Eating some protein at every meal is an easy way to keep you full and focused, since protein takes a good amount of time to digest. That's especially important at lunch, when you need to give yourself enough fuel to power through the rest of your work or school day. While a classic tuna salad will give you that protein boost, there are countless other ways to get a little more creative with your lunch and still get the protein you need. Here are 20 recipes that are sure to inspire.
Throw in Some Meat
Whether it's chicken, turkey, pork, or fish, each and every type of meat is a great source of protein, and you don't even need much. A three-ounce portion (which is roughly the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards) contains about 20 grams of protein, which is 40 percent of your daily recommended intake (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). A simple turkey and cheese wrap or a hearty chicken and rice salad can give you all the protein you need to power through the rest of your day.
- Chicken Waldorf Salad
- Spicy Carnitas Salad Bowl
- Yotam Ottolenghi's Roast Chicken & 3-Rice Salad
- Warm Potato and Salmon Salad
- Turkey Wraps with Honey Mustard Dip
Put an Egg on It
Don't leave the eggs behind at the breakfast table. Even just one sliced hard-boiled egg tucked into your sandwich or served on top of your salad makes your lunch a high-protein one — it contains six grams of protein, or 12 percent of your daily recommended intake (based on a 2,000 calorie diet).
- Pesto and Egg Baguette Sandwich
- Egg and Avocado Salad on Toast
- Egg, Spinach, and Spelt Salad with Green Garlic Dressing
- Egg Wraps with Ham and Greens
Pile on the Beans and Lentils
Beyond meat and eggs, there are a slew of great protein sources, starting with beans and lentils. Pick your favorite (chickpeas, black beans, white beans, or lentils), and know you're getting a protein boost — a half cup contains about 10 to 20 grams of protein, depending on the variety.
Beans and lentils are incomplete proteins, which means they only contain some of the nine essential amino acids (compounds that help our body build muscle, tissue, and more). But when eaten as part of a balanced diet, you don't have to worry about not getting all the amino acids you need throughout the day.
- Tomato Chickpea Salad
- Spicy Lentil Wraps with Tahini Sauce
- Spiced Lentil, Sweet Potato & Kale Whole Wheat Pockets
- How To Make Baked Falafel in the Oven
- Chilled Black Bean, Feta & Cucumber Salad
- White Bean & Roasted Vegetable Salad
Embrace a Few Other Great Forms of Protein
A classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich happens to be a great high-protein lunch, as peanuts are a good source of incomplete protein — two tablespoons of peanut butter have eight grams of protein, or 16 percent of the recommended intake. Whole-grain quinoa, which also contains eight grams of protein in one cup, is another good vegetarian source of protein. And cottage cheese, the underdog of the dairy world, has as much protein as Greek yogurt.