40 Low-Calorie Lunches You’ll Have On Repeat (2023)
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Hand’s up if you think low-calorie lunches are fun. Or that any list of low-calorie lunch ideas can contain exciting recipes.
That’s what I thought. I didn’t see many hands shooting up. When you think of ‘low-calorie lunch ideas’, ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’ aren’t exactly the adjectives that spring to mind.
Boring? Taste-less? Uninspiring? You’d be forgiven if these are the words that you associate with low-calorie lunches.
But listen up.
Fewer calories do not mean less taste!
When I think of ‘low calorie lunch ideas’ I think ‘Healthy lunch ideas’! Delicious meals, nutritious meals, something for the entire family to enjoy if needed.
Surprised? Don’t be.
Low calorie foods can be healthy meals made of healthy ingredients (like these 300 calorie breakfasts!). Without the added calories to hamper your weight loss or your energy balance!
At HTFU we are all about the best way to eat meals that are part of a healthy diet while supporting your goals.
So what makes a low calorie lunch? I would say a good low-calorie lunch for vegetarians must hit the following criteria:
- should be between 250-500 calories. Going lower than this is not advisable. 500 is the absolute top-end to be called low-calorie.
- contains at least 15 grams of protein
- contains no more than 10 grams of saturated fat
- has more than 5 grams of fiber
Simple meals that contain healthy fats, generous servings of fresh vegetables, and good, whole grains. And adequate protein to support your nutrition goals (weight loss/gain/maintenance etc) as well as fiber.
Why fiber, though? Fiber is important for a healthy diet, and research suggests that humans across the world consume way less than they ought to. But dietary fiber is vital for our bowel health, to control our blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and – drum roll – for achieving weight loss.
This is why all our recipes shared here have a minimum of 5 grams of dietary fiber in them.
Without further ado, here are our top low-calorie lunch ideas!
I have plenty of low-calorie lunch ideas that will churn out healthy recipes that can be enjoyed by your family (we also have healthy school lunches just this way!). No need to portion out and hide in the pantry to eat your rabbit food!
Lite Low-Calorie Lunches
Creamy Vegan Cauliflower SoupCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: high in protein and fiber to keep you full and healthy
This delicious recipe contains cauliflower and lentils, spiced with a taste of Morocco. High in protein, this soup will keep your blood sugar level.
Best Homemade Vegetarian Egg Drop Soup (Easy Recipe)Check out the recipe here
Bonus: create Chinese restaurant vibes at home!
Want a tasty veggie lunch that’s packed with protein? Look no further than our homemade vegetarian egg drop noodle soup! An easy lunch option for when you are in a hurry.
Subscribe to get our FREE 7-Day Vegetarian High Protein Meal Plan for Weight Loss
Wedge Salad with Creamy Cashew DressingCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: looks stunning, tastes amazing, and packs great into one jar
Fresh, easy, and delicious vegetarian wedge salad with creamy cashew dressing makes a perfect high-protein lunch in a jar. You will not find a more delicious salad!
Vegan Lettuce WrapsCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, vegan
Looking for a light lunch or snack? Try our vegan lettuce wraps, inspired by Korean ssam & filled with crispy tofu (and if you enjoy it, try these other vegetarian wraps too!)! The easy way to eat more leafy greens!
Buckwheat Salad with Kale and FetaCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: this fresh salad is a great option for a packed lunch
Looking for an easy gluten-free lunch you can bring to work with you? Try our vegetarian kale, feta, and buckwheat salad!
High Fibre Avocado Citrus Salad with FetaCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: it doesn’t get feta than this! (Sorry, couldn’t resist it!)
After something different for lunch? Try this avocado and citrus salad with feta – it’s sweet, and sour & packs a punch!
Cooling Cantaloupe Summer Salad (High-Protein Recipe)Check out the recipe here
Bonus: this super easy salad is also really healthy too!
With lime and mint providing mojito vibes, this summer cantaloupe salad will make you feel like you’re on holiday!
Vegetarian Spring Salad with Peas & LentilsCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: your digestive system will thank you for this!
Looking for a salad that is filling, healthy and high in protein? Try this spring salad with lentils & veggies now! With a whopping 15 grams of fiber!
Vegan Mediterranean Pasta SaladCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: pasta on a low calorie recipe list? Stop it!
Looking for a healthy vegan pasta salad that you can prep ahead for lunch? Try our Mediterranean pasta salad!
Couscous and Pear Salad with Goat’s CheeseCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: if goat’s cheese isn’t your jam, sub with feta, blue cheese or salad cheese!
After a salad recipe that actually fills you up? Try our Couscous & Pear Salad! It’s high protein, high fibre & low fat!
Vegan Lentil and Potato SaladCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: hearty lentil salad to warm your cockles
This protein packed vegan lentil and potato salad is a perfect weight loss recipe (and one of our best vegetarian lentil recipes!). It’s filling, healthy and nutritious, while still tasting amazing!
Colourful Bulgur Kidney Bean SaladCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: popping colors, popping textures and sublime flavors!
Looking for a salad that brings more to the table than leaves? This high protein bulgur kidney bean salad has you covered!
