3 Amazing Lunches Under 400 Calories
Have you ever entered your workplace kitchen and seen a tool that seemed overly-specialized for a simple work lunch? I’m the reason that work kitchens end up with a cutting board, french press, salad spinner, and so on. Not every healthy lunch requires you to drag your half your kitchen to work in order to enjoy something nutritious and fresh, however.
I’m not a great cook, so I happen to have a pretty decent repertoire of healthy work lunch recipes that don’t require much more than simple assembly. Here are my favorite healthy lunches, packed with flavor, that happen to be under 400 calories.
Avocado Grapefruit Salad
Give it a chance! This is one amazing meal that I never would have come up with on my own. My friend, a revered food and drink writer, suggested that I try the combination of avocado and grapefruit because we were talking about how good avocados are. Skeptically, I tossed together a salad with those ingredients and a few other things in my kitchen. It is so good! It’s now in my regular rotation. Just cut up your greens (I prefer kale), add cut sections of one red grapefruit, half of an avocado, as much chopped cilantro as you’d like, and ¼ cup of reduced fat feta. You don’t need dressing because the grapefruit is so juicy. You can add a light sprinkle of sea salt, and you’ve got a 316 calorie salad that will rock your work-lunch world!
Beets by Dren
Yeah, I’m pretty funny. For this salad, you have to think ahead and roast some beets. All I do is wash them, cut off the stem, and wrap them in tin foil. Bake like a potato! They’re done when a fork goes in easily, also like a potato. Remove the skin while you’re still at home (they are very purple, and you don’t want to risk getting a nice stain on your work outfit) and cut them up for later use. Then all you need to do is throw your two beets in with some greens, crumble about 1.5–2 ounces of goat cheese on top, and add something crunchy that you like (chow mein noodles are good, but a little higher in calories—I use fat free croutons). That is a 329 calorie salad that’s highly flavorful and packed with vitamins!
What the Body Needs
This one is slightly less creative than the others, but it’s been a lifesaver. I cook up a package of extra lean ground turkey, turkey tenderloin, boneless/skinless chicken breast, or pork loin. Then I cook a dry cup of long grain, brown rice (I know it takes a longer time to cook, but I think it’s better than instant). When that’s all done, I open up a big can or two regular cans of beans and drain and rinse them. I like kidney beans that are light or dark red, but you could use garbanzos, pinto, or a white bean (I like the kind that is lower in sodium, typically true of the ones branded as natural or organic because they use sea salt). Then get out a jar of pasta sauce of your choice. Sauce usually isn’t too high in calories, but I like the ‘light’ options that are lower in sodium and sugar. Measure out about 4 ounces of meat (a deck of cards, or ¼ of the pound package), ½ cup of cooked rice,1/3 cup of beans, and 1/3 cup of sauce. Season if your sauce is a little plain, and add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.This filling and satisfying meal is about 350 calories and will keep you full all day because of the whole grain carbs, fiber, and protein. The above recipe makes four of them, and they freeze well. Just measure them out into freezable containers, let them cool for up to an hour, and throw two in the freezer. Eat the first two for lunch Monday and Tuesday, and take the other two to work with you for later in the week. Super easy, cheap, filling, tasty, and nutritious!
Those are my go-to options for lunches that meet all of my criteria, including being budget-friendly, and easy to assemble. Feel free to share suggestions on your favorite lunches!