When noon rolls around and your stomach starts growling, you know it’s the best part of the day: lunch!
Unfortunately, you may not always have time to take a full hour for a sit-down meal. Many young professionals opt to either shorten their lunch breaks or work through them.
When this happens to you, save yourself the guilt that often accompanies to-go orders and fast food. We’ve researched healthy options at five popular U.S. chain restaurants that offer quick bites so you can get back to work faster…and more nutritiously.
How can you not love Panera? It has a wide range of fresh, delicious menu offerings and an awesome rewards program. Plus, its online ordering system makes it a great choice for lunch breaks. Here are some menu items at Panera that are on the healthier side.
- Black Bean Soup
- A plant-based choice that’s high in fiber. We recommend opting for a half-portion to lower the sodium intake. Pair it with a half-salad for a well-rounded lunch.
- Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa
- The most UNhealthy element of this tasty salad is the dressing, which is high in salt – so we recommend ordering it on the side and drizzling it lightly.
- Mediterranean Chicken Sandwich
- Sooo many yummy vegetables on this Panera sandwich, making it a great choice when you don’t quite feel like a salad. You can make it even healthier by swapping the feta cheese for avocado. 🥑
WELCOME TO MOE’S! This Tex-Mex chain offers flavors galore without sacrificing nutrition. Here are a few of the best choices for people who are trying to be mindful about their food intake.
- Streaker Chicken Salad
- This delicious salad rings in at just 550 calories, making it a great choice for healthy eaters at Moe’s.
- Beef Quesadilla
- High in fiber and protein but not in calories, Moe’s beef quesadilla is packed with grilled veggies, pico de gallo, ground beef, pinto beans, and toppings. Save some calories by skipping the sour cream, and eliminate some carbs by requesting no beans.
- Fish Burrito Bowl
- Fans of fish tacos will love Moe’s fish burrito bowl, which includes beans, rice, corn salsa, lettuce, grilled peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Try to omit at least one of the first three ingredients to cut down the carbs.
A meal at this favorite fast-food chain doesn’t have to be deep-fried and unhealthy. If you need the speed and convenience of a drive-thru, try one of these options.
- Spicy Southwest Chicken with Chili Lime Vinaigrette
- As far as restaurant salads go, this one is a real winner. It’s packed with crisp vegetables and a spicy kick – and if you want to make it even healthier, cut out some carbs, calories, and sodium by leaving off the toppings that come with the salad.
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- Chick-fil-a’s grilled chicken sandwich is a healthy staple of the restaurant’s menu. It’s delicious and is only 310 calories!
- Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap
- The grilled chicken cool wrap is a great choice for a light but satisfying lunch. If you’re adding a dressing to the wrap, be aware of the extra calories and sodium that those can add; we recommend the Light Balsamic Vinaigrette, Chili Lime Vinaigrette, or Light Italian (80, 60, and 25 calories, respectively). A cool wrap, indeed. 😎
It’s all too easy to pile on the calories as you move down the counter at Subway. But a few mindful choices can make your lunch at Subway both delicious and healthy.
- Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich
- This sweet, tangy Subway sandwich is smothered in Subway’s fat-free sweet onion sauce.
- Veggie DeLite Sandwich
- Skipping the meat on a sub sandwich gives you room to load it up with tons of vegetables. Such is the case with the Veggie DeLite, which will add about 210 calories to your day.
- Subway Club
- A Subway classic, this club sandwich is overflowing with turkey breast, black forest ham, and roast beef. The best part about it? It’s just over 300 calories.
Panda Express is a go-to choice for many Americans craving a fast, Chinese-inspired meal. But what are some of the more mindful menu choices? While there are plenty of ways to build a healthy meal at Panda Express, we’ve narrowed it down to our three favorites. Oh, and keep in mind that you can cut down the carbs and calories even further by omitting rice from your order.
- Broccoli Beef
- There are more ways to build a healthy chicken-centric meal at Panda Express, so let’s focus for a minute on the healthiest red-meat choice on the menu. The broccoli beef is a satisfying option that clocks in at 150 calories. It also has much less sodium than the restaurant’s other beef choices.
- Pineapple Chicken
- Craving a bit of sweetness with your lunch entree? The pineapple chicken is a delicious choice and is under 300 calories.
- Tangy Shrimp
- Savor this seafood dish and rest assured that it’s one of the lowest-calorie items on the menu. It is a bit higher in sodium, however, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your meals for the day.
What are your favorite quick and healthy lunches? Snap a picture and tag us on social media!