Lunch time is often a hassle. We’re constantly having to pack snacks and lunches for work, school, or just out in the real world. It can be difficult to find a healthy, affordable lunch that will satisfy you for the rest of your day. We will make it easy for you and give examples a few of the best cheap lunch ideas out there.
Wherever you decide to eat, our cheap lunch ideas are an affordable and healthy way to make your lunch a little more exciting. Avoid the temptation to go out for fast food if you’re tired or just don’t feel like making a lunch. You can make a meal at home for less than $5 that is much healthier. You could even make a whole week’s worth of lunches in one day and freeze them to take out as needed. If you already do this, don’t forget to put a label on the outside of the bag with what’s inside and how long it can be frozen for. This will save you from throwing out perfectly good food that has been sitting in your freezer for too long.
It is also very important to buy the right ingredients when making your cheap lunch recipes. You want to make sure you’re getting the most nutritional value for your money. For example, you will never get the same nutrition with a bag of sliced turkey compared to ground turkey from an actual turkey. This means that you will have to spend more time and then end up spending more money on food that doesn’t offer the same amount of nutrition as it would cost if you bought ground turkey in its marketable form.
With these 15 cheap lunch ideas, we will show you how you can make your own healthy lunches in less time and save money in the process.
1. Pasta Salad
You can easily make your own pasta salad by cooking a box of pasta and putting it in a bowl. Once the pasta has cooled down, add things like tomatoes, diced onions, black olives, etc. You could add more vegetables if you want or don’t have any olives or onions at home. You could always add some fresh meat to your pasta if you wanted. This is a very cheap lunch, especially if you already have all of the ingredients in your pantry.
2. Turkey Corn Dogs
If you’re not a fan of things that are high in fat, you might want to try making turkey corn dogs. You can make them at home and then freeze them or cook them at work and then freeze them. They taste just like the actual corn dogs that they serve at your favorite fast food places.
3. Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets
It is also very cheap to make your own chicken nuggets in the oven. Get some boneless and skinless chicken pieces and cook them on a baking sheet. Make sure to put some type of sauce on them, maybe some barbecue sauce or teriyaki sauce. Add this to a side salad with some ranch dressing and you have one of the cheapest, yet best lunch ideas ever!
4. Cucumber, Spinach, and Tomato Salad
A salad is a healthy and cheap lunch if you make sure it is packed with fresh vegetables. You can easily make a cucumber, spinach, and tomato salad at home by putting them in a large bowl and then adding lots of croutons or crackers on top of it. You can also add ranch dressing and you’re all set. You can choose to add other vegetables or toppings, but that will come down to personal preference.
5. Grilled Chicken Sandwich
You can make grilled chicken sandwiches easily at home. All you have to do is buy some chicken breasts, slice them, and then put them on a large piece of binder paper. You could also make your own barbecue sauce. If you don’t want to make your own sauce, you could also buy it at the store and just add some mayonnaise to it. This makes a healthy, cheap lunch that you can take to work or school.
6. Spaghetti with Turkey Meat Sauce
If you want a healthier version of spaghetti and meatballs, this is the way to go. You can make a turkey meat sauce at home and then put it on spaghetti noodles and top it with Parmesan cheese. It’s very simple, but the ingredient list will be very long if you make your own pasta sauce from scratch instead of buying one already in the store. If you want to do this, you will have to make homemade meatballs from scratch as well.
7. Fruit Salad with Yogurt
If you have yogurt in your fridge, you can easily make fruit salad with yogurt at home. This is a cheap lunch idea for any time of the day and it will keep you full until dinner time. You can make your own yogurt parfait by adding fruits like strawberries and blueberries on top of your yogurt. You can also add granola or some other type of topping if you want.
8. Chicken Quesadilla
If you like Mexican food, this is a great way to sneak it into your diet without eating chips or another unhealthy snack that you’ll feel guilty about later on in the day. This is a cheap lunch idea and you can make it at home very easily. You’ll need chicken, cheese, and tortillas. Put the chicken on one tortilla, add cheese on top of it and then put the second tortilla on top. Heat in a small skillet for a few minutes until the cheese melts. You can also easily make this quesadilla for lunch using a toaster oven.
9. Low Calorie Fishcakes
Fishcakes are a great cheap lunch idea that you can make at home and freeze. The best part is they are only about 75 calories each. A great way to serve them is with a serving of salad, and some lemon wedges on the side.
10. Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is a cheap lunch idea that you can make at home. All you have to do is get some chicken breasts and then chop them up and throw them in a pot with some potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions. You can choose to add other vegetables as well if you want extra flavor. Add enough water to cover all of your ingredients and then simmer them. You can eat the soup with crackers or bread and it will fill you up for several hours.
11. Mushroom Quiche
Quiche is a delicious and perfect cheap lunch idea that you can make at home. You’ll need eggs, mushrooms, green onions or bell peppers, cheese, and heavy cream. It’s so easy to make and it’s very budget friendly as well! If you want to make it fancy, just add some bacon or ham. You can even include broccoli and spinach if you want additional veggies for more flavor.
12. Egg Salad
Now this is an excellent snack in its own right, but it also works well as a meal replacement. It works great when you have a lot of different grains that you need to reduce the carbs on, or with different kinds of vegetables in order to add some vitamins and minerals back into your diet. This makes an excellent lunch box treat because it is light and easy to take anywhere, filling yet not heavy at all.
13. Egg & Cheese Burrito
This is another delicious way to sneak in eggs and cheese to your diet without having to resort to eating a snack or fast food later on in the day. The recipe is very budget friendly as well as simple to make. You will need eggs, cheese, and any other toppings you prefer. This is a great recipe to use with all different kinds of vegetables such as mushrooms, onions or bell peppers. You could also experiment with different kinds of cheese and even add some Mexican seasoning too it if you want since it has been known to increase the flavor of certain vegetables.
14. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Grilled cheese sandwiches are a classic lunch food that is easy to make and very budget friendly. For this lunch idea, you will need bread, butter or margarine, American cheese, and an iron skillet. Cook the bread in the iron skillet without heating up the whole thing. You can also put some tomato slices on top of your sandwich if you want. The great thing about a grilled cheese sandwich is that it’s really versatile too.
15. Guacamole & Hummus Sandwich
Guacamole is a classic favorite, but when you add hummus you’ve got a great sandwich. Choose whole wheat bread and you’ll feel better about eating it. Go with a sandwich size baguette – it will be cheaper than buying two regular sized ones. You can add meats to this but turkey or chicken would be the healthiest options.
You can easily make your own healthy lunch recipes and snacks at home. You can then take them to work with you and save money while still eating healthy. So why not give one or two of these 15 cheap lunch ideas a try? They are easy to make, very budget friendly, and full of nutrients that will keep you full for hours. And the best part is that you can easily freeze any of these cheap lunch recipes and then just heat them up when you’re ready to eat. How many times have you gotten home from work only to realize that you forgot to take lunch with you? That will never happen again once you start making your own cheap lunch ideas.
These 15 easy ideas can even help cut down on the frequency at which you dine out. You’ll be shocked at how much money you save. In the end, these cheap lunch recipes can change your life!