper.
Once both are ready combine them and finish off with the cheese and scallion greens.
5. Kale and roasted cauliflower salad
Another nutritious and filling salad. If you need more protein you can increase the amount of cheese in it or add some of your favorite protein sources.
Ingredients are for 4 servings.
- 1 pound (0.5kg) cauliflower
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup (8 cl) lemon juice
- 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) golden raisins
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) pine nuts
Roast the cauliflower with olive oil on a baking sheet in a preheated oven (450°F / 230°C) with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast until stems are tender which usually takes about 25 minutes.
When ready mix the cauliflower with all the other ingredients.
6. Crisp chickpea combo
Chickpeas are similar to beans in terms of nutrients which means a good source of plant-based protein. It’s not quite at the level of most meats but it does come with some extra fiber.
The ingredients are good for about 4 servings.
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 fresh lemon
- 1 can chickpeas drained (19 oz)
- 1/4 cup sliced red onion
- 2 cups grape tomatoes sliced
- 2 cups diced cucumber
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
Slice the avocado and put it in a bowl. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 lemon over the avocado.
Add and mix remaining salad ingredients.
7. Chicken and apple mix
Not all fruits go great with salads but apples have their place and time. On top of that this mix will provide you with a lot of micronutrients, fiber and healthy calories.
The ingredients are for 1 serving.
- 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- ½ cup cooked diced sweet potato
- 3 ounces shredded cooked chicken
- ¼ cup sliced apple
- 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinaigrette (see Tip)
- ¼ cup chopped avocado
- 2 tablespoons roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
- ½ ounce low-fat Cheddar cheese, cubed
Toss escarole (or romaine), sweet potato, chicken, and apple in a bowl
Top with avocado, sunflower seeds, and Cheddar.
Requirements for a good weight loss lunch
Now you have some inspiration for good lunches you can learn why these are so great for weight loss.
If you learn what’s important to look for in lunch ideas for weight loss you can get creative yourself too instead of having to search for specific recipes over and over.
A healthy lunch doesn’t have to fulfill all these check marks but the more the better. Losing weight is not about doing everything perfectly. The better you do things, the more weight you will lose.
You want your meals to really fill you up until dinner. This way you won’t be tempted to eat unhealthy snacks throughout the day. Snacking will add calories to your diet and raise your insulin levels again and again.
If you do pick recipes with carbohydrates it’s wise to choose the ones with complex carbohydrates. These are also great because they contain important nutrients. Bad, simpler, carbohydrates will add a lot of calories and make you more hungry.
Easy to prepare or batch
There are only 24 hours in a day and that won’t change anytime soon. Life is busy enough as it is. You probably don’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen every day to prepare your lunch. Most people have many things they would rather spend time on.
The two things that greatly influence how much time you will spend preparing your lunch is how easy the lunch is to prepare and how convenient it is to batch multiple lunches. Batching means preparing multiple meals in one session. You for example bake different meats for different lunches at the same time. This way you will have to take the pan out of the drawer only once.
At first, this might not sound like much. However, doing your meal prep the right way will almost always save you a lot of time.
Eating isn’t just to feel less hungry. The things you eat contain all kinds of nutrients that greatly influence your health and weight loss. Your food should provide you with most of the micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, you need to be the best version of yourself.
Lunch and breakfast are the ideal meals to get the main part of your daily nutrients. Eating too much at dinner can disrupt your sleep. Sleep is very important for your weight loss and health.
Calories get quite the bad name but you do need them even when you’re trying to lose weight.
They provide your body with the energy to do everything you do. It’s true that you don’t want to overdo it but that does not mean consuming a crazy low amount. If you don’t consume enough calories you might experience an unhealthy weight loss rate.
When you eat your calories actually impacts your health. You want to keep calories for earlier in the day. This way your body doesn’t have to do as much digesting in the evening. This will improve your sleep which in turn will benefit your weight loss.
You also preferably want to get your calories from healthy sources. That’s why there are no unhealthy dressings in the lunch ideas. Unhealthy calorie sources often impact your body in ways that don’t benefit weight loss.
Lunch ideas for weight loss final guidelines
Choosing your lunch for weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated. If you keep the guidelines in mind you should have no problem choosing a healthy lunch for yourself every day.
The thing that gets most people is that they don’t batch and spend a lot of time so make sure you reserve a moment every week to prepare your meals in advance. Complexity is the enemy of execution. The easier it is to prepare your meals the easier it is to stick to them.