Avocado Chickpea Salad (5 Min, Vegetarian)Check out the recipe here
Bonus: power food for your power lunch!
Avocado Chickpea Salad. Supercharge Your Lunch: High in protein, fiber and put together in 5 minutes before you go to work. Easy and tasty.
Chickpea Salad with QuinoaCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: have you seen a happier plate of food?
Quinoa, feta, chickpeas, salad leaves and raisin – who’da thunk these five random ingredients would come together in such beautiful harmony?
Kidney Bean Chickpea SaladCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: stay on top of your nutrition game with ease
This simple chickpea salad is the first step to eating better by building powerful eating habits with simple yet delicious ingredients!
Heavenly Halloumi SaladCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: a great choice if you’re looking to eat more healthily!
Full of protein, fiber and loads of other nutrients this halloumi salad will keep you feeling full for hours – and you’ll secretly be looking forward to more!
Why not give it a go right away?
For the dressing and salad:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 2 cups arugula (rocket)
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 lime (juiced and zested)
For the cheese:
- 5 oz halloumi cheese (5oz = 150g)
- Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions with a little salt. We find it best to use double the amount of water to quinoa, and cook until water has evaporated. Take off heat and cover with a tea towel for five minutes.⅔ cup quinoa, ½ tsp salt
Dressing and salad:
- In the meantime, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Give the arugula/rocket a quick wash and shake. Put them into a large bowl.1 can chickpeas, 2 cups arugula
- Mix the juice and zest of the lime with the olive oil. Add the sweet paprika.1 tbsp olive oil, 1 lime, 1 tsp sweet paprika
- Chop the halloumi into bite-size pieces and fry for 2-3 minutes each side.5 oz halloumi cheese
- When the quinoa is ready, combine it with the chickpeas and arugula/rocket. Stir through the lime-oil mix. Serve in bowls with the halloumi on top. Enjoy!
Watermelon and Feta SaladCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: weight loss lunches have never looked fresher or fruitier!
This exceptionally quick and easy watermelon and feta salad is also incredibly tasty – and we even include a guide to picking the right watermelon!
Vegan Chickpea Winter Salad – Ready in 15 minsCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: summer or winter, we have yummy salads for all seasons!
An animal friendly, fresh and tangy winter salad with some serious health benefits. It’s fresh and new, but still prepped within 15 minutes – awesome!
The Ultimate Avocado SandwichCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: tell me, honestly, the sight of this in your lunch box will not gladden your heart?
The Ultimate Avocado Sandwich. A healthy and nutritious sandwich filled with avocado, cheese, tomatoes and rocket for a juicy and unbeatable taste!
Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich (8 Min, Vegan)Check out the recipe here
Bonus: my favorite sandwich recipe ever, that I would happily eat for breakfast, lunch, or snack!
Simple to make and refuels those important nutrients and amino acids to have you feeling fantastic in no time.
Chickpea Salad SandwichCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: never be stuck with boring cheese sandwiches again!
Upgrade your vegetarian sandwich offerings with this chickpea salad sandwich (one of our all time favorite veggie sandwich recipes)! It’s simple and speedy with 20g of protein!
Post-workout Healthy Fitness Sandwich For RunnersCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: Forrest wishes he had this sandwich – he might have run longer!
A tasty AF sandwich that hits all your nutritional post run needs – carbs, protein, healthy fats and electrolyte replenishment.
Hummus, Veggies & BreadCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: working lunch doesn’t get easier than this!
Literally, what it says on the tin! What it doesn’t say tho is the 18 g of protein and 17g of fiber on a 437 calorie meal!
Bit More Filling Low-Calorie Lunches
Tangy Veggie WrapCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: tangy veggie wrap works well with dips such as baba ganoush, or a side salad like the wedge salad.
Looking for a quick lunch that’s packed with colorful veg and plenty of flavor? This tangy veggie wrap has got it all! Such a great way to get your 5-a-day!
Easy Vegetable FrittataCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: learn how to make a delicious vegetable frittata without messing up the entire kitchen!
This simple vegetable frittata is full of veggie goodness and packed with protein. Go on, give it a go! This also makes an excellent healthy dinner option.
Creamy Polenta With MushroomsCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: really nutritious and help you feel fuller for longer
Enjoy a taste of the Med with our creamy mushroom and sundried tomato polenta – total perfection! The perfect lunch if you are on the lookout for some comfort food.
Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Red Pepper SauceCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: naturally gluten-free and low carb and just 10 mins meal prep time
After the perfect cauliflower steak? Try this simple & delicious roasted cauliflower steak with ricotta and pepper sauce!
Aubergine and Lentil Vegetarian MoussakaCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: classic Greek dish
This healthy high protein vegetarian moussaka is a true veggie delight with a Greek soul and full of flavor and texture!
Venezuelan Black Bean Arepas con QuesoCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: filling, healthy, and at 486 kcal per serving, a great idea for a decent-sized meal!
Looking for new lunch ideas? Try our Venezuelan-inspired vegetarian arepas – cornmeal flatbreads with beans & feta!
