We all have hectic days where we just don’t have time to pack a lunch with heart-shaped cheeses, individually peeled grapes, and 3-4 servings of vegetables included. Whether for yourself or some back-to-school young’uns, packing so many lunches all year long can get tiresome.
But don’t give up! As stated over and over again in financial writing, bringing a lunch is nearly always cheaper than a similar meal out at a restaurant, or even “fast casual” food places. While articles like the Simple Dollar point out that there is a large margin of what a brown bag lunch may cost, just keep track yourself for one week and you will soon see.
Even if you have the smallest of fast-food options (maybe half a $6 sandwich, and half the next day, for a total per day of $3, not including any drinks or extras), it is easy to create incredibly cheap meals for yourself at home, or even pack lunches which you can assemble wherever you are when it’s time to eat. Sometimes for even less than $1 a day!
And with a little creativity, you can create these easy, cheap meals, and actually make them healthy too! We’re talking several levels above ramen noodles, folks. Just check out my “less than 5” section for a plethora of ideas.
- Pack-and-go lunch ideas from Eating Well
- 27 Awesome healthy work lunches from BuzzFeed
- 100+ Healthy work lunches at easylunchboxes.com
- 25 Quick, cheap lunch ideas at Wise Bread
This recipe is a healthified tuna salad. By adding several kinds of vegetables you bulk up the salad with fiber and vitamins, and adding an egg gives the already 16g of protein an extra 6g boost. If you’re truly hard core, you can even forego the mayonnaise and just add lemon juice for a dash of flavor.
This is borderline vegetarian, if you are lacto-ovo vegetarian. It is extremely healthy, especially if you omit mayo. You can pack all the ingredients in a cooler and assemble at your desk or at school. If you buy tuna on sale, you can get it for $0.30 a can. 1/2 avocado + 1/2 cucumber is slightly less than $1.
Add another $0.50 or so for one egg and a few cents for lemon juice and any seasonings, and you have a hefty lunch/appetizer/dinner for about $2. Add a few big leaves of romaine for a dinner of tuna salad wraps, or serve over a big bed of lettuce with some nuts and berries for a more filling option.
- 1 can or pouch chunk tuna in water
- 1 hard boiled egg
- 1/2 cucumber, diced
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
Step 1: Open the tuna and drain. Rinse the cucumber and dice into small chunks. You could use celery here, or peas, or shredded carrot. Whatever vegetable you like to add bulk and nutrition.
Step 2: Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the seed. In a bowl, combine the tuna, lemon juice, and mayo. Mix well. Add the cucumber and avocado, smash it around until well combined. Dice the boiled egg, and mix that in.
Season with garlic salt and black pepper if so desired. Serve with slices of bread, a wrap or pita, or whole wheat crackers.