Everyone knows breakfast is an important meal. But what you eat midday is just as critical. Packing your lunch with protein-rich foods can help you stay full and satisfied—and avoid that annoying afternoon slump. Here are some easy lunch ideas to help you get more protein. You should aim for 25 to 30 grams of protein at lunch.
Turkey & Apple Sandwich
The classics are a classic for a reason: Four slices of turkey from the deli can deliver up to 9 grams of protein. Go for a low-sodium option and use whole-wheat bread. Top with sliced green apples, cheddar cheese, spinach and whole-grain mustard.
Another name for boiled soybeans, edamame are popular appetizers at Japanese restaurants. They’re also high in protein: there’s 8 grams in half a cup. Toss shelled edamame with black beans, corn, diced bell pepper and chopped red onion, drizzle with lime juice and a little olive oil, and you’ve got a tasty salad.
Nuts, Cheese & Crackers
Too busy for lunch? You can snack on nuts—choose peanuts, walnuts, almonds or pistachios—and still get plenty of protein. A one ounce handful has at least 4 grams of protein. Nuts are also a great source of fiber, vitamins and heart-healthy fats. Include whole-wheat crackers, cheese and a piece of fruit to round out this healthy and quick midday meal.
Yogurt Fruit Smoothie
Smoothies are great for a fast breakfast—and lunch. Blend low-fat or nondairy milk with half a cup of Greek yogurt along with fruits and veggies of your choosing, like banana, spinach and strawberries.
Tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays. Enjoy leftover tacos for lunch and you’ll get 25 grams of protein for every 3 ounces of lean ground beef. Top with salsa, cheese and avocado for more flavor and healthy vitamins.
Get double the health benefits with quinoa. These whole grains are high in protein—one cup has up to 8 grams—and also high in fiber. For an easy hot or cold lunch, top quinoa with diced chicken, roasted vegetables and slivered almonds along with your favorite salad dressing.
Research shows that beans can really help you feel full. That’s probably because half a cup can have up to 7 grams of protein. Make your own simple bean soup with broth, onions, carrots and celery. Or add chickpeas to vegetable stew or white beans to your chicken noodle soup for an extra protein kick.
Egg & Avocado Toast
This very trendy breakfast can also be a protein-packed lunch. There’s 6 grams of protein per egg. Avocados can help curb hunger throughout the day. Mash half an avocado with olive oil and lime juice, spread on two slices of whole-wheat toast and top with a fried or poached egg.
Canned salmon (in water) is high in protein—up to 17 grams for every 3 ounces. It also has heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Mix salmon with olive oil, lemon juice and capers and put inside a whole-wheat wrap. Make it creamy with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, also high in protein.
Tofu, a curd made from soybeans, can deliver plenty of protein. There’s up to 11 grams in a half a cup. Bake it and then toss it on your favorite vegetables and salad dressing.
Spinach & Chicken Salad
These darky leafy greens add vitamins, minerals and protein to your lunch, with 1 gram of protein per cup. For a healthy salad, toss spinach with sliced strawberries, avocado and balsamic vinaigrette. Get more protein with slices of grilled chicken and slivered almonds.
Shrimp Fried Rice
Skip the take-out version and make your own. You’ll save on calories and get more protein—3 ounces of shrimp have 20 grams. Sauté chopped onion and garlic and then add cooked shrimp, brown rice, green peas and scrambled egg. Stir in sesame oil and soy sauce for a homemade treat.