Do a quick search for healthy lunches and you’ll find millions of results telling you to pack kale chips, toasted chickpeas, cans of tuna or celery for lunch. Those are definitely healthy options, but they’re not exactly considered “delicious” in everyone’s book. So, what can you pack for lunch if you’re trying to lose weight with phentermine, but still want to have a “normal” lunch that doesn’t sacrifice on flavor? Here are 12 simple, healthy pack ahead lunches that you’ll actually want to eat at work!
✨12 Healthy Pack Ahead Lunches
When you’re working hard to lose weight, taking you lunch to work is any easy way to save calories and money! Not sure where to start? Here are 12 easy, yummy lunch ideas to jumpstart your meal prep!
1. Turkey sandwich + baby carrots + ranch + grapes
Turkey is lean and high in protein, making it the perfect meat for weight loss. Toss a couple slices of turkey on 2 slices of whole-wheat bread, spread on some mustard (and a touch of mayo, if you like) and add plenty of lettuce and tomatoes to give the sandwich volume. Serve with baby carrots and ranch, plus grapes for dessert.
2. Healthy tuna salad + 1 serving of whole-wheat crackers + orange + square of dark chocolate
Tuna salad is a classic, but give it a healthy twist to mix things up. Combine one can of water-packed tuna (drained) with a couple of spoonfuls of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt, 1 tsp of mustard and ¼ cup of shredded carrots. Using yogurt instead of mayo decreases fat and increases protein! Serve with whole-wheat crackers, plus an orange and a small square of dark chocolate (>70% dark).
3. Avocado chicken wrap + apple slices + fat-free flavored yogurt
Spread a whole-wheat tortilla with ¼ of an avocado (or about 1-2 tbsp of guacamole), lettuce, tomato and a little sliced onion. Add some skinless chicken breast (rotisserie, grilled or baked – whatever you have!) and roll. Serve with a sliced apple and a 6oz fat-free yogurt for dessert. If you’re reducing added sugars, opt for plain yogurt with frozen berries and/or a drizzle of honey instead.
4. Autumn spinach salad + rice cakes + light laughing cow cheese
I never get tired of spinach salad because it’s so versatile. As temperatures start to drop, make a seasonal spinach salad with baby spinach, sliced apple, ¼ cup of toasted pecans and a sprinkle of dried cranberries, topped with honey-Dijon vinaigrette. To round-out your meal, serve with 2 plain rice cakes and a wedge of light Laughing Cow cheese.
(Still in summer mode? Try this red, white and blue spinach salad instead!)
5. Adult pizza lunchable + orange + 100-calorie snack pack (or 14 almonds)
Make yourself an adult-version of the childhood favorite: a pizza lunchable. Pack whole-wheat English muffin + ¼ tomato sauce + ¼ low-fat mozzarella cheese for the healthy pizzas, plus an orange and a 100-calorie snack to complete your lunchable. If you don’t like, or don’t have, any 100-calorie snack packs sub it out for 14 almonds to give your meal a boost of protein. The pizzas are best if you can microwave them for about 30 seconds, but they’re perfectly edible cold too!
6. Turkey roll-ups + cucumber + ranch + blueberries
Give the traditional turkey sandwich a makeover and make some turkey roll-ups instead! You can use a whole wheat tortilla or lower calorie wraps like Flatout bread. Spread the tortilla with a little bit of mayo, mustard or ranch dressing, and then add a layer of lettuce, thinly-sliced tomatoes and low-sodium deli turkey. Roll-up it up like sushi/pinwheels, and then slice into disks. This is a quick, fun and healthy lunch! Serve with sliced cumbers and ranch, with blueberries for dessert.
You can use other meats, but favor lean meats like turkey over high-sodium processed meats like salami or bologna. Skip the cheese to avoid extra calories from saturated fat.
7. Hummus and veggie snack plate
Feeling fancy? Or in a hurry? Throw together a snack plate based on high-protein, high-fiber hummus. Serve ½ cup hummus with 1 serving of whole-grain crackers and 1-2 cups of raw veggies. I love baby carrots, slivered bell peppers, snap peas and sliced cucumber. Dip the crackers and veggies in the hummus for a fun, crunchy and quick lunch. Serve with red grapes as dessert.
If you’re still feeling hungry – or you know that’s not enough to keep you full – add a cheese stick or other 1oz serving of cheese. Grapes and cheese are delicious, filling blend of salty and sweet!
8. Chicken quesadilla + salsa + diced melon
Quesadillas are often considered a “junk food” because they can be extremely high in calories and fat, but they can also be part of a healthy diet if you make them at home. Use one large whole-wheat tortilla, ¼ cup of shredded cheese and about ½ cup of shredded chicken. Heat the skillet, spray it with cooking spray and throw in the tortilla. Spread chicken and cheese across half the tortilla and fold over – cook until the cheese is melted, flipping once. Remove from heat, let cool and slice into triangles. Notice that half a cup of cheese won’t make an oozing quesadilla, but instead a mostly-chicken quesadilla with just enough cheese to hold it together. Serve with tomato salsa and diced cantaloupe.
