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Phoenix Forward

5 healthy lunch ideas for busy people

Woman enjoying healthy sandwich

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but let’s not forget about lunch. It’s the meal that gets you through your tasks and the one that gives you a break from the monotony of the workday. A proper lunch, according to Thad Phillips, personal trainer at the University of Phoenix Rev Fitness Center, will help prevent overeating that occurs later in the day.

“Overeating late in the day or at night will contribute to fat gain more than any other meal,” says Phillips.

Sadly, packing a good lunch requires a finite resource: time. “If you prepare your lunch the night before,” explains Phillips, “you will be less likely to skip the meal or go out to lunch. Going out to lunch generally will be higher in calorie content and cost more money.”

Here, five lunch options that require nothing more than a fridge and a microwave and beat a frozen meal any day of the week.


To most of us, a sandwich seems like a no-brainer when it comes to lunch. But not all sandwiches are made equal. Make sure you choose whole-grain bread. You can even try a sprouted-grain bread, which is a raw food. Then, add a small chicken breast or a can of tuna and top it off with two tablespoons of light mayo, mustard or BBQ sauce. If possible, garnish your sandwich with fresh vegetables like lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, carrots and more. Vegetables are low in calorie content and are great for your body.
Tip: Throw in a piece of fruit to complete the meal.

Rice bowl

You have choices: Either make the rice the night before, or look for frozen rice in your supermarket that are ready to eat after just three minutes in the microwave. Cut up a cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breast and add two tablespoons of teriyaki sauce. For a vegetarian option, think about using tofu instead of chicken; for health benefits, consider brown rice instead of white.
Tip: You can also add vegetables, from blanched broccoli to steamed mushrooms.


Eating pasta for lunch means a little preparation the night before. The best thing to do is to make a large amount of pasta for dinner, and then eat the leftovers for lunch. For lunch, combine one cup of cooked pasta, 4 to 5 ounces of lean ground beef and some marinara sauce to taste. Adding cheese makes the meal more delicious, but it also adds unnecessary fat and calories. If you’re not into red meat, feel free to substitute chicken or fish for beef.
Tip: For extra health benefits, try using whole-wheat pasta.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is a healthy and delicious light option for when you’re on the go and don’t have time for a production. Mix half a cup of low-fat cottage cheese with healthy additions such as fruit, almonds or granola, all of which add substance.
Tip: Make it savory by mixing in chives instead of fruit and nuts.

Southwest wrap

Wraps are great, low-carb alternative to sandwiches. Take one large whole-wheat tortilla and fill it with four to five ounces of lean ground beef cooked with a taco-seasoning packet. You can also substitute the beef for a chicken breast or deli meat like turkey or ham.
Tip: Add salsa and avocado for added flavor and nutrients.