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Well+Being Blog > Healthy Eating|Lunch Break|Nutrition

Lunch Break: 5 Lunches in DC Under 500 Calories

Sandwiches, Mexican bowls, and salads that are low-calorie but will keep you satisfied through the afternoon.

To key to ordering a low-calorie lunch at Qdoba is to avoid the tortilla and opt for a Naked Burrito instead. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Mr. T in DC.

Lunch can be tricky—you either eat too little and are starving by 2 PM, or you manage to chew yourself into an afternoon food coma. We’re here to help by rounding up five healthy meals in DC with no more than 500 calories. Many of them are protein- and fiber-heavy so you won’t be left wishing for more.

Sweetgreen’s May Salad = 460 calories
Sweetgreen’s seasonal salad is a berry lover’s dream, with its strawberries and cranberries atop a bed of spinach with feta, sunflower seeds, cucumber, mint, and Champagne vinaigrette. Note: Getting a slice of bread adds 125 calories to this meal. (The mainstay Spicy Sabzi salad is another low-cal option at just 455 calories.) 

Cava Mezze Grill’s Falafel Bowl with Hummus = 440 calories
This protein-heavy (14.5 grams!) bowl with six toppings staves off a growling stomach for hours. To go with the falafel and hummus, add tzatziki, eggplant and red pepper, tomato and onion salad, and tomato and cucumber salad. 

Potbelly Skinny Mushroom Melt Sandwich = 279 calories
Kudos to Potbelly for its Skinny sandwiches, which are all less than 350 calories and come on thin-cut bread. The mushroom melt comes with three cheeses, but try ordering just one of your choice—you’ll still have plenty of room to add whatever toppings you want before you hit 500 calories. 

Naked Burrito at Qdoba = 460 calories
Tortillas always pack on the calories, so go for the “naked” rice bowl instead. Top it with black beans, pico de gallo, cilantro-lime rice, lettuce, grilled veggies, and ranchera sauce. The 18 grams of protein and 20 grams of fiber will keep you from reaching for that afternoon cookie later.

Everything at Energy Kitchen = 500 calories and under
You won’t find anything on Energy Kitchen’s menu that is more than 500 calories, whether you go for the Mediterranean salad or the turkey burger. Just be warned: Ordering one or two sides with a meal could tip you past the 500-calorie mark. 

More Lunch Breaks:


Whole Foods

Union Market

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  • ColleenLerro

    This is a really helpful post - it's so easy to overdo it at lunch. I work near a Potbelly and not much else, so that's usually the main lunch option if I don't bring my own. I didn't realize until recently that you can cut 100 calories off any of the original-sized sandwiches by just ordering them on the thin-cut bread.

  • Jeannita

    you guys forgot Pret a Manger and all their half sandwiches and healthy side snacks. The classic Ham and Cheese and lentil salads are my go to.

  • melrom

    Good recommendations, Jeannita! We have a separate Pret Lunch Break, too. -Melissa R.

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