9. Greek quinoa salad + clementine oranges
Quinoa became famous a few years ago because it’s a versatile grain with a nutty flavor and naturally-high protein content. Many people think of this as a hot dish, but quinoa is great cold too, making it wonderful for pack ahead lunches! Cook quinoa as directed. Once cool, toss with about 1 Tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp red wine or balsamic vinegar + a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of garlic and a shake of black pepper. Mix-in chopped cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, diced cucumber, diced red onion and just a little bit of feta cheese, and then chill overnight (or until lunchtime). This vegetarian dish doesn’t skimp on flavor, and it also gets your veggies and healthy fats into the main dish! Serve with clementines.
10. Bunless veggie burger (or turkey burger) + pumpkin soup + apple
Ready for some autumn flavors? Grill or sauté a veggie burger (or turkey burger) and serve it bunless alongside a cup of pumpkin soup and a crunchy apple. Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A, potassium, fiber and antioxidants, and also low in calories. Soups are easy to make at home, or you can purchase ready-to-eat pumpkin/squash soup at the store.
11. Chicken salad on apple slices (or lettuce leaves) + air-popped popcorn + diet hot chocolate
Chicken salad is usually served on white bread and prepared with tons of mayo, so it’s not exactly a health food. Thankfully, like most comfort foods, chicken salad can be made over to become a much healthier dish by substituting Greek yogurt in for the mayo. Combine cooked, shredded chicken with plain Greek yogurt, a touch of mayo, chopped celery & red onion, a few chopped pecans, a little parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and mustard to taste. Serve on apple slices or in lettuce leaves, with air-popped popcorn as a side. If you’re craving something sweet, make a cup of diet hot chocolate for desert.
12. Lentil soup + ½ cup brown rice + strawberries
Soup again! Did you know that soup is actually a proven weight loss tool? In several studies, researchers have found that soup-eating participants lost more weight than those who didn’t eat soup. Lentils are high in fiber, and they combine with brown rice to form a complete protein, so this meal gives you the fuel you need to stay full until dinner. Soak and drain lentils (to remove the bitterness), and then boil them in broth with garlic, onion, tomatoes, a bay leaf and whatever other seasonings you like. Serve with ½ cup of brown rice (or riced cauliflower) and strawberries.
Healthy Pack Ahead Lunches: DIY
Now that you have a few examples, you’re ready to start crafting your own healthy pack ahead lunches! You don’t need to masterfully craft each eating experience into the perfect balance of macronutrients and satisfying volume, but you should take the time to pack a meal that will fill you up and keep you full.
When designing the a healthy pack ahead lunch, make sure to include:
- A healthy, balanced main dish
- A fruit- or veggie-based side
- Something to satisfy your sweet tooth
- Healthy hydration
- The right amount of food
1) Main Dish
Choose a main dish that contains proteins, complex carbs and some healthy fats. This combination will keep you fueled, energized and satisfied until your next mealtime.
2) Healthy Side
Complement the balanced main with a fruit or vegetable side. If you don’t love the taste of fruits and vegetables, don’t be afraid to dress it up with a healthy dip. Steer clear of veggies coated in cheese or creamy sauces, or fruit doused in added sugar.
3) Something Sweet
If you have a sweet tooth, make sure you include a healthy dessert so that you don’t spend the whole afternoon craving junk food. Add-in an extra fruit or a small, 100 calorie treat to conquer your craving.
4) Water, etc.
Proper hydration is key for weight loss, especially if you’re taking phentermine, so make sure that you think about fluids when packing your lunch. Water should be your go-to, but you can also mix it up with unsweetened infusions, decaf/unsweetened tea and non-fat dairy.
5) Portions Matter
Last but not least, consider volume. If you’re like most people, the amount you eat affects how satisfied you feel.
In fact, research has shown that people feel hungrier at their next meal if they perceive that they ate a smaller meal earlier (and vice versa if they recall that they ate a larger meal). This effect occurs regardless of how many calories they actually consumed. So, volume is an important factor in deciding what to put in healthy pack ahead lunches! For example, a medium apple and 2 tbsp of peanut butter has more calories than 8 cups of air-popped popcorn. The peanut butter has some great, healthy fats and protein, but it’s also more calorically-dense, so make sure to balance out your need for nutrients with your need for volume. If you’re able to achieve a good equilibrium, you’ll feel more satisfied and less deprived – no matter your calorie goal!
On the flip side, when you’re working hard to lose weight it’s important to keep portions in-check. Whether the food is healthy or not, portion size directly relates to calories. If you’re not sure where to start (and don’t want to pull out the measuring cups or food scales), check out this guide on how to guesstimate portion sizes using your hands.
What do you think? What are your favorite pack ahead lunches? Share your tips and comments with us in the comment section below!