When we think about meal prep, we often think about dinner and breakfast, but lunch is the overlooked meal. Meal prepping lunch can be easy and exciting, especially when compared to the same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 diverse, nourishing lunch options checking in at less than $10.
From sandwiches to stuffed vegetables, you are sure to find something that appeals to your taste buds and fits your budget.
The beans in this cold-weather favorite provide protein, fiber, folate and antioxidants. The tomatoes offer the antioxidant, lycopene. Chili keeps well in the fridge or freezer for an easy, reheatable option. Ground turkey, chicken or beef are also great add-ins for a budget-friendly meal making several $3 servings.
Try this easy turkey and white bean chili or save time with an Instant Pot butternut squash and white bean chili.
Grain bowls (aka Buddha bowls) are easily customizable to meet your flavor preferences and your macros. For example, a high-protein vegetarian option could include brown rice (healthy carbs and fiber), chickpeas (quality protein), avocado (healthy fats) and other colorful veggies for added micronutrients. Buying rice and chickpeas in bulk along with in-season veggies saves you more money — and this meal can cost as little as $3 per serving.
Using beans and rice as a burrito bowl base is not only cheap, but it also forms a complete protein with all the essential amino acids the body requires. Add immune-supporting, antioxidant-rich leafy greens, your favorite protein, avocado and or cheese for a well-balanced meal. Seafood or shrimp makes a great protein option, like in these shrimp burrito bowls. Depending on what proteins and veggies you choose, it could cost as little as $4 a serving, making it a healthier and cheaper choice than takeout options like Chipotle.
Most people consider an egg sandwich a breakfast food, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy it for lunch, too. With protein, healthy fats and phytonutrients, eggs can keep you full for hours and normally cost around $2 per dozen. Whole-wheat bread, at just a couple dollars per loaf, provides complex carbohydrates for energy. Then, add your favorite customizable toppings, such as vegetables, meat, sauces, spices or cheese. For just $2 a serving you’ve got an easy foolproof lunch.
If you’re craving pizza, flatbread versions are a quick, healthier route. Simply top flatbread with tomato sauce, cheese (optional), a pre-cooked protein and vegetables for a well-rounded, nutrient-dense meal that costs roughly $4 per serving. You can make it in the oven or microwave, depending on how much time you have for lunch. It’s also an easy leftover or make-ahead option for those busy weekdays. For inspiration, try this grilled corn and zucchini flatbread or these mini flatbread pizzas.
Say goodbye to sad desk salads with these meal-worthy recipes that fit any eating style. Leafy greens provide fiber and micronutrients such as vitamins A, C and K, as well as various B vitamins. A 5-ounce package of spring mix is only $3. While nuts and seeds are a little pricier, they can be bought in bulk and add flavor, texture and nutrients like unsaturated fats, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium — be mindful of portion size since they’re more calorie-dense. To include all three macronutrients, add whole grains, protein and a healthy homemade dressing. Depending on the ingredients you choose, you could spend anywhere from $4–8 per serving.
Spaghetti squash is rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, and manganese. The average price of a spaghetti squash is about $5, and it’s extremely versatile. With chicken breast, kidney beans, salsa and cheddar, this Tex-Mex baked spaghetti squash contains ample protein, fiber, healthy fats and, of course, flavor. Experiment with your favorite proteins, whole grains and veggies for as little as $6 per serving.
Avocados are nutritious superstars, packed with fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, plus vitamin K, folate and potassium. For a well-rounded meal, try to pick toppings with protein and carbohydrates, or add fruit on the side.
These Coconut-Poached Salmon Stuffed Avocados are a crowd-pleaser. You can also fill avocados with eggs, tuna, chicken salad and your favorite diced vegetables for roughly $5 per serving.
Corn, flour or whole-wheat tortillas are all great options to build your own tacos. Meat, eggs, legumes or tofu add a source of protein, and you can top the tacos with vegetables, salsa, avocado or cheese to add more nutrients and staying power. At $3–5 per serving, tacos are a cost-effective way to break away from the monotonous lunch choices. We love these seven taco recipes under 350 calories.
Sandwiches are often deemed boring, typical lunch food, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Bread is a cost-effective meal base, and a 5-ounce can of tuna contains 25 grams of protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids for less than $2.
By adding cheddar, avocado and veggies like tomato, celery and pickles to your tuna melt, you’ll add healthy fats, more protein and various vitamins and minerals like vitamins C and K. Plus, putting this fresh sandwich together (at roughly $4 per serving) is easy and quick.
Discover hundreds of healthy recipes — from high protein to low carb — via “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app.