Healthy Grab-and-Go Lunches

by Jessica Smith for

In a hurry? Grab one of these nutritionist-approved lunches from your favorite fast food joints.

Healthy lunch options from ChipotleHealthy lunch options from Chipotle1. Chipotle: "I love Chipotle's 'food with integrity' philosophy and their fresh, high-quality ingredients," says Cynthia Sass, R.D., author of S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Her favorite menu item? A simple salad with only lettuce, black beans, fajita veggies, tomato salsa, corn salsa, and guacamole. "This meal is delicious and will leave you feeling satisfied but also energized," she says. And the nutrition facts are impressive: 400 calories, just 2g saturated fat, 23g fiber, and 15g protein.

Not in the mood for a salad? Order a burrito made with only beans, fajita veggies, and romaine lettuce (the beans provide enough protein on their own) and ask them to hold the rice, meat, cheese, and sour cream, says nutritionist Amy Hendel, author of The 4 Habits of Healthy Families. A healthier alternative to traditional burritos, this option weighs in at 435 calories, 10.5g fat (3g saturated fat), 15g fiber, and 15g protein. It does, however, contain 1090mg sodium and about 72g carbohydrates so Hendel recommends watching your salt intake the rest of the day and if you can, lose some of flour burrito to reduce the calorie and carb load a bit.

(Need yet another reason to love Chipotle? You can calculate the nutrition info of your go-to order on their website. Decide what you want before you go, and you'll know exactly what you're getting when you sit down to eat.)

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Healthy lunch options at Jamba JuiceHealthy lunch options at Jamba Juice2. Jamba Juice: It's not easy to find a grab-and-go sandwich under 400 calories with less than 500mg of sodium, but the brie, apple, and sweet fig sandwich fits the bill, says Samantha Lynch, R.D., owner of Samantha Lynch Nutrition in New York City. Plus, it's incredibly tasty! "This sandwich brought back memories of when I was a child and my mom would make me raisin bread. It has the comforts of home with something sweet (apples and fig spread) and a little salt (from the cheese)." Weighing in at only 320 calories, 9g fat (5g saturated fat), 41g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, and 11g protein, this sandwich also provides 20 percent of your daily recommended dose of iron.

The MediterraneYUM (TM) is another healthy option, says Lynch. She loves this warm, filling flatbread made with grilled zucchini, onions, peppers, and tangy feta cheese because it's not only under 400 calories, but it's also topped with fiber- and antioxidant-packed veggies. This sophisticated sandwich serves up 20 percent of your daily dose of iron and 15 percent of your calcium and vitamin C for only 390 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated fat), 53g carbohydrate, 5g fiber and 19g protein.

Healthy sandwiches from QuiznosHealthy sandwiches from Quiznos3. Quiznos: Quiznos' small Honey Bourbon Chicken Sub serves up only 340 calories and 6g fat, along with whole grain bread, lean grilled chicken, and fiber-filled vegetables. "And the relatively guilt-free honey bourbon mustard and zesty grill sauce add flavor for minimal calories," says nutritionist Rania Batayneh, M.P.H., author of The 1:1:1 Diet. More noteworthy nutrition stats: 5g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 13g sugar, and 22g protein.

"Quiznos' Harvest Chicken Salad is probably one of the healthiest chicken salads you'll find on deli menus, thanks to fresh fruit and vegetables, antioxidant-rich pumpkin seeds, and a tangy Acai vinaigrette," Batayneh says. The small version weighs in at 300 calories and 9g protein. While the fat content might seem a little high (19g), most of those are the heart-healthy, mono- and polyunsaturated kinds that will satisfy your appetite until dinner, she adds. The complete nutrition score (with dressing): 300 calories, 19g fat (4.5g saturated fat), 24g carbohydrates, 19g sugar, and 9g protein.

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Healthy grab-and-go options from StarbucksHealthy grab-and-go options from Starbucks4. Starbucks: A more sophisticated alternative to a bagged lunch, Starbucks' bistro boxes make a super portable, healthy meal option. The Chicken and Hummus Bistro Box contains grilled chicken strips, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, wheat pita, and hummus for 260 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 5g fiber, and 20g protein. If you want, you still have room to add a serving of fruit and iced tea or a skim latte without breaking the 400-calorie mark, Hendel says. "I really like the fact that all the ingredients are simple and recognizable."

Not in the mood for chicken? Grab a Protein Bistro box packed with a cage-free hard-boiled egg, cheddar cheese, honey peanut butter spread, multigrain bread, apples, and grapes instead. With only 380 calories, 19g fat (6g saturated fat), 5g fiber, and 13g protein, all for fewer than 500mg sodium, it's a pretty good choice, says Hendel, who suggests saving the apples and cheese for an afternoon snack and adding a skim latte to round out your meal.

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