Low calorie, affordable lunch ideas

Mellykay88 Posts: 305 Member
edited June 2017 in Food and Nutrition
Hello! I'm currently working on losing weight (almost 80 lbs down) and I'm looking for low calorie (250 - 400 calorie range) lunch ideas that don't break the bank or take too much prep time. I'm looking for recipes that mix up one or two proteins, one or two veggies, etc to keep things interesting and affordable. For example, this week and last week I used a turmeric chicken recipe and turned it into salads, ate with yogurt, etc. Any other ideas? What's in your lunch box?


  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,890 Member
    You don't need special food to lose weight. You need to eat less. Eating less costs less.
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,849 Member
    Soup. Very filling for the calories if you add plenty of fiber-containing ingredients (beans, peas,..) and very cheap to make (typically whatever is cheap/leftover tossed into the pot). Add a cheap meat source to up the protein further if desired.
  • Mellykay88
    Mellykay88 Posts: 305 Member
    edited June 2017
    Sorry, my whole post didn't post. I've been quite successful, just looking for ideas to mix it up a bit.
  • Deegirl83
    Deegirl83 Posts: 3 Member
    edited June 2017
    My go to for lunch is homemade soup. As long as it's broth based (no cream) it's low calorie and very filling. My faves are chicken noodle, roasted tomato, or black bean, but the options are endless. It's also really cheap to make a huge pot that you can freeze part of for later.
  • Mellykay88
    Mellykay88 Posts: 305 Member
    Thanks! I'll add soup to the menu. :smiley:
  • Kliczbinski
    Kliczbinski Posts: 1 Member
    edited June 2017
    I like to make a large dinner and have leftovers the next day or few days. Like grilled chicken/beef/fish and veggies. I can make it into a wrap, salad or eat it as is the next day. I also like to make a bunch of hard boiled eggs to throw in a salad for extra protein if I running a little short. Eggs are cheap and easy to have on hand.
  • kimie54
    kimie54 Posts: 24 Member
    My lunch today was bell pepper, sweet onion, mushrooms, and 4 oz. deli roast beef, sautéed in one tablespoon olive oil and a little chicken stock. I seasoned it with pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and topped it with a slice of provolone cheese. It was a huge plate for only 407 calories.
  • Chef_Barbell
    Chef_Barbell Posts: 6,647 Member
    Wendy's chili!
  • anaxmann
    anaxmann Posts: 103 Member
    I like to make my protein on the weekend (or just a couple of times during the week) and combine with veggies each day of the week. It is pretty easy to make protein in bulk; sometimes I use my slow cooker and other times I just bake a sheet of something. This can be pretty flexible because veggies can mean salad greens, steamed or sauteed fresh veggies, or even still frozen veggies. This week was soy/garlic/ginger marinated baked chicken thighs, today I ate it with sauteed broccoli and probably will tomorrow, too. You can control the number of calories pretty easily this way.
  • Mellykay88
    Mellykay88 Posts: 305 Member
    Great ideas so far! Thanks! @Chef_Barbell I actually ate Wendy's chili for about a week solid a few weeks ago. It's yummy! I got sick of it though. That and Wendy's salads are my go to fast food lunches.
  • RobinSFoster
    RobinSFoster Posts: 44 Member
    I made a batch of Skinnytaste chicken taco chili. Easy to put together and enough to last for the week or to freeze for the future.
  • toxikon
    toxikon Posts: 2,384 Member
    edited June 2017
    I really like hearty salads. Here are my favourites (I'll add grilled chicken to any of them to bump up the protein):

    Southwest: iceberg lettuce, shredded cheddar, crushed spicy peanuts, crumbled bacon, southwest ranch dressing.

    Goat cheese Berry: baby spinach, chopped strawberries, blueberries, chopped walnuts/pecans, dried cranberries, goat cheese, raspberry vinaigrette.

    You can't go wrong with a Caesar Salad or Cobb either. You can prepare a few of these at home in mason jars (look up Mason Jar salads), then bring along your dressing in a small container.
  • l911jnt
    l911jnt Posts: 164 Member
    baked tilapia and a veggie unless you dont like fish. Its extremely filling and low calorie.
  • bpeters1989
    bpeters1989 Posts: 54 Member
    Eggs and spinach with provolone cheese and turkey bacon is my go to. lots of protein for sure and pretty low calorie depending on how many eggs. I eat 2 eggs and one egg white at the moment.
  • ashjongfit
    ashjongfit Posts: 147 Member
    I normally just cook a bunch of chicken and top salads, throw it in a wrap, or lately I throw some on a skewer with grape tomatoes and cubes of cheese, then dip in mustard with a side of baby carrots, its so good. I even throw some cooked chicken and veggies into broth and just have a soup.

    Zoodles and turkey meat sauce are another go to for me. Same with taco meat.
  • busyPK
    busyPK Posts: 3,788 Member
    I like to make taco meat and eat it on a taco salad or just regular tacos. Also like stir fry meals. I make some veggie rice/fried rice and have it on hand (rice, carrots, peas, broccoli) then just cut up chicken, cook it, add whatever flavor you like (kung poa sauce for me). Another staple is spinach, egg and cheese "muffins". So easy and yummy and all 3 of my kids will eat it, score!
  • WanderingRivers
    WanderingRivers Posts: 612 Member
    I just eat leftovers from the night before. If I don't have leftovers and it's not payday, I generally will just skip lunch but I'm cheap like that.
  • mccraee
    mccraee Posts: 199 Member
    leftovers are great. dried beans can be marinated with veggies and make very filling lunches over several days. apple & peanut butter is one of my favorites. actually I like pb&j sandwhich on occasion. eggs are cheap & keep me going. whole grains can stretch anything. I get two meals out of a can of tuna (stretched w/ grain as a salad or on a sandwhich). Think seasonally. cook soups on big batches on the weekend and freeze.

    I have a garden so today is was a baggie of greens w/ some dressing from the work frig (I keep a bottle there to spark things up). I also had a leftover sausage from the kids dinner earlier this week.
  • ridiculous59
    ridiculous59 Posts: 2,526 Member
    I often make a big pot of soup on the weekend and that's my lunch for the week. Just buy whatever veggie is on sale and use that as your base. My favourite is carrot ginger orange soup. Yum!! (A Jamie Oliver recipe). Today I made Moroccan spicey chickpea soup. If i'm pressed for time I'll drain and rinse a can of lentils and put them on my salad.
  • kelly_stevens81
    kelly_stevens81 Posts: 79 Member
    Hard boiled eggs are a great bang for your buck. At around $0.10 each you can make egg salad, you can add them to salads, you can eat them with just salt and fruit or veg etc. I also love hummus and carrot sticks or bell peppers as a snack/meal, might look into a veggie hummus wrap, gives good protein and fiber.