12 Healthy Lunches Anyone on a Budget Can Make
Your wallet can thank us later.
A high grocery bill is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to eating healthy. You can shop the sales and make basic meals, but if you aren't enthusiastic about what you bring to the office then what's the point?
It's significantly harder to stick to a healthy eating plan and avoid stepping out to buy lunch when the meal in your bag is boring. To keep lunches delicious and budget-friendly, we rounded up our favorite healthy lunches that won't break the bank. Plus, many of them use similar ingredients—so you'll be able to enjoy these with items you have on hand.
Waffle Iron Turkey Melt Panini
Ooey-gooey Colby Jack cheese balances out the salty bacon and tart apple slices in this lunchtime favorite. If you don't have a waffle maker, this can easily be made in a panini press or grilled-cheese style in a nonstick pan.
View the recipe: Waffle Iron Turkey Melt Panini
Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi
This pasta-like meal is easy to pull together and pack for a work lunch. Spaghetti squash is an inexpensive, low-carb option and pairs with surprisingly simple ingredients for a perfect bite.
View the recipe: Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi
Pan Bagnat Tuna Sandwich
Tuna sandwiches have been your go-to cheap meal since college, but our version feels extra flavorful. Egg, lettuce, tomato, and salty tuna salad come together seamlessly, and it tastes even better if you make it the night before.
View the recipe: Pan Bagnat Tuna Sandwich
Lemon-Thyme Chicken Salad
This classic chicken salad can be used in a multitude of ways: scoop it over a bed of greens, spread it over bread, or even build our Chicken Salad Lunch Box. It's the best way to stretch leftover baked chicken breasts or a grocery store rotisserie chicken.
View the recipe: Lemon-Thyme Chicken Salad
Steak Salad Niçoise
We took this classic French salad made with staple ingredients like eggs, olives, potatoes, and green beans, and turned it on its head. Toss in thinly-sliced steak for an indulgent meal that won't break the bank.
View The Recipe: Steak Salad Niçoise
Orange-Almond Chicken-and-Cabbage Bowls
Just six ingredients will become your new favorite lunch to prep and pack. Fresh orange slices bring brightness, while coleslaw mix and almonds offer unexpected crunch. Plus, store-bought dressing keeps this recipe quick and easy (read: perfect for throwing together on weekday mornings).
View the recipe: Orange-Almond Chicken-and-Cabbage Bowls
Greek Slaw and Chicken Pitas
Toss feta cheese, cabbage, and green onions in a light, lemony dressing and pair with rotisserie chicken for a simple lunchtime sandwich. Add additional veggies for something different, and easily assemble during your lunch hour.
View the recipe: Greek Slaw and Chicken Pitas
The Cheeseburger Salad
When you're looking for something meaty that doesn't break the bank, this is the salad for you. All of the ingredients are reminiscent of your favorite fast food meal—beef patty and cheese, plus lettuce, tomato, and onion topped with crumbled potato chips. Drizzle on the ketchup and mayo mixture for the ultimate indulgence.
View the recipe: The Cheeseburger Salad
Crunchy croutons and creamy feta cheese are essential in this hearty vegetarian main. Canned chickpeas and artichoke hearts are budget-friendly, and it only takes 20 minutes to assemble your plate.
View the recipe: Chickpea Panzanella
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach
Ground turkey is a fantastic, cheap alternative to more expensive meats like steak or sausage. For a healthier pasta, we swapped in spaghetti squash for classic lasagna noodles and added spinach for a vitamin boost.
View the recipe: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna With Spinach
WATCH: How To Make Our Best-Ever Grilled Cheese Sandwich
One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes
A can of diced tomatoes is brought to life with onions, garlic, oregano, and chicken stock, and cooking the pasta directly in the sauce adds major flavor. Brighten the dish with parmesan and spinach for the perfect one-pot meal.
View the recipe: One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes
Mini Bow Ties with Bacon and Peas
Carrots, peas, and onions get next-level flavor when cooked in bacon fat. Stir in cream cheese for the ultimate, veggie-packed dish that gets more cheesy and delicious with every bite.
View the recipe: Mini Bow Ties with Bacon and Peas