Lunch Ideas Under 400 Calories
Keeping lunchtimes fresh and exciting doesn’t have to take too much effort. Whether you’re in the mood for a light salad, a warming soup or a crunchy toastie, there’s always a way to turn basic ingredients into a luscious lunch you can’t wait to take your break for.
We’ve put together a tasty list of dishes we find ourselves coming back to time and time again. From creamy pasta salads to cheesy oven-baked wraps, our slimming-friendly ideas take midday meals to a whole new level – you won’t believe they’re all under 400 calories!
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Salads for lunch
It wouldn’t be right to talk about lower calorie lunch ideas without mentioning the ultimate slimming-friendly staple: the salad. While we wouldn’t blame you for getting bored of eating the same old leafy greenery every day, there’s no excuse for that with drool-worthy recipes like our Spicy Braised Beef Salad on the menu.
A combination of succulent braised beef and crunchy fresh vegetables, we could easily enjoy this marinated medley of irresistible flavour multiple times per week (luckily, it keeps nicely in the fridge for up to 3 days!).
Coated in a juicy homemade marinade of store cupboard herbs and spices, we slow cook our beef in the oven until it’s fall-off-the-fork tender. Trust us, the results are so worth it!
If ‘creamy’ and ‘cheesy’ are words you’d use to describe your ideal lunch, look no further than our Chicken and Bacon Caesar Salad.
Drizzled with a homemade Caesar-style dressing, it’s every bit as zesty and garlicky as restaurant versions, for only 201 calories per serving.
You can keep this salad in the fridge for a couple of days if you want to, but it definitely tastes better freshly made!
Preparing a homemade salad dressing can transform dull vegetables into a fragrant, flavour-filled lunch in a flash (You can read more of our top tips on how to make your own salad dressings here!).
For our Tuna Niçoise Pasta Salad, we’ve cut the calories significantly by using fat-free yoghurt, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and honey to create an irresistibly tangy dressing. The flavours complement the olives so well!
Tupperware-friendly and ultra-filling, this dish is a winner when you’re in need of heartier fuel for the day ahead.
Whenever someone tells us they don’t like salad, we get them to try our Greek Pasta Salad (they always change their mind!).
A holiday in a bowl, we had fun putting together all of our favourite Greek-inspired ingredients for this recipe. We’re talking fresh salad leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, salty black olives and an oh-so-indulgent lemony feta dressing. Need we say more?
You can experiment with different types of pasta for this recipe, but we’d recommend using a smaller pasta shape like fusilli, penne or conchiglie.
If that wasn’t enough salad-based inspiration for you, have a look through our top salad recipes.
Soups for lunch
On chillier days, there’s no shortage of comfort when there’s a nutritious winter warmer in your soup flask. A trusty insulated food flask that will keep your soupy creations toasty is heaven sent when you’re on the go.
Soups don’t come more classic than our garlicky Cream of Tomato Soup and Croutons. This dairy-free dream is so luxuriously creamy in texture, it’s hard to believe there’s not a pot of cream involved. We’ve blitzed together tinned tomatoes, veggies and butter beans to ramp up the silkiness, without losing out on nutrition.
Too good to be just for lunch time, spare freezer-friendly portions of our rich, tomatoey soup will work just as well as a veggie-loaded pasta sauce or pizza base. How thrifty is that?
When your batch-cookable soups are freezer bound, add a quick label that tells you what’s inside and when you cooked it. Nothing’s better for your budget than keeping the grab-and-go lunches in your freezer organised!
Another Pinch of Nom twist on a soup menu staple, our luminous Cream of Spinach and Rocket Soup definitely stands out from the crowd. We’ve blended high fibre spinach, peppery rocket, onions and potatoes to create a hug in a bowl.
Thanks to the melty Parmesan cheese and zesty lemon juice, even the fussiest eaters can forget that they’re getting their greens.
What could be better than chicken soup? Adding a dash of Mediterranean inspiration, of course! Our Greek Style Lemon and Rice Chicken Soup uses cooked chicken and arborio rice in a lemony, garlicky broth to ramp up the indulgence (it’s still only 297 calories per bowlful!).
We wouldn’t recommend reheating this recipe if you use leftover cooked chicken, so it’s best enjoyed on a day where you can make it fresh.
Three words: Cauliflower Cheese Soup. A cheesy masterpiece, it tastes far too scrummy to be just 210 calories per portion. We’ve sprinkled crispy bacon bits on top to add a moreish, savoury crunch.
You can find the full recipe for our cheesiest soup yet, alongside 25 other exclusive crowd-pleasing dishes, in our Family Meal Planner.
Grab a copy to write down your week-by-week meals here.
Wraps and toasties for lunch
There’s no such thing as a boring lunch break with a melty cheese toastie on the menu. While we love the simplicity of a good old-fashioned Caramelised Onion Cheese Toastie, the order of the day when we’re feeling brave has to be our Cheesy Chilli Toastie.
The added layers of heat from chilli powder and fresh chillies makes it all the more satisfying. Why not make your toasted lunch break extra-special with a dip in our Sweet Chilli Sauce?
A sandwich toaster will get you the meltiest results the quickest, but homemade toasties are always just as good fresh from the oven grill.
We’re not knocking sandwiches, but we love a wrap for lunch when we’re looking for a fresh way to enjoy our favourite sandwich fillings.
The tastiest way to brighten up a blue Monday in an instant, we can’t think of a better place for the leftovers from your Sunday dinner than our Yorkshire Pudding Wrap. Once you’ve tried beef, onion and mushrooms all wrapped in our homemade Yorkshire pudding batter, you’ll never go back to bread!
Ready in 10 minutes, you can have this surefire hit put together faster than you can say ‘winter warmer’. Bring on the Gravy!
How good does a wrap filled with taco-seasoned beef, homemade guacamole, melty cheese and crunchy crushed tortilla chips sound? That’s exactly what you get with our Mexican Style Crunch Wrap.
A fiesta of our favourite fiery flavours, it’s a Mexican-inspired feast you can have wrapped up and on your plate in 20 minutes. We’ve kept things slimming friendly by preparing our guacamole and seasoning our beef from scratch using simple, fresh ingredients. You need to try it!
Cheeseburger for lunch, anyone? You’d be forgiven for thinking cheeseburger flavours are a no-go when you’re eating slimming-friendly food, but our Baked Cheeseburger Wrap comes in at just 275 calories per slice.
We’ve put together all of the best bits from a classic cheeseburger (gherkins included!) and oven-baked them inside a crispy, golden tortilla wrap bun.
Take it with you on the go or pop it in the freezer for lunch another day. Imagine how excited you’ll be for lunchtime with a cheeseburger-loaded wrap in your tupperware!
What’s for lunch tomorrow?
Have our slimming-friendly lunch ideas left you feeling inspired? We’d absolutely love to see what you make over in our Facebook group! We have almost 1 million community members sharing recipe ideas, posting pictures and swapping motivational stories.
If seeing what everyone else has been making lately gets you inspired, our Pinch of Nom Gallery is the ideal spot. We love giving out SWAG at random to say thank you for your submissions – don’t miss out!