IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Healthy lunch recipes that will help you lose weight

Try these lunch recipes from TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer that contain no more than 400 calories.
Healthy Organic Quinoa Tabouli Salad
Healthy Organic Quinoa Tabouli Salad with Tomato and CucumberGetty Images
/ Source: TODAY

We get it, between your part-time job satelliting as your kid's teaching assistant, your spouse's loud conference call, and all the laundry sitting front and center, taking a break during the workday to make yourself lunch is the last thing on your mind. (Hello, processed snacks and all the coffee).

But taking a midday break to regroup and refuel with a nutritious meal can make the world of a difference for your mental health and your waistline. Luckily if you're looking to drop those 10 pounds that have crept up over the last few months, Joy Bauer's "Drop 10 TODAY" plan has loads of delicious and satisfying recipe options for every meal. You can mix and match all month long, repeating meals as often as you like. The meals contain the right balance of lean proteins, high-quality carbs and healthy fats to give you fast and effective results, with options that help you feel full.

Lunch rules:

For lunch, each option contains no more than 400 calories.

Midday meals follow my 3 "P" Plan — that stands for protein, produce and powering down.

These options are packed with ample protein and 2 cups of produce (specifically non-starchy veggies from the unlimited list), and you’ll need to power down.

(Click here to see a larger version of approved non-starchy vegetables.)

Non Starchy Vegetables Chart
TODAY illustration / Getty Images

Protein and produce pack a one-two punch against hunger, helping to satisfy your appetite and showering your body with good-for-you nutrients. And by powering down electronics, you’ll be present and more mindful during the meal.

And finally, sit down and slow down. Take a seat and take the time to own your meal. Slow the pace of your eating — this will enhance digestion and allow you to be more aware of hunger and fullness cues.

Lunch options:

Getty Images stock

1. Drop 10 salad

Mixed greens topped with 5 ounces of protein (chicken, turkey, salmon, shrimp or tofu), ½ cup beans and unlimited non-starchy veggies. Dress with 1 teaspoon olive oil + unlimited vinegar or fresh lemon juice (alternatively, you can use 2 tablespoons low-calorie vinaigrette).

2. Open-faced turkey & Swiss sandwich

One slice whole-grain bread layered with 4 ounces turkey, 1 slice of Swiss cheese, 1 tablespoon mustard or hummus and preferred vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc.) and 2 cups of baby carrots on the side. *If preferred, nix the cheese and enjoy your sandwich on 2 slices of bread.

3. Soup and salad

Two cups of lentil, black bean or hearty-vegetable soup and salad layered with non-starchy veggies and dressed with 1 teaspoon olive oil and unlimited vinegar or fresh lemon juice (alternatively, you can use 2 tablespoons of low-calorie vinaigrette).

4. Cantaloupe and cottage cheese

Half of a cantaloupe with 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese topped with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds or pistachios and 2 cups non-starchy vegetables on the side (for example, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or bell pepper sticks).

5. Curried chicken salad with green peas

On a bed of baby spinach leaves + ½ whole grain pita.

Quinoa Tabouli Salad
Getty Images stock

6. Quinoa chickpea tabbouleh

With 1 cup non-starchy vegetables on the side.

7. Restaurant fare: chicken or fish with veggies

5 ounces cooked fish or skinless chicken (grilled, baked or broiled) + lots of steamed, grilled or roasted veggies on the side.

8. Chicken Caesar salad wrap

Enjoy with 1 cup sugar snap peas or sliced cucumbers.

9. Open-faced tuna melt

Enjoy with side salad dressed with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and unlimited vinegar or fresh lemon juice.

10. Veggie omelet

Enjoy with one slice of whole grain bread and 1 cup fresh fruit salad.


Enjoy one to two snacks each day — and add your favorites to this list! (Click here to see a larger version of Joy's approved snacks.)

15 Healthy Snacks Chart
TODAY illustration / Getty Images

Join the Drop 10 TODAY challenge! See the full plan here.

More recipes from the plan

For more diet and fitness advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter!

Any health-related information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, or before embarking on any diet, exercise or wellness program.