40 Low-Carb Lunch Ideas You (and Your Waistline) Will Love
Following a low-carb diet can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, so you’ve decided to give it a go. (We salute you!) But you still want to eat meals that are quick and easy, not to mention delicious…and we have just the ticket. Presenting 40 low-carb lunch ideas to make your healthy meal plan a breeze.
1. Cold Sesame Cucumber Noodles (14g carbs)
Adding store-bought baked tofu not only makes this recipe the easiest, but adds some extra protein to keep you full until dinnertime.
2. Bruschetta Chicken (6g carbs)
Why bother with breading when your chicken is crispy all by itself? The secret lies in making sure your skillet is hot enough to get everything well browned.
3. Whole30 Chicken Meatballs and Cauliflower Rice with Coconut-Herb Sauce (17g carbs)
Nothing against the traditional spaghetti and meatballs, but this low-carb meatball lunch might be even better. It’s juicy, tender and flavorful, but won’t put you in a carb coma by 3 p.m.
4. Family-Style Chicken Caesar Salad (8g carbs)
Skip the croutons for a dish that clocks in at just 8 grams of carbs per serving. With garlic, olives and Worcestershire in the dressing, we promise you won’t miss a thing.
5. Keto Steak and Blue Cheese Salad for One (8g carbs)
You don’t have to follow a keto diet to enjoy its low-carb benefits—this salad is impossibly quick and easy when you use leftover steak from last night’s dinner.
6. Pesto Zoodles (14g carbs)
Between the sauce and the zoodles, you’re looking at just 14 grams of carbs in one meal. This might be a diet miracle (and a delicious one, at that).
8. 20-Minute Shrimp Scampi Zoodles (16g carbs)
And you thought sticking to a healthy meal plan was going to be time-consuming. Want to make this dish even easier? Pick up some store-bought zucchini noodles and skip all that spiralizing at home.
9. Meal-Prep Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles (28g carbs)
Sure, 28 grams of carbs per serving might seem like a lot (especially compared to others on this list), but think about how many carbs a bowl of angel hair would rack up.
10. Zucchini & Tomato Ragù (7g carbs)
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that zucchini is a (nearly) carbless wonder vegetable. Think of this dish as ratatouille’s elegant Italian cousin.
11. Tomato Salad with Grilled Halloumi and Herbs (8g carbs)
What’s that, a low-carb salad that’s not entirely made of sad, wilted lettuce? Not only does this one feature grilled halloumi cheese (a major selling point for us), but it comes together in ten minutes. Swoon.
12. Meal-Prep Creamy Kale Caesar Salad (8g carbs)
We see your store-bought, $15 kale salad and raise you this homemade version, which is dressed in an irresistible lemony, sour cream dressing. And psst: It costs less than $3 per serving to make.
13. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers (16g carbs)
This isn’t your mother’s chicken salad (no offense, Mom). We’re swapping the mayo for Greek yogurt and sandwich bread for crispy bell peppers. Lunch rut, be gone.
14. Thai Lettuce Wraps (9g carbs)
When it comes to cutting carbs, everyone knows the trusty lettuce wrap trick. What they don’t know is that the spicy flavors of Thai cuisine are a genius way to take lunch from standard to exciting.
15. Hemp-Crusted Baked Chicken Tenders (16g carbs)
If chicken tenders were a food group, they’d be our all-time favorite. So the fact that a diet-friendly version exists is music to our ears.
16. Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry (11g carbs)
If you can carve out 20 minutes on Sunday night for meal-prep, you’ll be on your way to a healthy lunch all week long. Who even needs takeout?
18. Summer Chipotle Chicken Cobb Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette (11g carbs)
There’s something about a cobb salad that makes us feel fancy even when we’re eating at our desk. This one has strawberries, avocado and corn for a little something extra.
19. Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken and Shredded Brussels Bowls (19g carbs)
Brussels sprouts in a stir-fry? Why the heck not? They’re healthier than rice, plus the way they get all caramelized around the edges is… *kisses hands like a chef.*
20. Quiche with Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Crust (15g carbs)
Ditch the traditional crust and you’ve got yourself a low-carb slice of heaven. We’re filling our version with kale, but if you’re in the mood for a fridge cleanout, any green will work.
