Enjoy a light lunch under 200 calories with our selection of low calorie lunch ideas. From crushed new potatoes to chicken miso soup, from rainbow salad to a simple stir fry.
Perfect if you're on the 5:2 diet (opens in new tab) or looking to lose weight, our lunches are all under 200 calories. These mouthwatering low calorie meals (opens in new tab) are not only low in calories but are packed full of nutritional ingredients too. The veg in these dishes count towards your 5-a-day and provide you with a variety of vitamins and minerals. The protein from the chicken, prawns, or Quorn for example ensures you're kept fuller for longer, powering you through to dinner time.
“If you’re a fan of options such as pasta salad or tuna pasta for lunch, try spiralised veg instead. This can drastically reduce your overall calorie intake and carbs for those on low carb diets. Vegetables such as courgette, butternut squash, and carrot can work well for these types of lunches,“ says Mina Khan, founder of nutraceutical company Formulate Health (opens in new tab), who has been providing nutritional advice for over 25 years.
“Lean meats such as white fish, turkey, and chicken can be great for those looking to lose weight. They provide a great source of protein whilst being very low in fat and much lower in calories than other meat sources. And instead of using sauces, dips, and dressings, try marinating your vegetables and meat in a range of your favourite combinations of herbs and spices. This is a great way to cut down on calories, added sugar, and salt.”
Low calorie lunch ideas
1. Quorn rice bowl
Calories: 177 | Fat: 2.3g | Protein: 11.1g | Carbs: 26.5g
Quorn is much lower in fat and in calories than meat which makes it the perfect healthy option for lunch. Mixed with tender beans and soft spinach leaves, this soup recipe is just 177 calories per serving and takes just 20 mins to make.
"This fermentation process involved with making Quorn results in a very high protein content, which helps to support growth and to repair and strengthen muscles and bones. Every 100g of Quorn also contains 6g of fiber, making it a really filling meat alternative. This recipe also contains ginger which is fantastic anti-inflammatory food, helping to reduce various types of inflammation in the body, making it perfect for sufferers of autoimmune disease or even those fighting a cold," says Mina Khan.
Get the recipe: Quorn rice bowl (opens in new tab)
2. Crushed new potatoes and shoots
Calories: 158 | Fat: 8.8g | Protein: 5.1g | Carbs: 14.2g
Serve chunks of crushed new potatoes along with gooey, protein-packed quail eggs and plenty of greens that will keep you full until dinner time. This salad is best made and eaten on the same day to keep the flavour as fresh as possible.
Quail eggs contain a high amount of vitamin A, beneficial to eye health preventing cataracts and other vision issues. These eggs are however high in fat but ‘good’ fat, similar to avocado. Eat them in moderation particularly if you’re watching your cholesterol.
Get the recipe: Crushed new potatoes and shoots (opens in new tab)
3. Steak, chicory and orange salad
Calories: 180 | Fat:9.5g | Protein: 10.8g | Carbs: 12.4g
This salad recipe combines tender steak slices with a tangy orange and Dijon mustard dressing – handfuls of fresh rocket and red onion add to the flavour too. This recipe is also carb-free with no bread, pasta, or rice to serve to reduce the calorie significantly.
Swap the steak for an even lower calorie and fat option of lean chicken, turkey, or prawns. For the vegetarian version, remove the steak. You could even replace it with Quorn pieces instead.
Get the recipe: Steak, chicory and orange salad (opens in new tab)
4. Spring vegetable soup
Calories: 130 | Fat:1.4g | Protein: 10.6g| Carbs: 19.3g
One of our favourite low calorie lunch ideas, this spring vegetable soup is loaded with delicious fresh veggies such as leeks, carrot, and pak choi. A fresh, homemade stock makes all the difference in this recipe. You can make it in advance store it in the fridge and just reheat it when needed.
"Spring greens, pak choi, and celery are all foods loaded with vitamin C, making them excellent antioxidants for the body and promoting the natural growth and regrowth of body tissue. Vitamin C is also a great immunity booster, alongside helping your body metabolise proteins and other minerals. Lunches such as spring vegetable soup, therefore, have a knock-on effect on your health, helping to improve and maintain many aspects of body functionality."
Get the recipe: Spring veg soup (opens in new tab)
5. Chicken pittas
Calories: 176 | Fat:2.8g | Protein: 14.2g | Carbs: 22.7g
The low-fat natural yogurt, wholemeal pittas, and skinless chicken keep the calorie count down in this recipe. With just 176 calories per serving, they’re a perfect lunch-box filler and packed with crisp lettuce leaves and juicy cherry tomatoes, which will count towards your five-a-day.
