Lunch Ideas for Your Best Life on Dialysis

Kidney friendly lunch

Lunch Ideas for Your Best Life on Dialysis

When you are on dialysis, your diet is an important part of your overall treatment plan.

Following a healthy meal plan that is high in protein and low in sodium and phosphorus can prevent many health problems such as heart disease, bone disease, and infections. This will help you feel better and live longer. Your dietitian is available to guide you as the dialysis diet can be confusing at first. Lunch is a tricky meal since many people like to eat out or make quick sandwiches at home. Convenience foods such as fast food and processed deli meats are often high in sodium and phosphorus.

Here are 3 quick tips for a dialysis friendly lunch:

  1. Protein is always the most important part of the meal for a dialysis patient. Whether it be eggs, chicken, beef, fish or pork, make sure to eat at least a palm-sized portion at each meal.

  2. Pick the right kind of protein. Good choices for sandwiches are tuna, egg, or chicken salad. Avoid processed deli meats, even if you have the counter cut slices for you. These ‘lunch’ meats are full of sodium and phosphorus. These minerals that can build up and cause serious health problems for people on dialysis.

    Other lunch ideas include beef or chicken fajitas or green salad with grilled chicken or hard-boiled eggs. For that occasional fast food meal, a plain hamburger is a good choice. Choose a side salad or carrot and celery sticks over chips or fries.

  3. Prepare ahead. Set aside time each week to plan meals and prepare recipes. Prepare large amounts of soups or other dishes and freeze individual portions for easy reheating. Make your own salad dressing to avoid having to use packaged sauces which are high in sodium and phosphorus. 

Ready to Get Cooking?

Follow these steps and enjoy a summery homemade green salad with lemon pepper grilled chicken. This easy yet tasty lunch recipe includes protein and a good amount of vegetables. The recipe includes two options for the dressing. Both keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, so go ahead and make extra.

Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken

Cooking fresh chicken at home makes this dish delicious and good for you. Do not be tempted to buy rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked sliced chicken in a bag as these contains added phosphate and sodium.

Makes 2 servings.


8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast

1 oz avocado oil

1 tsp Mrs Dash Lemon Pepper

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Supplies Needed

  • Parchment paper and or plastic wrap
  • Meat tenderizer tool
  • Food thermometer


1. Cover cutting board or counter top with sheet of parchment paper

2. Place chicken breasts on parchment and cover with plastic wrap

Preparing Chicken

3. Flatten chicken breast with smooth side of tenderizer

Preparing healthy chicken 2

4. Remove plastic wrap and use studded side of tenderizer to make indentations in the chicken

Chicken prep cutting board

5. Whisk together avocado oil, Mrs Dash and pepper

Chicken seasoning and marinade

6. Brush or sprinkle the oil mixture onto the chicken

seasoned chicken

7. Heat skillet or grill on medium heat

8. Place chicken breast on grill and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side depending on thickness

Chicken on grill

9. Continue to brush with oil mixture after turning

Chicken seasoned on grill

10. Ensure that the center reaches 165 °F by checking with a food thermometer

11. Remove from heat and allow to cool

12. Slice for salad, use one chicken breast per salad below

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad with dressing

Nutrition facts:

Per serving: Calories 245, Fat 11 g, Saturated Fat 3 g, Cholesterol 100 g, Sodium 100 mg, Carbohydrates 1 g, Fiber 1 g, Sugars 0 g, Protein 33 g, Calcium 20 mg, Iron 2 mg, Potassium 350 mg

Low Sodium Ranch Dressing

Make ahead of time. Chill in refrigerator. Lasts up to 2 weeks.

Serving Size 2 Tbsp.

Makes 12 servings.


½ cup light mayonnaise

½ cup light sour cream

1 tsp dried chives

½ tsp dried parsley

½ tsp dried dill weed

½ tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

½ c 2% milk

½ tsp white vinegar


1. Mix vinegar with milk and set aside for 15 minutes

Mayonnaise using vinegar

2. In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper.

Mayonnaise second step

3. Whisk in the milk/vinegar mixture

Mayonnaise third step

4. Funnel into container of choice, and cover with a tight-fitting lid

Ranch in funnel

5. Refrigerate to chill

Nutrition facts:

Per Serving: Calories 64, Fat 6 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 8 mg, Sodium 80 mg, Carbohydrates 3 g, Fiber 0 g, Sugars 1 g, Protein 1 g, Calcium 26 mg, Iron 0 mg, Potassium 24 mg

Low Sodium Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serving size 1 Tbsp.

Makes 16 servings.


¼ c balsamic vinegar

¾ c olive oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

½ tsp ground black pepper


1. Whisk or shake together ingredients and serve

Vinegar measuring cup

Garlic for Vinegar

Vinegar Whisk

Funnel Vinegar

Vinegar in bottle

Nutrition facts:

Per Serving: Calories 83, Fat 10 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 0 mg, Carbohydrates 0 g, Fiber 0 g, Sugars 0 g, Protein 0 g, Calcium 2 mg, Iron 0 mg, Potassium 6 mg

Assemble Your Salad

Ingredients for 1 salad

2 cups iceberg or Romaine lettuce

1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced

¼ red onion, chopped

3 baby carrots

Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh parsley (or try cilantro)

4 oz grilled chicken breast, sliced

2 tbsp low sodium salad dressing of choice


  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy.
  2. Repeat above for second salad.

Nutrition facts:

For 1 salad: Calories 444, Fat 30 g, Saturated Fat 6 g, Cholesterol 242 g, Sodium 183 mg, Carbohydrates 9 g, Fiber 3 g, Sugars 4 g, Protein 36 g, Calcium 97 mg, Iron 6 mg, Potassium 667 mg


Tara Bzdok is a registered dietitian and kidney health diet expert with more than 10 years' experience. She works closely with people living on dialysis to help them live their best life.