5 healthy easy lunch ideas for weight loss for women

If you’re trying to lose weight, it helps to have healthy meals on hand that you actually enjoy eating. And if you’re looking for some inspiration, this post includes 5 of my favorite healthy easy lunch ideas for weight loss with meal templates, so you can create your own versions of them that are specific to your preferences.

Why is it so hard to plan healthy easy lunch ideas for weight loss?

Here’s some of the reasons why you might struggle with meal prepping your lunch:

  • Being bored with all of your lunch options
  • Running out of time to prep lunch, so you end up eating something random and not satisfying
  • Working through your lunch hour

If you’re trying to lose weight, you might be wondering if you’ll lose more weight by skipping lunch. Here’s why I don’t recommend it and why eating lunch may help you lose weight.

Should I skip lunch to lose weight?

The short answer is no, I would not recommend skipping lunch to lose weight. In fact, “saving your calories for the evening” is one of the most common mistakes I see people make when they are trying to lose weight.

When you’re trying to lose weight skipping lunch backfires in the short and long term multiple reasons:

  • Not eating during the day contributes to low energy availability (LEA), which contributes to an increased risk of injury, fatigue, brain fog, and poor performance in the gym.
  • It causes you to become excessively hungry by the time you get to dinner causing you to overeat or have a snack attack late at night, which may even cancel out your deficit.
  • Purposely skipping meals may contribute to disordered eating behaviors, which is harmful to your long term mental and physical health and will make it hard to maintain any weight that you lose long term.

Learn more about how meal timing and hunger signals can influence your eating behaviors and energy levels here.

Health easy lunch ideas for weight loss with meal templates

What is the healthiest lunch to eat?

In order to decide what to eat, it helps to know what makes a balanced meal, so you feel satiated and get a mix of nutrients.

To have a balanced meal, you’ll want to include foods from the following categories:

This framework supports weight loss, because it will help you stay full between meals reducing the tendency to snack and making it easier to be in a caloric deficit. If you don’t typically follow this framework, it might also explain why you’re still hungry right after eating.

This framework also makes it easy to plan high protein meals, which is helpful if you are trying to lose weight, because protein helps preserve muscle mass in a caloric deficit and helps you stay full longer. I would suggest making sure that your lunch includes 25 to 40 grams of protein.

Healthy Easy Lunch Ideas for Weight Loss #1: The Snack Plate

Think of these as grown-up lunchables. Throw a bunch of things that take little to no prep that you like on a plate and enjoy! If you want to be fancy, they can go on a charcuterie board or one of my clients puts everything in mini muffin tins, which I think is super fun.

  • Protein: Deli meat, tuna, hard boiled eggs, left over meat from the night before, tofu meat alternatives
  • Starchy Carb: Crackers, tortilla strips, pita
  • Fibrous Carb: Chopped raw veggies, fruit
  • Fat: Hummus, dressing, dips, cheese, nuts, olives

Healthy Easy Lunch Ideas for Weight Loss #2: Frozen Meal with Add-Ons

There’s nothing wrong with frozen meals if they make your life easier. Just consider what is missing from the framework. Usually, you will need to add more protein, fruit, or vegetables.

The way around this is to just have easy things to add to it!

Some examples of how to turn a frozen meal into a satisfying lunch to support weight loss:

  • Eat a frozen burrito with raw vegetables, dip, and an extra serving of chicken
  • Add a side salad, or a piece of fruit to a frozen wrap.
  • Combine frozen mac and cheese with air fried broccoli, a piece of fruit, and extra protein.
  • Enjoy a frozen pizza with a side salad and some turkey.

Healthy Easy Lunch Ideas for Weight Loss: Leftovers remixed

You can just eat leftovers from the night before, but you may also want to make extras of something to use the following day.

Some examples of how to use leftovers for simple healthy lunches:

This strategy might be for you if you’re better at planning dinner, because you can combine lunch and dinner prep without much extra work!

Healthy Easy Lunch Ideas for Weight Loss #3: Sandwich, Wrap, or Pita

First, yes, you absolutely can eat bread and lose weight. Weight loss requires a caloric deficit. You aren’t going to lose weight faster by giving up carbs and all enjoyment of food in the process.

How to turn a sandwich, wrap, or pita into a satisfying meal.

  • Pick a starch (bread, wrap, tortilla, pita) and then turn it into a mega sandwich.
  • Decide on your protein to ensure that you eat enough of it to stay full between meals (eggs, chicken, turkey, tuna, soy vegetarian meat alternative)
  • Pick a fat (cheese, spread, mayo, avocado) and some veggies (sprouts, lettuce, tomato, sauerkraut) to add to your sandwich or wrap and you have a balanced meal!

You can also eat your sandwich hot or cold to keep things interesting.

If you want to make your meal feel more substantial without adding a lot of extra calories, you can also add some raw veggies + dip, a salad, or fruit on the side.

Healthy Easy Lunch Ideas for Weight Loss #4: Giant Salad

This may be obvious, but this can be an easy option for a lot of folks, so I’m including it. Also, it doesn’t need to be “diet food.” You can make a really satisfying salad if you include a mix of ingredients that you also happen to really enjoy.

Examples of salad ingredients using the protein / carb / fat / fiber framework:

  • Protein: Deli meat, tuna, hard boiled eggs, left over meat from the night before, tofu meat alternatives
  • Starchy Carb: Tortilla strips, croutons, or bread on the side
  • Fibrous Carb: Fruit, raw or cooked veg, precooked beets or lentils
  • Fat: Dressing, dips, cheese, nuts, olives

What to do when you’re bored of lunch recipes

I didn’t include dessert or less nutrient dense foods like chips in the template, BUT they can be added to ANY meal to increase enjoyment factor. If you know you’ll enjoy a meal more if you add a cookie, some chips, etc, go for it. Enjoyment is a legitimate reason to eat something.

How to turn these lunch ideas into templates to continue to make healthy easy lunches without getting bored

Regarding reducing boredom, the beauty of a template is that you can swap ingredients.

  • Add ham instead of chicken.
  • Try different nuts or a different flavor of hummus.
  • Pick a different flavor profile for your meal.
  • Use a tortilla instead of bread or different kind of bread, and so on.

Also, notice how these ingredients can be combined to make different meals (e.g. a salad OR a wrap, a snack plate OR a sandwich. Finally, don’t forget that breakfast foods can be eaten at lunch. This includes omelets, cottage cheese / yogurt bowls, or loaded oatmeal, etc. You can also find more inspiration for lunches here, here, and here.

There’s not one right way to do this. Choose what you like and what makes things easy.

P.S. If you need some help with sustainable weight loss and want to develop nutrition habits that support your health and energy levels, nutrition coaching can fast track your progress.

Click here to learn more about nutrition coaching with me!

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