Choosing skinless chicken is a great way to keep the fat count low. Swap white pitta at lunchtime for wholemeal pitta instead as it’s a much healthier option.
Get the recipe: Chicken pittas (opens in new tab)
6. Continental crushed potato salad
Calories: 179 | Fat: 12g | Protein: 2.2g | Carbs: 15g
Gherkins, capers, and mustard will transform your potato salad into a continental treat that is full of flavour. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to two days.
Despite this recipe being high in carbs, the average portion of new potatoes contains around 65 calories which is a great low option if you’re on a calorie-counting diet. Plus fibrous potatoes will keep you fuller for longer as they release energy slowly.
Get the recipe: Continental crushed potato salad (opens in new tab)
7. Leek and potato soup
Calories: 105 | Fat: 4.6g | Protein: 3.4g | Carbs: 13.2g
The tangy leeks and soft potatoes work perfectly together in this recipe. At just 134 calories per portion, you could serve this classic soup with a slice of wholemeal bread.
"Leeks are a kind of allium, classified within the onion family. They have a mild onion flavour and pair nicely with fiber-rich potatoes for a healthy, filling soup. Leeks contain high levels of flavonoids, a type of phytonutrient full of antioxidants that protect the body against unstable molecules (free radicals) produced by cell metabolism. Leek and potato soup is both filling and supportive for a range of functions in the body such as aiding digestion, curbing cravings, and even reducing the risk of diabetes," adds Mina.
Get the recipe: Leek and potato soup (opens in new tab)
8. Creamed corn salad
Calories: 178 | Fat: 10.9g | Protein: 5g| Carbs: 15.3g
This creamed corn salad is super quick and easy to make in just 10 minutes. Made with sweetcorn, cream, and shallots, this warming salad is perfect if you’re a fan of sweetcorn. Counting towards your five-a-day, serve this salad with fresh leaves and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds before serving.
Sweetcorn has a high fiber content and helps aid digestion as well as decreases the risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It’s a great veg for keeping you fuller for longer and stopping any unwanted snacking during meals. Sweetcorn is also relatively low in calories and fat.
Get the recipe: Creamed corn salad (opens in new tab)
9. Fruity prawn cocktail
Calories: 156 | Fat: 1.3g | Protein: 21.3g | Carbs: 16.4g
This delicious fruity prawn salad takes just 10 minutes to make and serves four. At just 156 calories per serving this salad is a great, low calorie lunch option packed with protein-enriched prawns.
Adding apples and grapes to a classic prawn cocktail will give your lunchtime a surprisingly fruity twist as well as boost your five-a-day count. The traditional mayo sauce is replaced with a fat-free fromage frais dressing to lighten the calorie.
Get the recipe: Fruity prawn cocktail (opens in new tab)
10. Warm rainbow cabbage salad
Calories: 149 | Fat: 11.6g | Protein: 3g | Carbs: 8g
This side salad is actually filling enough to have for a light lunch thanks to the additions of protein-rich pumpkin seeds. Mustard and fennel ensure the cabbage is bursting with flavour.
Mina says; "Cabbage is a staple food that has been a part of the human diet for over 3,000 years. Behind its bright colours are health benefits just as attractive as its leaves, with high levels of both vitamin C and vitamin K. Vitamin K is a natural assistant to blood coagulation, encouraging your body to heal wounds quickly and efficiently. On top of this, vitamin C helps to protect cells from damage and maintain the health of your skin, bones, and blood vessels."
Get the recipe: Warm rainbow cabbage salad (opens in new tab)
11. Tarka Dhal
Calories: 199 | Fat: 5.4g | Protein: 10.3g | Carbs: 28.4g
This dish is a creamy, Indian classic which is usually served as a side dish but is more than tasty enough to be a lunch on its own. Combine with freshly prepared carrot, celery, or cucumber sticks to dip in. This recipe uses only a handful of ingredients so it’s no wonder it’s so low in calories.
The split chickpeas are high-protein legumes and are considered low calorie filling foods. They have a range of health benefits including aiding weight management, reducing disease risk, and improving digestion.
Get the recipe: Tarka Dhal (opens in new tab)
12. Bean and pepper salad
Calories: 137 | Fat: 10.8g | Protein: 2.3g | Carbs: 7.4g
One of our best low calorie lunch ideas. Get a good healthy dose of your five-a-day by making this veg-packed bean and pepper salad. The simple balsamic and oil dressing is given a flavoursome kick by the addition of tangy ginger.
