Quick Lunch Ideas for Runners

turkey and cheese wrap
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Whether you run in the morning or afternoon, lunch is an important meal because it's either helping you with your recovery or fueling your upcoming run. Yet some runners either skip lunch because they're busy at work or they eat some fast (often unhealthy) food on the go.

It's possible to have a lunch that's both quick AND nutritious. The key to a healthy lunch is balance. Try to incorporate at least three different food groups into your meal. You should also make sure you try some protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber to provide energy and help you stave off hunger.

If you're bored with your current lunch routine, here are some suggestions for quick and nutritious lunches that don't require a lot of prep time. Most of them are easy to pack if you're brown-bagging it to work or school.

1. Black Bean Burrito:  For a tasty black-bean burrito, put one cup black beans, two tablespoons salsa, one ounce soy cheese, chopped tomatoes, and cilantro on a whole-wheat tortilla. Suggested side: apple slices with peanut butter.

2. Veggie Burger: Put one garden burger on a whole-grain bun, with sliced tomato and onion. Suggested sides: 1/2 cup pasta and bean salad and a handful of baby carrots dipped in yogurt salad dressing.

3. Broccoli Slaw Wraps: This recipe uses packaged broccoli slaw, cooked chicken, tortilla wrap, mayo, and mustard for an easy, delicious wrap sandwich.

4. Turkey and Cheese Wrap:  Put three ounces of Turkey, shredded cheddar cheese, low-fat mayo, shredded lettuce, tomato in a whole-wheat wrap. Suggested side: green apple.

5. Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich:  To make this classic runner's sandwich, spread some peanut butter on whole-wheat bread and then place banana slices on top. Suggested sides:  apple and 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt.

6. Chicken Caesar Pita Sandwich: Stuff grilled chicken and lettuce into a whole-wheat pita and top with light Caesar dressing.  Suggested sides:  baby carrots or apple slices.

7. Avocado Veggie Pita Sandwich:  Spread a mashed avocado inside a whole-wheat pita and then layer on marinated artichoke hearts, sliced red peppers, marinated sundried tomatoes, and sliced baby portabella mushrooms.

8. Roasted Turkey Sandwich:  Put three ounces roasted turkey meat, 1/6 of an avocado sliced, two teaspoons reduced-fat mayo, four tomato slices, two teaspoons mustard, and one ounce provolone cheese on two hearty slices of whole-grain bread.  Suggested sides:  One cup vegetable soup and one cup red grapes.

9. Mexican Pita Sandwich:  Stuff a whole-wheat pita with vegetarian refried beans, salsa, lettuce, and shredded cheddar cheese. Suggested side:  Handful of tortilla chips with extra salsa.

10. Mozzarella and Tomato Salad:  Combine two medium-sized tomatoes with a couple slices of fresh mozzarella and 1/2 cup basil leaves. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top.

11. HLT (Hummus Lettuce and Tomato) Looking for a healthy alternative to a BLT sandwich?  This sandwich uses hummus, lettuce, and tomato on a whole-wheat sandwich bun for a healthy and quick lunch. You can also add some feta cheese and/or black olives for a little extra flavor.

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