Sure, breakfast gets all the glory for being the “most important” meal. But when it comes to getting us through a busy day, lunch deserves some credit, too. “Having consistent meals throughout the day helps provide us with the necessary energy to go about our daily activities,” says registered dietitian Brittany Modell, MS, RD, CDN. A balanced lunch, she adds, ideally includes a mix of quality protein, carbs, and healthy fats. *
That said, one of the main reasons a nutritious lunch might get overlooked is sheer convenience—as we’re powering through the work week, there might be little room to prepare a meal mid-day. That’s why we tapped two RDs to share their go-to healthy lunches for those days when they’re strapped for time. Browse their healthy picks below, which include make-ahead options—just whip up your favorites on a Sunday for a week’s worth of meals. (Future you will thank you.)
Craving something warm and cozy? Lentil soup makes an ideal vegan lunch that will keep you satiated until dinner and requires minimal prep time. “Beans and lentils are an excellent source of protein and fiber, which will help you stay fuller for longer,” Modell says. Case in point: One cup of beans provides roughly 15 grams of protein and around 15 grams of fiber. *
Add more color, nutrients, and flavor to your lentil soup with spices and veggies such as kale, spinach, carrots, and onions. If you’re pressed for time, grabbing a canned or boxed soup is also an option. Modell recommends opting for reduced-sodium or low sodium if you do.
If you’re feeling ambitious, whip up a side salad: Toss some greens such as arugula into a bowl along with your favorite veggies (i.e., bell peppers, radishes, or butternut squash), and dress it with a balsamic vinaigrette you can make yourself with a little olive oil.