"Green beans are high in folate, a type of vitamin B needed to properly form red blood cells in the body. Folate also helps to protect unborn babies from birth defects in the womb. Green beans are also well known for their high vitamin A content, which is both beneficial for eye health and helps to support and maintain the body’s immune system. When combined with red peppers, which are also high in vitamin A, these vegetables are an excellent option for strengthening the immune system and providing a wide variety of vitamins without the need for more calories," says nutritionist Mina Khan.
Get the recipe: Bean and pepper salad (opens in new tab)
13. Spanish tortilla with artichokes
Calories: 127 | Fat: 6.1g | Protein: 5.9g | Carbs: 12g
An egg is a great source of protein and protein is ideal if you’re trying to be healthy – it will keep you fuller for longer meaning you’ll snack less between meals. This delicious recipe uses six eggs in total along with plenty of tender artichokes and is finished with a sprinkle of parsley for a flavoursome finish.
Artichokes are low in fat but rich in fiber, folate and are an antioxidant meaning they’re great for supporting your immune system. They are considered one of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables.
Get the recipe: Spanish tortilla with artichokes (opens in new tab)
14. Chicken miso soup
Calories: 143 | Fat: 3.5g | Protein: 22.6g | Carbs: 5.4g
This recipe only uses seven ingredients and takes just 10 mins to cook. At 143 calories per serving, miso soup is a great choice if you’re watching your figure as it’s made from mostly water.
Shiitake mushrooms and tangy ginger add a great flavour to this Japanese classic along with miso paste – which you can pick up in most supermarkets. Miso is a rich source of probiotic bacteria that can help to support immune functions as well as help fight infections.
Get the recipe: Chicken miso soup (opens in new tab)
15. Prawn salad with pickled cucumber
Calories: 117 | Fat: 5.3g | Protein: 14.5g | Carbs: 3.3g
The tangy prawn salad dressing is made from scratch with a handful of ingredients including garlic, chillies, lime juice and sesame oil. Add noodles to make this dish even more filling.
Mina says; "Prawns are frequently used in low calorie diets as a great source of protein, but they can also be wonderful providers of iron, calcium and B vitamins. While they do contain small amounts of fat, they are very low in saturated fat, a kind of fat that raises your cholesterol levels and can eventually cause blood clots in the body. Prawns will also provide you with calcium, which is necessary for healthy, strong bone growth and for promoting the functionality of the heart and nerves."
Get the recipe: Prawn salad with pickled cucumber (opens in new tab)
16. Spanish style prawns
Calories: 169 | Fat: 8.9g | Protein: 7.5g | Carbs: 8.7g
This delicious Spanish-style prawns recipe has a wonderfully spicy kick. Garlic, sundried tomatoes, and fennel infuse this dish with flavour. Prepare this low calorie lunch in just 10 minutes.
Prawns are a great source of protein ensuring your kept fuller for longer between meals. They are also low in fat too at just 0.5g of fat per 2oz serving. Choosing to make sauce from scratch is also a great way to keep the calorie, fat, and salt down as the majority of readymade sauces tend to have high salt content.
Get the recipe: Spanish-style prawns (opens in new tab)
17. Chinese vegetable chow mein
Calories: 195 | Fat: 6.6g | Protein: 6.1g | Carbs: 27.1g
Cook this Chinese vegetable chow mein in just five minutes at just 195 calories per portion. This low calorie lunch brings oyster mushrooms, Tenderstem broccoli, and red pepper together to make one mouthwatering dish.
Bulking a stir-fry-up with veg is a great way to not only up your five-a-day count, but keep the calorie and fat count low. Limit yourself to just one tablespoon of soy sauce so you can keep the salt content low, or choose a lower salt brand. The groundnut oil and rice vinegar also add to the flavour to the dish.
Get the recipe: Chinese vegetable chow mein (opens in new tab)
18. Weight Watchers butternut squash and spinach tortilla
Calories: 196 | Fat: 7.6g | Protein: 14.1g | Carbs: 19g
This chunky tortilla is a meal in itself. Squeezing its way onto the low calorie lunch ideas list at 196 calories per portion. A peppery rocket salad would make a lovely accompaniment would increase your five-a-day count.
The butternut squash is an excellent source of fiber. It’s also packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamins such as vitamin C and minerals such as zinc and sodium. The fiber in butternut squash supports your digestion system aiding digestion and preventing constipation too making it a particularly healthy option.
Get the recipe: Butternut squash and spinach tortilla (opens in new tab)