21. Mini Eggplant Pizzas (13g carbs)
You’ve heard of cauliflower pizza crust…but what about eggplant pizza crust? You can easily make these babies the night before, then heat them up the next day for a satisfying low carb lunch.
22. Keto Pasta with Lemon-Kale Chicken (9g carbs)
Ever heard of shirataki noodles? They’re made of yams, high in fiber, low in calories and they’re the secret ingredient that makes this pasta dish so low-carb.
23. Mediterranean Tuna Salad (12g carbs)
Forget the heavy mayo dressing. This upgraded tuna salad is tossed in a light, red wine vinaigrette that will have your coworkers jealous that they didn’t bring tuna to the office.
24. Kung Pao Chicken (17g carbs)
We’ve found proof that a homemade version of a takeout staple can be healthy, quick and easy at the same time. This recipe uses a single skillet and takes only ten minutes of your time.
25. Baked Sesame-Ginger Salmon in Parchment (21g carbs)
Our motto, forever and always? Make it ahead. This 30-minute dish has minimal cleanup, too, so you won’t even mind a little weekend meal-prep.
26. Sheet-Pan Lemon Butter Veggies and Sausage (18g carbs)
A hands-off dish that’s low-carb with just one pan? This one checks all the boxes. And because it makes six servings, you’ll have enough for the week and then some.
27. Cold Lemon Zoodles (8g carbs)
Zucchini noodles come to the rescue yet again, and we’re not mad about it—especially since this versatile, light lunch comes together in only 25 minutes.
28. Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower (8g carbs)
Oh hey, lunch of our dreams. We’ll be eating you every day for the rest of forever.
29. Zoodle Stir-Fry (18g carbs)
Why do we love stir-fries? Their versatility and lightning-fast cook time, for starters. Plus, this dish is packed with so many veggies, you won’t even miss the rice.
30. Za’atar Chicken Bowls with Tomato and Cucumber Raita (5.5g carbs)
If you thought watching your carbohydrate intake meant eating bland steamed veggies and plain chicken, we present this Middle Eastern-inspired bowl to change your mind.
31. Cauliflower Fried Rice with Crispy Tofu (21.5g carbs)
Oh, cauliflower. What would we do without you? Certainly not make this 15-minute meal-prep recipe…or show it off to everyone in the office.
32. Zucchini Noodle Pad See Ew (22g carbs)
This healthy spin on a Thai favorite swaps wide strips of zucchini noodles for the traditional rice ones. They’re tossed in a gingery, garlicky sauce that we’ll happily eat it in place of gloppy, heavy takeout.
33. 20-Minute Paleo Egg Roll Bowls (8g carbs)
If you’re not yet on the egg roll bowl train (it’s a thing), this easy meal is the filling of the Chinese finger food staple. All of the eating and none of the assembly? Yes, please.
34. Honey-Mustard Sheet Pan Salmon (23g carbs)
Not into packing fish in your lunchbox? This simple sheet-pan recipe will convert you into a seafood-for-lunch person for sure. (The key is not to heat it up in the microwave.)
35. 40-Minute Saag Paneer (14g carbs)
This Indian staple is loaded with yummy spices, and the leftovers get better and more flavorful the longer they sit in the fridge.
36. Vegan Keto Coconut Curry (10g carbs)
Plant-based? Check. Keto-friendly? Check, check. We knew there was a reason we started this diet.
37. Cumin Beef Stir-Fry (10g carbs)
This Sichuan-style dish is spicy, aromatic and surprisingly easy to make. All you need is a searing hot wok (or skillet) and an appetite.
39. Keto Chicken Pesto Burgers (3g carbs)
We’ve found the definition of “no bun, no problem,” and it’s these protein-packed burgers. Serve ’em on a bed of spinach and don’t forget the cheese.
40. 15-Minute Skillet Pepper Steak (12g carbs)
Give us a skillet and we’ll give you a reason to be excited for tomorrow’s lunch. This low-calorie dish takes less time to make than it does to order delivery.