These Are the Healthiest Lunch Sandwiches You Can Eat
Lunch is often the hardest meal to keep healthy, especially while you’re working, because it’s much easier to heat up last night’s leftover pizza in the microwave than it is to prepare something tasty to store in the fridge. But what does a healthy lunch entail, exactly? Maybe you want a lunch that keeps you full all afternoon or something healthy you can eat over your computer keyboard without fear of destructive spilling. Maybe you want to be able to pick up something on the fly without completely destroying your diet.
Whether you’re eating out, making something at home, or bringing lunch to work, a sandwich is the perfect way to include as many nutrient-rich food groups as possible into a quick, tasty meal. These sandwich options are the healthiest picks no matter where you’re eating this week.
Lunch on the go
Sometimes, eating out or on the go during your lunch break is your only option. Here are the healthiest lunch sandwiches you can order at restaurants close to the office.
1. Dairy Queen: Turkey BLT
The Turkey BLT from DQ is a classic combination of bacon, lettuce, and tomato, supplemented with fresh deli turkey, Swiss cheese, and mayo on a roll. This sandwich is only 550 calories, plus it has 8 grams of saturated fat, 31 grams of protein, and 1,480 milligrams of sodium. That’s a pretty good deal, compared to their half-pound FlameThrower GrillBurger, which has nearly 1,000 calories, 25 grams of saturated fat, and 1,580 milligrams of sodium. You can always ask for this sandwich without mayo to cut back on the salt content, too.
2. McDonald’s: McChicken
McDonald’s isn’t exactly known for their healthy food options, but among their burger and sandwich selections, the McChicken is reasonably healthy. Crispy chicken, lettuce, and mayo on a bun isn’t so bad, especially in such a small size. This sandwich is only 350 total calories, and has 3.5 grams of saturated fat and 600 milligrams of sodium. If you were to order a Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich — basically a super-sized McChicken — you’d end up consuming 570 calories, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 1,050 milligrams of sodium. If a crispy chicken sandwich is what you’re craving, this is one of the healthiest options you’ll find.
3. Panera Bread: Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich
Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich is a meal full of nutritious peppers, feta cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, red onions, and hummus. One of the perks of ordering this sandwich is that you can choose a whole or half serving, depending on how hungry you are. A whole veggie sandwich offers 420 calories, 15 grams of protein, 3 grams of saturated fat, and 1,090 milligrams of sodium. It also has 6 grams of fiber, which means you’re going to feel full soon after finishing your lunch whether you order a whole or half sandwich. You probably won’t face quite as much temptation to make a mid-afternoon trip to the vending machine if you’re full of fresh vegetables.
4. Subway: Oven-Roasted Chicken Sandwich
Subway’s Fresh Fit sub sandwiches are some of the healthiest on-the-go lunch options you’ll find. Their Oven-Roasted Chicken sandwich features roasted chicken, tomato, cucumbers, and green peppers, all on fresh bread. You get all this for just 320 calories, and there are only 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 610 milligrams of sodium. The Chicken Bacon Ranch Melt, on the other hand, would cost you 590 calories and over half the amount of sodium you’re supposed to eat in a single day. If you want a little meat on your sub, this is one of your best to-go options.
5. Arby’s: Smokehouse Brisket
A sandwich loaded with meat and cheese is generally going to have a higher sodium and saturated fat content than most sandwiches. Though that’s not always ideal, you can still enjoy this sandwich every once in awhile. It’s only 600 calories, and has 33 grams of protein, 1,240 milligrams of sodium, and 12 grams of saturated fat. Pair it with a side salad to keep your sodium intake as low as possible.
6. Chick-fil-A: Chicken Salad Sandwich
Not all chicken sandwiches are healthy, but some are much healthier than others. A Chicken Salad Sandwich from Chick-fil-A is a good choice and has 500 calories, 27 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of saturated fat. For the same number of calories, you could also order a deluxe chicken sandwich — but you’d also end up consuming 7 grams of saturated fat. That crispy fried chicken is high in fat, though, so go for a chicken salad filled with grilled chicken, celery, eggs, mayo, and lettuce on toasted wheat bread instead of a bun brushed with butter.
