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10 Healthy Lunch Ideas the Entire Family Will Love!

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By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

healthy lunch

When everyone is at home, knowing how to make a healthy lunch is a must! But even if everyone is on the go, you can still pack healthy lunches for everyone!

Choosing healthy lunches for you and your family means omitting highly processed prepackaged foods, along with sugar-sweetened beverages, whenever possible.

Choose a protein, fiber-rich starch (or fruit), and healthy fat at each meal.

A healthy lunch is important when everyone is at home, but just about any recipe you prepare at home can be packed as a lunch if you have the right type of container or thermos.

Ready to rock noontime with some amazing healthy lunches? Keep reading!

Need nutritious dinners, too? Try these family dinner ideas that are healthy — and not boring!

What Constitutes a Healthy Lunch?

A healthy lunch consists of the following macronutrients:

Protein Foods

Protein gives your body the nourishment needed to get through a long day.

It repairs and builds muscles, keeps you full for long time periods, and enhances your metabolism.

Protein is crucial for exceptional growth and development in children.

Examples of nutritious protein foods you can eat at home or pack in a healthy lunch include:

  • Grilled chicken
  • Baked turkey
  • Shrimp
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Low-fat milk
  • Protein-fortified plant milk
  • Low-sugar protein bars
  • Low-sugar protein shakes
  • Cottage cheese
  • Reduced-fat cheese
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Hummus

Protein foods to avoid include cold cut meats, ham, salami, other highly-processed meats, and yogurt or kefir with a lot of added sugar.

Aim to fill about one-fourth of each lunch plate with protein-rich foods.

How much protein do we need per day? Watch this video to calculate your daily protein intake!

Fiber-Rich Starches

Fiber-rich starches also promote satiety, optimizing energy levels and keeping you full longer.

The fiber in these foods aids in healthy weight management and reduces your risk of developing high cholesterol and heart disease.

Examples of fiber-rich starches you can add to a healthy lunch include:

  • Whole-grain bread
  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Brown or wild rice
  • Quinoa
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Other legumes

Add a variety of fiber-rich starches to lunches throughout the week, and combine them with protein foods and healthy fats.

About one-fourth of each plate should contain nutritious starches.

Healthy Fats

Nutritious fats complete a healthy lunch by boosting satiety, maintaining healthy skin and hair, enhancing brain health, and optimizing just about every body function.

Choose from the following good fats:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Hummus
  • Olives
  • Plant-based oils
  • Fish oil

Nuts, seeds, nut butters, and hummus are sources of both nutritious fats and protein.

This video explains basic nutrition for beginners, giving you 4 actionable ways to eat healthier!

 

Healthy Lunch Ideas at Home

If you and your family eat lunch at home, consider adding the following healthy lunches to your menu:

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad

This delicious Mediterranean grilled chicken salad lunch recipe is sure to be a hit with your entire family, including kids of all ages.

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley
  • 4 chopped Romaine lettuce hearts
  • 3 cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 4 ounces of crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup of pitted, halved kalamata olives

Instructions

  • Heat a grill to medium-high heat.
  • Season chicken with salt, pepper, oregano, and coriander.
  • Grill the chicken, covered, until golden (18-22 minutes).
  • Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing it.
  • Prepare the dressing by whisking together olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and parsley in a small bowl.
  • Divide the cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, feta, avocados, and olives into four separate serving bowls.
  • Top your salad with grilled chicken and salad dressing, serve, and enjoy!

Servings: 4

Homemade Turkey Burgers

Cook up some homemade turkey burgers and eat them the same day or save them for later in the week for lunch on days you're tight on time.

Your entire family will love this recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of very lean ground turkey
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Whole-grain hamburger buns
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced avocados

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine together the egg, turkey, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Form the mixture into 4 patties.
  • Add oil to a skillet over medium heat.
  • Place turkey patties on the skillet and cook until golden (about 5 minutes per side).
  • Serve the burgers on a bun or over lettuce with your desired toppings, and enjoy!

Servings: 4

Black Bean Burgers (Vegan)

Go vegan and get in a serving of protein plus vegetables by choosing this nutritious black bean burger recipe!

Ingredients

  • 2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained
  • 1 3.5-ounce package of chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro or parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • Toasted whole-grain hamburger buns
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced red onion
  • Sliced avocado

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spread the beans in a layer on a large baking sheet.
  • Place the mushrooms and onions on a separate large baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake the beans until they are dry and the skins split (about 7-9 minutes).
  • Bake the mushroom and onion mixture until tender (18-20 minutes).
  • Place the mushrooms, onions, beans, oats, avocado, garlic, cilantro, paprika, cumin, and chili powder in a food processor and blend the mixture until smooth.
  • Let it rest for 10 minutes in the refrigerator and form the mixture into 4 evenly sized patties.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the veggie burgers and cook them until the outsides are golden and crisp (about 4 minutes per side).
  • Serve the burgers over lettuce or on whole-grain hamburger buns. Top them with tomatoes, avocado slices, or any other favorite topping!

