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Clean Eating Lunch Ideas

author image Kelsey Casselbury
Sarah Collins has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park and formal education in fitness and nutrition. Collins is an experienced blogger, editor and designer, who specializes in nutrition, fitness, weddings, food and parenting topics. She has been published in Arizona Weddings, Virginia Bride and on Gin & Pork and
Clean Eating Lunch Ideas
Whole fruits are part of clean eating. Photo Credit: GANCINO/iStock/Getty Images

When you commit to clean eating, you commit to consuming food that’s as close to its natural state as possible, such as eating whole grains instead of refined grain products or choosing a fresh fish fillet instead of frozen fish sticks. At the same time, "The Everything Eating Clean Cookbook” says to focus on portion sizes, avoid sugars and sweeteners and combine healthy fats, protein and carbs at every meal. Whether you have the luxury of eating at home every day or you have to pack a lunch for school or work, take these ideas to heart to clean up your diet and enjoy a more natural way of eating.

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Winning Salads

Salad with avocado and fresh vegetables.
Salad with avocado and fresh vegetables. Photo Credit: RafalStachura/iStock/Getty Images

It makes sense that a salad would fulfill the very definition of a clean eating lunch, but sometimes the ingredients -- such as bottled salad dressing -- can stray from the intent of the diet. Keep your lunches lively and interesting by thinking outside the box, as a green salad day after day gets tedious. “Eating Well” magazine recommends a Southwestern salad, made with greens, black beans, corn and grape tomatoes, topped with a homemade avocado-lime dressing. If you’re taking this salad to work, pack the greens, toppings and dressing separately to avoid sogginess.

Hearty Grains

Loaf of whole wheat bread.
Loaf of whole wheat bread. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

A grain-based lunch can be filling and hearty, but steer clear of enriched, refined versions such as white pasta, bread or rice. "The Everything Eating Clean Cookbook" suggests whole grains such as whole-wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, bulgur and millet. Take a suggestion from “Eating Well” and combine whole-wheat couscous -- a type of pasta -- with fresh fruit and grilled salmon or chicken for a light lunch. You can also have bulgur with a legume, such as lentils, for a vegetarian lunch that still packs protein and fiber.

Some Like It Hot

Turkey roll ups.
Turkey roll ups. Photo Credit: MSPhotographic/iStock/Getty Images

Sometimes a meal just doesn’t feel like a meal if it’s not hot. One of the simplest clean lunches is eating leftovers from your clean dinner the night before. If your family devoured the meal, though, you can make up a nutritious dish at the beginning of the week and eat it just for lunch. For example, “Clean Eating” magazine suggests pasta roll-ups filled with turkey and spinach. Make them by boiling whole-wheat lasagna noodles and then filling with lean turkey, fresh spinach and tomato sauce. Check for added sugar or salt. Then roll it up.

Kid-Friendly Options

Turkey burger.
Turkey burger. Photo Credit: bit245/iStock/Getty Images

When clean eating becomes a family affair, don’t neglect your child’s preferences while packing his lunch box. “Clean Eating” magazine offers child-friendly lunches that manage to eschew added salt, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients while still appealing to kids' tastes. For example, fill a quesadilla not only with creamy ricotta cheese but also chicken and spinach for a finger food full of protein and fiber. Kids who love burgers might enjoy a slider made with lean ground turkey on a whole-wheat miniature bun.

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