By Joe Wilkes

Lunchtime’s a real danger zone for most people trying to lose weight and keep their bodies—not to mention their wallets—in shape. For most of us, lunch happens somewhere in or around the workplace, which means looming nutritional and financial disasters if there isn’t a brown-bagging strategy in place. If I don’t bring my lunch to the Beachbody® office, there are always the siren songs of the nearby McDonald’s®, KFC®, and Wienerschnitzel® to reduce my bank account and expand my waistline. Or I could take the marginally healthier approach of buying the $10 salads from the lunch guy who shows up at the office, yet another semi-delicious path to financial ruin.

Tuna and White Bean Salad

The best choice is to make your own lunch. You control what goes into the meal and what goes into your body. Instead of the artificial colors, flavors, and various incarnations of high fructose corn syrup you get from the local fast food chain, you can fill your plate with fresh whole foods that will energize your body and save you a ton of money. As my grandfather used to say, there’s no point putting your paycheck through your stomach. So here are some healthy ideas to get you through the day with high energy and low cost.  Great options to help you lose weight.

Note: All nutritional information is for one serving.

Sunday: Tuna and White Bean Salad

Tuna and White Bean SaladOn Sundays, I like to make a big batch of soup or a salad that will keep for a few days, so I have leftovers for the week. While it’s noble to attempt to prepare a fresh lunch from scratch every evening or morning, schedules and snooze alarms can sidetrack the best-laid plans. It’s nice to have a big bowl of something in the fridge as a backup, so that if I sleep through the alarm bell in the morning, I won’t drive through the Taco Bell® in the afternoon. This recipe’s a great source of protein and fiber, and if you want to improvise, it’s a great way to use up leftover veggies in the fridge. This meal is good for up to 2 days after you make it.

  • 2 6-oz. cans of water-packed tuna (reduce olive oil amount if using oil-packed tuna)
  • 2 cups canned white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup canned or jarred artichoke hearts, chopped (reduce olive oil amount if using oil-marinated artichoke)
  • 1 bunch parsley, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix first eight ingredients in a large bowl. Mix garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice in a small bowl or cruet with salt and pepper to taste. Toss garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper mixture with first eight ingredients. Serves 4. (For extra zip and fiber, serve on a bed of raw arugula or spinach leaves.)

Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
372 12 grams 40 grams 11 grams 33 grams

Monday: Turkey Avocado Wrap

Turkey Avocado WrapSomewhere between a pita and a tortilla, a lavash is a low-fat wrap from the Middle East. They’re typically lower in carbs than pitas and lower in fat than tortillas, but not all lavash wraps are created equal. When you’re shopping, read the label to make sure your dietary requirements are being met. Try to find whole wheat versions. Some brands also augment the protein and fiber contents or add flavors like spinach or sun-dried tomato (which add more color than nutritive value). This is a great way to repurpose leftovers like chicken, turkey, or tofu. You can make some delicious combos using what’s in the fridge, or try this recipe. (Joseph’s whole wheat lavash used in this recipe.)

  • 1 lavash wrap
  • 1/2 avocado, mashed
  • 4 slices (3 oz.) deli-style turkey breast or (2 oz.) firm tofu
  • 2 slices low-fat Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup arugula
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 2 thin slices red onion

Spread mashed avocado on flattened lavash. Layer remaining ingredients on top of lavash.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
460 20 grams 31 grams 14 grams 45 grams

Tuesday: Healthy Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken Caesar SaladIf you know Michi’s Ladder, you might remember that Caesar salad is way down on Tier 4, the Dodgy Tier. What gives? It’s a salad, right? Yeah, but when it’s all glopped up with mayonnaise-y dressing and deep-fried croutons, it’s not really much in the nutrition department. This recipe uses a tofu-based dressing, so you get extra protein instead of extra fat and calories. You won’t taste the difference. And if you skip the chicken, this makes a great vegetarian meal or side dish. The dressing also makes a great sandwich spread or veggie dip.

Tofu-Caesar Dressing

  • 1 package (10 oz.) soft silken tofu
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (use anchovy-free sauce, if you’re vegetarian)
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated

Mix all ingredients in a blender or a food processor until creamy. Makes 16 2-tablespoon servings.

