Quick and Healthful Deli Lunch Ideas

Cook’s notes: These ideas are for lunches you can pick up at the deli counter or grocery store. These lunches are well-balanced, quick to assemble, and good to eat. I’ve included high-fiber, low-fat options where possible. No fast food here!

BUILDING BLOCKS for a lunch menu

  • Protein: 1/3 cup hummus, 1/2 cup cooked beans, 3 oz deli chicken, 3 oz tuna, 3 oz deli turkey, or 1 veggie burger
  • Starch: whole-grain bread, 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup cooked potatoes, 1/2 cup pasta, 1 whole-wheat pita bread
  • Vegetable: 1/2 avocado (sliced), 1 cup cooked broccoli, 2 stalks celery, 1 cup cooked spinach, 1 medium sweet potato, 12 baby carrots, or a tossed green salad (1 to 2 cups)
  • Fruit: 4 dried apricots, 4 oz cup applesauce (unsweetened), 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup canned pineapple cubes (drained), 1/2 cup grapes, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup raspberries, 1 pear, 1 apple, 1 nectarine, 1 banana, or 1/2 cup sliced peaches
  • Dairy: 6 to 8 oz fat-free yogurt, 1 light cheese stick, or 1 carton low-fat milk (8 oz)

The Livestrong website says: “Strive to incorporate at least three of the five food groups in your meals, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein.” Another tip from this site: while you are buying your lunch, pick up some extra fruits and veggies in the produce section for a mid-afternoon snack.

1 cooked chicken thigh, 3/4 cup brown rice, and 1 nectarine

1 cup pasta salad, 1 apple, and 1 carton low-fat milk (8 oz)

Sushi: 1 package of veggie sushi, perferably made with brown rice (8 pieces), and 1 piece of fruit

Tuna salad: 2 oz tuna salad, 1 whole-wheat pita, 1 cup steamed broccoli, 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, and 1 cup watermelon chunks

Get about 3 oz (0.2 lbs) sliced chicken or turkey. Then select one of these options:

  • 1/2 cup rice, 1 cup green beans, 6 oz container fat-free Greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1 oz low-fat cheese, 1 side salad (1 to 2 cups mixed greens), 10 black olives, and 1 fruit serving
  • 1/2 cup macaroni salad (preferably low-fat), 12 baby carrots, 6 oz container fat-free Greek yogurt, and 1 fruit serving
  • 10 low-fat whole-wheat crackers, 2 oz sliced low-fat cheese, 1 apple, 12 baby carrots, and 3 gingersnap cookies

1 frozen dinner (aim for 15 g protein and less than 350 calories), 6 to 8 oz carton of fat-free yogurt, and 1 serving fruit. Optional: Add a vegetable, either 1 cup mixed green salad, 1 cup cooked green beans, or 12 baby carrots.

Suggested choices:

  • Amy’s Bowls: Brown Rice and Vegetables
  • Amy’s Kitchen Cheese Enchilada Whole Meal with black beans and corn (15 g protein, 6 g fiber, and 350 calories)
  • Amy’s Kitchen Spinach Feta Pocket Sandwich
  • Chicken entree from Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine Cafe, or Spa Cuisine Classic
  • Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers: Creamy Dill Salmon, Chicken Broccoli Alfredo, or Sesame Chicken
  • Kashi Chicken Pasta Pomodoro or Black Bean Mango
  • Lean Cuisine Chicken Florentine, Chicken Marsala, Chicken Teriyaki, or Spinach Mozzarella Pizza
  • Lean Pockets lunch item

1 turkey or veggie burger patty with 1 slice cheese, 1 cup baby spinach with salad dressing, and 1/2 cup sliced peaches


A 10-oz container of hummus contains about 3 servings. Pick one of these menus:

  • 1/3 cup hummus, 1 oz pita chips, celery and carrot sticks, and 1 piece of fruit
  • 1/3 cup hummus, 1 oz pretzels, 1/2 cup cucumber slices, 1 high-fiber cereal or granola bar, and 1 piece of fresh fruit
  • 1/3 cup hummus, 12 Wheat Thins, 1 apple, 12 baby carrots, and 10 black olives
  • 1/3 cup hummus, 15 baked snack chips, 1 sliced red pepper, 1 large fresh pear, and 1 oz low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup hummus and 1 “Ready Snax snack pac” (4.3 oz) from the produce department with baby carrots, a few seedless grapes, 4 cheese cubes, and some pretzels


  • 2 cups mixed greens, 2 Tbsp shredded cheese, 3 oz deli chicken, grape tomatoes, baby carrots, 2 Tbsp croutons, 1 Tbsp dried cranberries, 1 Tbsp dressing
  • 2 cups mixed greens, 3 oz lean protein (grilled chicken breast, tuna, or chickpeas), avocado pieces, and any other non-starchy vegetables. Add vinaigrette dressing on the side and 1 multi-grain roll.
  • 2 cups dark leafy greens, 1 cup fresh vegetables, 1/2 cup black beans, and 1/4 cup salsa
  • 12 oz hot, broth-based soup, not a cream or cheese soup; 1 serving whole-wheat crackers; 1 apple; 1 low-fat cheese stick
  • 1 cup chili made with ground turkey and beans, 1 oz cheddar cheese, 1 to 2 Wasa crisp-breads, fruit cup (1/3 cup fruit salad)

1 BBQ chicken sandwich (pre-made), 1 cup broccoli salad, 6 to 8 oz carton of fat-free yogurt, and 1 serving fruit

1 turkey sandwich on wheat bread, 2 oz baked chips (individual bag), 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese, and 1 cup of fruit salad.

Get 1 chicken or turkey wrap from the deli (look for a whole-wheat tortilla, 2 to 3 oz lean turkey or chicken, 1 slice low-fat cheese, mustard, sliced tomato, and diced avocado). Then select one of these options:

  • 1 snack-pack of baby carrots and ranch dip from the produce section; 1 piece of fruit
  • 1 cup sliced cucumbers, 6 to 8 oz carton of fat-free yogurt, and 1 pear
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas and 1 pear
  • 6 oz container of fat-free Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup berries
  • 1/2 cup pasta salad and 1/2 cup fruit salad
  • 1 cup canned peaches, sliced (drained and rinsed)

6 oz fat-free Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup granola or trail mix, one box mini raisins, and one piece of fresh fruit

Adapted from material on these websites: