Everyone has a different idea of healthy. Some of us eat almost everything but just keep an eye on calorie intake. When sticking to a calorie budget, lunch can be a struggle. You don't want to break the budget, but also want a lunch that won't leave you hangry an hour after lunchtime.
That's why our 10 easy ideas for 400-calorie lunches are packed with protein and fiber, so they'll keep you full while coming in at (for us small ladies, anyway!) a smart calorie level. Wanna see all these super-quick and smart ideas?
Buy the Lunchbox
We're pretty obsessed with this simple-yet-sturdy bento-style lunch box from LunchBots. We prefer this large size with five distinct compartments, but LunchBots also offers other sizes and configurations like this Small Protein Packer. We also love their tiny Condiment Cups for dressings and dips.
10 Lunch Ideas Under 400 Calories
These are pegged to 400 calories, which is a common calorie budget for many at lunchtime. Obviously this is low for others — if your budget gives you more at lunch, throw in an extra piece of cheese, a piece of grilled chicken, or more fruit.
And no matter what your budget, these low-cal lunch boxes won't leave you hungry in an hour, thanks to yummy bites rich in protein and fiber.
1. Hard-Boiled Egg and Snack Plate
Protein-packed eggs are nice and hearty but low in calories — one egg contains just 78 calories. Round them out with a few healthy snacks to keep things interesting.
- Get a recipe: 2 hard-boiled eggs
- Pack with: 6 Triscuits, 1/4 avocado, 6 cherry tomatoes, baby carrots
2. Peanut Butter Banana Tartine
A tartine is a fancy French word for an open-faced sandwich, but all you need to know is that swiping peanut butter on whole-grain bread and topping it with sliced banana tastes downright delicious.
- Get a recipe: Pack 1 slice of Dave's Killer Bread, 1 1/2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter, and a sliced small banana and assemble just before eating.
- Pack with: 1 (5-ounce) nonfat Greek yogurt cup, cucumber slices
3. Tuna Salad
Crack open a can of tuna, or simply pick up pre-made tuna salad from your grocery store for a classic lunch that will never go out of style.
- Get a recipe: 1/2 cup tuna salad (or buy from your grocery store deli)
- Pack with: 2 Wasa crackers, 1 string cheese, 1 small apple, celery sticks
4. Summer Roll
Summer rolls are light and refreshing, yes, but these ones are also hearty enough for lunch, thanks to protein-packed shrimp. We love to make these ahead and keep them in the fridge wrapped in damp paper towels — or order a batch from the local mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurant and store for a couple days in the fridge.
- Get a recipe: 1 shrimp summer roll, 1 tablespoon creamy peanut sauce (or buy a bottle of store-bought peanut sauce)
- Pack with: 10 roasted almonds, celery sticks, cucumber slices
5. Avocado "Toast"
Whole-grain Wasa crackers make for crunchy beds for mashed avocado.
- Get a recipe: Mash 1/2 avocado onto 2 Wasa crackers
- Pack with: 1 cup red grapes, 1 Babybel cheese, cucumber slices
6. Frittata Cup
Make a batch of individual frittata cups over the weekend and freeze them — then take one out in the morning when you're prepping your lunch box.
- Get a recipe: 1 kale & goat cheese frittata cup
- Pack with: 1/2 cup halved strawberries, 10 pretzel crisps, 1 tablespoon almond butter, bell pepper strips
7. Pesto Chicken Salad
Turn rotisserie chicken into pesto chicken salad and enjoy it with whole-wheat pita triangles.
- Get a recipe: Drizzle 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade basil pesto over 1/2 cup shredded rotisserie chicken.
- Pack with: 1/2 whole-wheat pita (cut into triangles), 6 cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks
8. Turkey and Cheese Bites
Play with your food and pile slices of deli turkey and cheese onto crunchy whole-grain Triscuits.
- Get a recipe: Pack up 3 slices deli turkey and 3 slices deli provolone cheese — eat them on their own or divide among 6 Triscuits.
- Pack with: 1/2 cup watermelon chunks, bell pepper strips
9. Black Bean Tacos
More DIY fun, but this time it's tacos: Black beans have plenty of protein and fiber to ensure these are satisfying.
- Get a recipe: Pack 2 corn tortillas, 1/2 cup black beans, 2 tablespoons jarred salsa, 1 tablespoon store-bought guacamole and assemble just before eating.
- Pack with: Carrot sticks
10. Hummus and Pita Plate
Use whole-wheat pita as a vehicle for creamy hummus. Grilled veggies make it a meal.
- Get a recipe: 1/4 cup homemade hummus (or buy your favorite tub)
- Pack with: 1/2 whole-wheat pita (cut into triangles), 1/2 cup mixed grilled vegetables from the deli, 1 string cheese, celery sticks
Do you keep to calorie goals for lunch? What's your favorite lunch that also hits your goal and keeps you satisfied?