Healthy Lunch Ideas

From office lunches to school lunches, keeping your choices healthy.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

Whether you're packing lunches for school or attempting to eat a healthy lunch at work or home, you don't have to be stuck with the same peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day. Many times, people with diabetes find it challenging to eat healthy at lunch hour and daily unhealthy, high-carb choices can lead to high blood glucose and weight gain.

Packing or preparing a lunch can really be a great way to start eating healthier. Below are a few nutritious lunch ideas that taste great and can be made in a few minutes. You may be able to eat more or less carbohydrate. A registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator can help you determine how much carbohydrate is right for you.

Healthy lunches with approximately 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal

  • Turkey or ham sandwich on whole-wheat bread, 1 small piece fruit, cucumbers and broccoli with low-fat dip
  • Green salad with tuna or chicken breast, light salad dressing, 10 whole-wheat crackers, 6 ounces light yogurt
  • Low-fat chicken salad (see recipe below) in a whole-wheat pita pocket, ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese with 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup bean soup, side salad with low-fat dressing, 5 whole-wheat crackers, 1 cup melon
  • Turkey wrap (made with whole-wheat tortilla, lettuce, light mayo, tomato and veggies of choice), ½ cup sugar-free pudding
  • 1 cup tuna macaroni salad (made with tuna packed in water, whole-wheat pasta and light mayo), side salad with light salad dressing, 1 small piece fresh fruit
  • Spinach salad with grilled chicken breast, light salad dressing, 1 cup berries, 6 ounces light yogurt, 1 slice whole-wheat bread
  • Healthy frozen dinner (choose meal with about 30 grams carbohydrate and lowest sodium option too), 1 small piece fresh fruit, side salad with light dressing
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pasta salad with chickpeas and veggies of choice (use light Italian dressing), 1 small piece fresh fruit
  • Asian chicken salad (grilled chicken breast, lettuce, peapods, carrots, ½ cup mandarin orange slices packed in juice, drained), low-fat sesame dressing, 1 medium whole-wheat roll

For more great, lower-carb ideas, check out dLife's Healthy, Low Carb Lunches slideshow.

Healthy Lunches Especially Good for Kids

  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread, 1 cup milk, 15 pretzels
  • English muffin pizza, 15 grapes, granola bar, 1 cup milk
  • Ham and cheese pinwheels (use 10-inch tortilla, fill with ham and cheese, roll, use toothpicks to pin edges and slice into 1-inch pinwheels), 1 apple with peanut butter for dipping, 1 cup milk
  • Homemade healthy "luncheable" (ham, turkey and cheese slices, 10 wheat crackers), 1 cup strawberries, ½ cup sugar-free pudding
  • Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread, celery slices topped with peanut butter and raisins, 6 ounces yogurt, 15 pretzels

Remember, leftover dinners can make quick lunches that can be re-heated the next day. Start changing your habits today -- try this wonderful Toasted Almond Chicken Salad for lunch. Enjoy!

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Last Modified Date: June 17, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...
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