8 Cheap and Easy Lunches You’ll Look Forward To

Easy LunchesWe have high expectations for our brown bag lunches:

  1. The sandwich, salad or whatever it is must be easy enough to prep the night before or early in the morning.
  2. The ingredient list must cost less (preferably much less) than a store-bought lunch.
  3. The nutritional balance has to be such that we’re full but not so full we want to crawl beneath our desk for a nap.
  4. Packed meals have to be satisfying to the senses ... otherwise we’ll risk food envy when our colleagues return from lunch breaks with salads, dumplings, chili and pizza.

The lunches we've put together satisfy all those requirements. The best way to approach any of them is to make in bulk. Plan on eating the same lunch at least three days a week, and you’ll be in business budget-wise. The next week, switch it up.

RELATED: Grocery Shopping on a Budget: 10 Ways to Keep Rising Food Costs in Check

So, as everyone returns from summer revelry and gets back in gear at work, use the opportunity to save a little cash--and give yourself something to look forward to in the middle of the day.

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  • Susanleighb1

    I thought some of these ingredients were rather expensive to purchase in order to make these lunches.  Most of us don’t keep arugula or stock tahini or rice wine.  All looked delicious however.

    • rrhodes

      AGREED!  I stopped reading at “arugula”…

    • Pragna Ahlder0910

      Arugula actually costs about the same as salad greens. I like to actually pick up my greens from the salad bar at the grocery store, so that I am not buying a whole lot and wasting some. Tahini, rice wine, tapenade, etc. tend to have a higher upfront cost, but one jar/tub lasts a while. 

      • Anon

        Also, sub lettuce if you don’t like arugula.  How hard is this?

  • Subject line of my email said lunches for UNDER a dollar… I’m not sure $10 for a lunch is actually a deal.

    • Alli

      These recipes actually make more than 1 lunch, so you should divide the total cost by the number of lunches you get

  • Caitlin McLeod

    These all look delicious and easy! A bit of an initial outlay if you don’t have some of the ingredients–and once purchased, your tahini will last a long time. Plus, each recipe makes enough for several lunches, readers, so the $12.00 sandwich wraps will make 6, $2.00 lunches. Not too bad! I am eager to try out the recipes! And by the way, you can grow your own arugula in your garden or in a flower pot, and save even more.

  • Jen

    I think you can def. do variations on these recipes if some of the ingredients are a bit out of your price range.  I think it is more about thinking outside of the box and making a tastey meal that in the long run costs less then stopping at a one of those big ass deli’s and getting a sandwich that costs easily $12.  

  • Abby

    This sounds really good, but I’m confused as to when the tortilla is put into the skillet. The following is a quote from the recipe and it sounds like the tortilla’s already in the skillet but it doesn’t say to put the tortilla in before the eggs… ”
    Using your spatula, pull away one side of the tortilla and tilt the pan so that the remaining uncooked eggs seep through and redistribute on the bottom and sides of the tortilla. ’ When is the tortilla added? Thank you! 

    • Elephante

      The dish itself is the “tortilla” – the recipe is for Spanish Tortilla, not for Mexican tortillas that you may be thinking of (kind you buy in a pack of 10 or 12 in the grocery store/used to make burritos). The egg/potato mixture will cook together and make what is pictured, and is known as “tortilla” in Spain. It is delicious, though totally different from the flour or corn tortillas used for burritos/tacos.

  • K9bridge

    Sure would love to see articles — not always slide shows —  I have cable but sometimes all these slide shows load slower than reading and it would be nice not to have to do that.

  • susanb

    I think these recipes are probably best looked at as inspiration, because if you used arugula for a lunch, there’s no way your one bag is going to last the entire week, since salad greens go bad so quickly! However, I’m in a CSA and we got a bunch of carrots in the last batch and I found the carrot soup recipe perfect, since I don’t usually buy regular carrots. I mixed in some turnips too to use them up and changed some of the amounts of things, and the soup is amazing! I’m planning to have it with salmon and a salad for dinners this week.

  • Isa

    I love these recipes and have been making them for 9 months. Not always as cheap and as easy to prepare as advertized but oh so delicious and nutritious! My kids like them too. My favorites are the soba noodles, the wraps and the aragula and chicken salad. They have become regular menus for my family dinners and lunches. Thank you LearnVest!