Rosti Potatoes with Asparagus and CheeseCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: gluten-free, low fat, and super tasty
Looking for a healthy version of a classic rosti recipe? Try our asparagus and potato rosti recipe with mozzarella slices!
Vegetarian Banh MiCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: filling, healthy, high in protein, and with enough calories to keep you going
Need a tasty sandwich that’s healthy too? Try our vegetarian banh mi, light and healthy take on the Vietnamese classic!
Spring Vegetable Fried RiceCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: in the time-honoured tradition of using up leftovers the next day!
Need to use some leftover rice and veggies? Rustle up some egg fried rice with this healthy vegetable fried rice recipe!
Mexican Bean StewCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: make this the previous night and let the flavors stew in and deepen
After a high protein, high fibre, low calorie vegetarian meal? Our Mexican bean stew is just the ticket! Try it now!
Easy Broccoli Stir Fry with Brown RiceCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: nutty brown rice is so unbelievably tasty in stir-frys!
Quick and delicious veggie side dish. High Protein, low carb, vegan and done within 30 minutes. In my opinion a must-have recipe.
Perfect Pizza Pancake RecipeCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: skillet pizzas or pizzas in a pan, call them whatever!
These pizza pancakes are perfect for lunch or dinner – super simple and full of the most exciting base and taste combos make it the best of both worlds (its still one of our top veggie pizza recipes!)!
Smoked Tofu and Hummus Buddha BowlCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: the perfect burst of flavor for your lunch break
Indulge with this smoky and savory Buddha Bowl. The combination of smoked tofu, hummus, and turmeric rice makes for a perfect vegan lunch (or dinner!)
Creamy Garlic Mushrooms on ToastCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: perfect for ladies (and gents!) who brunch!
Mushrooms on toast is such a typical college dorm fare but at HTFU, it gets elevated to a proper meal. One chockful of good protein, fats and fiber.
Sweet Potato BurritosCheck out the recipe here
Bonus: I have three words for you – Mexican. Sunday. Lunch!
Sweet Potato Burritos – bursting with Mexican flair and tantalising flavours, this authentic recipe is easy to make for one or the whole big family!
Now, wasn’t that a fun and interesting collection of low-calorie lunches? Why would you settle for a soup from a packet, when you can tuck into something as delicious as any one of these delicious foods?
Repeat after me – healthy meals can be fun meals. Interesting meals. The same goes for low-calorie meals. The proof is right here, in front of your very eyes!
Low-Calorie Lunch Questions
What should I eat for lunch when trying to lose weight?
Losing weight is a matter of energy balance. Based on your weight loss goals, eating a lunch that contains plenty of lean protein and fiber will both fill you and keep you full for long.
We have plenty of healthy lunch recipes that contain fewer calories, that are tasty as heck, and can help you hit your weight loss goals.
Warming soups such as creamy cauliflower soup or egg drop soup. Tangy veggie wraps that are wonderful on-the-go lunches. Roasted cauliflower steaks that are great for barbecues.
And plenty of super yummy salads like avocado citrus salad with feta or vegan lettuce wraps.
All contain 500 calories or less, leaving you with plenty of calories for the rest of the day, so you will never need to go hungry!
What can I eat besides salad to lose weight?
It is a fallacy to think that eating salads is the only way to lose weight. HTFU has plenty of recipes in the 500 calories and under ballpark that make perfect low-calorie meals, suitable for weight loss.
Try our vegetarian bahn mi. Or the aubergine and lentil moussaka. How about some vegetable frittata? Or even some creamy, dreamy mushroom polenta? Or the supreme vegetarian chickpea salad sandwich?
That said, salads get bad press as legit meals and we have plenty of amazing salad recipes that are as far from boring leaves as you can possibly get. Such as our vegetarian wedge salad. And the gluten-free buckwheat salad. Even the suitably named arugula salad from heaven!
Can I eat pasta if I want to lose weight?
In a word: YES! We have plenty of light pastas that are chock full of the good stuff! How about our Creamy Avocado pasta, with a solid 14g of protein and under 500 calories? Or our pasta and bean casserole – 21 g of protein and just a smidge above 500 kcal.
Or the vegan Mediterranean pasta salad with 18g of protein and 483 kcal. We even have a pasta recipe with peanut butter sauce!!!
As long as your calorie intake is under control you can – dare I say it – have your pasta and eat it too! 😉
Why not sign up for our 7-day vegetarian weight loss meal plan? It’s free! You can learn what else you can eat while actively trying to lose weight. (Psst! We even have a pizza recipe!)
It’s 2022 and the phrase ‘low calorie lunches’ should not strike fear in your belly or make you want to curl up and weep over your arid, food-free future.
Join me over here on the fun side, where there are healthy recipes AND low calorie recipes, all living together happily under one roof (and these aren’t our only vegetarian low calorie lunches!).
Now that you have seen the list, what do you think? Which of these low calorie lunches are you going to try next? I hope I have given you plenty of low calorie lunch ideas to zhuzh up your lunch (now you should check out our vegetarian low carb dinner ideas too!).
Do tell me what you think, in the comments section below 🙂