7. Starbucks: Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini
If you’re in the mood for a light lunch, Starbucks has a number of healthy options on their food menu. This panini is 420 calories, and has 6 grams of saturated fat, 11 grams of protein, and 620 milligrams of sodium. It’s a meatless lunch option that offers more protein and less sodium than the majority of the sandwiches you’ll find at Starbucks. It may not keep you full for long, but it’s a much better alternative to the sugar high you’d get from a massive Frappuccino.
8. Jimmy John’s: Slim 4 Turkey Sub
Jimmy John’s offers a variety of sub sandwiches, including a number of Slims — smaller subs with only one type of meat or cheese. A plain turkey sandwich is as simple as it sounds — fresh turkey meat on fresh bread — and it’s one of the healthiest menu items the fast food chain has to offer. This sandwich is 450 calories, and has 29 grams of protein, 1,310 milligrams of sodium, and zero grams of saturated fat. You could order a turkey sandwich with more vegetables and condiments, but it will cost you more fat, calories, and sodium. Sometimes, keeping it simple is the best way to go.
9. Wendy’s: Grilled Chicken Wrap
Wendy’s makes healthy eating much easier. For most signature menu items, there’s a healthier alternative not far down the list. The Grilled Chicken Wrap, for example, features grilled chicken, lettuce, and honey mustard sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla. One wrap is only 270 calories and has 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 20 grams of protein, and just 640 milligrams of sodium. Pair the wrap with a healthy side of yogurt to complete your meal.
Lunch at home
If you have the time and the resources, you might as well build a sandwich that counts. These healthy sandwiches are simple to make, and easy to pair with a side of fruit or homemade potato chips.
10. Egg salad sandwich
Eggs aren’t just for breakfast — you can also eat them as part of a healthy lunch. Go for a combination of hard-boiled eggs, mayo, yellow mustard, and black pepper. And don’t worry about the cholesterol found in the yolks, Organic Facts says eating eggs regularly isn’t as detrimental to your cholesterol levels as you’ve probably been told. In fact, hard-boiled eggs can actually raise the amount of good cholesterol in your blood. Pile your egg salad on top of two pieces of bread and enjoy your nutritious meal.
11. Tuna sandwich
Many people who don’t like fish can usually tolerate canned tuna, which has less of a “fishy” smell and taste than tilapia or salmon. It’s also really good for you. According to Livestrong.com, tuna is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your heart. They can improve your blood pressure and decrease your risk of developing heart disease later in life. A simple sandwich made with tuna, spinach, and whole grain bread is all you need to keep your lunch healthy.
12. Grilled ham, tomato, and cheese sandwich
It’s easy to get into the habit of eating the same things over and over again, especially when you’re in charge of your own kitchen. Sometimes making a healthy lunch at home means getting a little creative. If you’re going to make a grilled cheese sandwich, go the extra mile and add something new to a more traditional recipe. Melted cheese, when paired with whole grain bread, fresh deli ham, and antioxidant-rich tomatoes, can be an excellent and delicious source of protein and essential vitamins.
13. Buffalo chicken panini
If you’re at home and don’t want to take the time to cook a full meal for lunch, this sandwich shouldn’t take long. You can throw together a panini — a toasted sandwich made with Italian bread — in just 30 minutes or less. Using buffalo-style chicken as your main sandwich filling will add a healthy dose of flavor without too many extra condiments. You can also add cheese for even more protein, and vegetables tfor texture and a dose of fiber.
Lunch at work
Skip the mess and the office microwave and take these sandwiches with you to work. Don’t worry — they’ll survive the journey from your kitchen counter to your cubicle (hopefully).
14. Apple turkey croissant
This is the perfect sandwich to bring to work if you need a light, yet filling meal. Apples and turkey are a tastier pair than you think, especially sandwiched between two flaky croissant rolls. Both turkey and chicken breasts are lighter, leaner, and in many ways healthier sources of protein than red meat. If you don’t want fresh apple slices on your sandwich, you can also make your own apple butter at home and use it as a sandwich spread.
15. Avocado Caprese wrap
A Caprese salad is a mixture of basil, tomato, and mozzarella, tossed with an olive oil-based dressing. You can wrap it up inside a few corn or flour tortillas, along with some arugula, to make it easier to eat while working at your desk. The fiber from the tortillas and vegetables will keep you full, and the cheese will provide the protein you need to stay energized throughout the rest of your day. Include some avocado in your recipe to add a little more healthy fat to your wrap.