Servings: 4

Rainbow Chicken with Veggies

Getting your children to eat their vegetables has never been easier with this flavorful, colorful, rainbow chicken and vegetable recipe!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cups of baby carrots
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 small red onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 pound of cubed boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, red onion, and chicken on two large sheet pans.
  • Make the marinade by combining lime juice, olive 0il, salt, pepper, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Whisk it until well combined.
  • Pour the marinade over the chicken and veggies and add more salt and pepper if you'd like. Toss until combined well.
  • Bake the mixture for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Divide the cooked brown rice into five servings and top with the roasted chicken and veggie mixture. Or, you can skip the rice and go low-carb!

Servings: 5

Learn how to read nutrition information on another level!

 

Lunch Time Burrito Bowl

Consider this unique, delicious burrito bowl recipe the next time you and your family sit down for lunch together:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 pound of very lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup of plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of hot sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans
  • 2 avocados, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved

Instructions

  • Cook the brown rice in a small pot according to the package instructions.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the turkey until no pink remains (about 6-7 minutes).
  • Season the turkey with salt and taco seasoning.
  • Mix together the yogurt and hot sauce in a small bowl (omit the hot sauce for the kids if you'd like).
  • Divide the rice among four bowls. Top it with cooked ground turkey, black beans, tomatoes, and avocados.
  • Drizzle the yogurt mixture over each bowl, garnish with cilantro if you'd like, serve, and enjoy!

Servings: 4

Stay on top of your nutrition on the weekend by using these 5 weekend diet tips!

 

Sack Lunch Ideas

Consider the following sack lunch ideas when you need to pack a lunch for yourself, your spouse, or your children.

Or, consider these quick lunch ideas when you're eating at home but are tight on time!

Tuna Salad Sandwich

A tuna salad sandwich is loaded with protein, heart-healthy fats, and fiber if you choose whole-grain bread.

Simply combine tuna with avocado-oil mayonnaise or Greek yogurt plus chopped celery.

Consider the following satiating tuna salad recipe:

Ingredients

  • 4 6-ounce cans of tuna packed in water
  • 1 large stalk of celery, diced
  • 2 small dill pickles, diced
  • 1/4 cup of minced red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of avocado oil mayonnaise

Instructions

  • Drain the cans of tuna.
  • Transfer the tuna to a large bowl.
  • Add celery, pickles, onion, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, mayonnaise, and yogurt.
  • Stir well and place in the refrigerator.
  • Serve the tuna salad cold on whole-grain bread or over lettuce.
  • Add avocado and tomato slices if you'd like!

Servings: 10

Pair a tuna sandwich with Greek yogurt, milk, or reduced-fat cheese plus nuts, fruit, or raw veggies.

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Healthy PB&J

Kids (even many adults) often love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

When preparing PB&J for sack lunches, make them as healthy as possible by choosing low-sugar jelly and whole-grain bread instead of refined white bread.

You can replace jelly with sliced bananas if you'd like! Pair the sandwich with hard-boiled eggs, a reduced-fat cheese stick, or Greek yogurt plus fresh veggies.

Chicken or Turkey Wraps

When choosing a chicken or turkey wrap to pack in a sack lunch, cook the meat ahead of time and chill it, rather than choosing cold cut meat or other highly processed meats.

Place the chicken or turkey, along with your favorite veggies plus avocados, hummus, or an oil-based dressing, in a whole-grain tortilla.

Wrap up the ingredients, slice the wrap in half if you'd like, and pack it in a sack lunch with fruit, nuts, or Greek yogurt.

You can wrap chicken or turkey in lettuce instead of a tortilla to go low carb!

Healthy Egg Salad

To boost the protein content of your sack lunch, consider making this healthy egg salad recipe and spreading it on whole-grain bread.

You can also eat it over salad greens to go low carb!

Ingredients

  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 hard-boiled egg whites
  • 3/4 cup of diced celery
  • 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped dill
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced tomatoes

Instructions

  • Cook the eggs in boiling water in their shells.
  • Let the eggs cool, peel them, and dice the eggs.
  • Place them in a large mixing bowl and add mustard, celery, Greek yogurt, dill, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  • Serve the egg salad over whole-grain bread with sliced tomatoes or on top of salad greens, and enjoy!

Servings: 3

Pair an egg salad sandwich with fruit plus cottage cheese, milk, or yogurt.

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Homemade Chicken Soup

You might not think about chicken soup as something you can pack in a sack lunch, but with a thermos that holds in heat, doing so is the way to go during cold fall and winter months!

Prep homemade chicken soup the night before, heat it up, and pour it in a sealed thermos to eat when you're on-the-go or at work or school.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of olive or avocado oil
  • 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of pearl couscous
  • 2/3 cup of frozen peas

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add in garlic, carrots, celery, and onion. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent.
  • Add in the ginger and turmeric.
  • Saute the mixture for 30 seconds and add in chicken broth, chicken breast, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, add in couscous, and stir well.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer it (uncovered) for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.
  • Remove the chicken, place it on a cutting board, and shred it with two forks.
  • Add the chicken back into the soup along with frozen peas.
  • Add in another 1 cup of chicken broth if needed, and extra seasonings if you'd like!

Servings: 6

Pair chicken soup with whole-grain crackers, avocado slices, fruit, nuts, reduced-fat cheese, milk, or yogurt if you'd like!

For more nutritious eating tips, including additional healthy lunch recipes, sign up for the Fit Mother Project, or try the free Fit Mom 3-Day Weight Loss Jumpstart today!

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Erin Coleman

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on healthy lunch ideas.

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