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
40 3 grams 1 gram < 1 gram 3 grams


  • 3 cups romaine lettuce, torn
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, broiled and diced
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat croutons
  • 2 Tbsp. of Tofu-Caesar Dressing
  • 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh ground pepper

Toss lettuce, chicken, and croutons with dressing. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and ground pepper on top.

Total Preparation Time: 15 minutes (less if dressing is already prepared)

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
311 9 grams 18 grams 4 grams 39 grams

Wednesday: Shakeology® Oatmeal

Chocolate Shakeology Packet and Jar of OatmealAt Beachbody, there’s usually some Shakeology around, so if I’ve forgotten my lunch, I often improvise with some Shakeology and whatever ingredients I can scrounge (but no stealing from the office fridge—not cool!). This mixture of instant oatmeal, peanut butter, and Shakeology ends up tasting a lot like cookie dough. That would have been the lunch of choice as a kid, but now it’s good for me!

  • 1 cup unflavored instant oatmeal, prepared
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter, unsalted and unsweetened
  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseeds

Prepare one packet of oatmeal. Now listen up—this is important. LET THE OATMEAL COOL to a little higher or lower than room temperature. If you add the Shakeology when the oatmeal’s too hot, you’ll kill the healthy enzymes in every scoop, and you don’t want that on your conscience. After the oatmeal is cool enough, mix in the Shakeology, peanut butter, and flaxseeds, and eat!

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
430 15 grams 51 grams 10 grams 28 grams

Thursday: Lentil and Feta Salad

Lentil and Feta SaladLentils contain lots of healthy protein, and are tasty and economical. They’re also good sources of iron, as well as of other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. And they come in different colors, including red, green, and brown, so you can make a salad as appealing to the eye as to the palate. This Middle Eastern-style recipe makes for a filling lunch, or you could have half a portion with half of Monday’s Turkey Avocado Wrap. If you use canned lentils, try to find low-sodium varieties. Your best bet is to cook dried ones the night before. You can also boil the lentils with a bay leaf or other spices in for extra flavor.

  • 3 cups cooked or canned lentils
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine first nine ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, and salt and pepper, and toss with first nine ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two. You can eat it as soon as it’s done, but it just gets better the longer the flavors combine. The next day is the best! Makes 4 servings.

Preparation time: 20 minutes (mostly chopping)

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
424 19 grams 45 grams 16 grams 21 grams

Friday: Pita Party

Pita PartyThis is a great desk lunch. It’s like having a cocktail party at your desk (minus the cocktails). You can combine the ingredients so that no two bites are the same. For a busy day without time for a proper sit-down lunch, this is a good way to graze. If you have a bento box–style container with compartments, this is a perfect time to bust it out. The fat and salt contents of hummus vary greatly by brand, so if you don’t make your own from scratch (we’ll have a recipe in an upcoming newsletter), make sure you read the nutrition label. To reduce the caloric content even more, invite a coworker to your party! (If they don’t have tzatziki at the store, combine 1 cup of nonfat yogurt with one minced garlic clove, half a chopped cucumber, fresh chopped dill, and salt to taste.)

  • 1 whole wheat pita, quartered
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 1 cup tzatziki
  • Optional: Cut-up carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, etc.

Bring containers of hummus and tzatziki to work, and dip pita pieces in either or both of them. Bring your favorite crudité-style veggies and dip them as well for a sinless end-of-the-week treat.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving, not counting veggies):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
511 14 grams 71 grams 13 grams 30 grams

Saturday: Mini-Pizzas

Mini-Pizza IngredientsThis recipe is from my friend Ali, who is allergic to gluten, but has found a way to still enjoy pizza on the weekend without the gluten, and without a lot of the fat and calories of store-bought or delivery pizzas. Try this recipe with your own favorite toppings. It’s also a great recipe for kids.

  • 1 spelt or brown-rice tortilla
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella (or soy cheese), shredded
  • 4 tomato slices

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly toast the tortilla. Be careful not to overcook it—just a couple of minutes, enough to give it the structural integrity to hold the toppings. After you’ve toasted the tortilla, spread the tomato sauce thinly on top. Add basil, mushrooms, and chicken, and finally top with cheese and tomato slices. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted. Let cool slightly and serve. It’s so low in calories, you could even have two!

Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
310 12 grams 35 grams 2 grams 14 grams

Feel free to eat any of these lunches on any day of the week. And repeat your favorites. Most of these can be integrated into your favorite Beachbody meal plan, including P90X®Bon appétit!

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