Cheap lunch ideas don’t have to be boring! Here are some great ways to have delicious meals while still keeping within your grocery budget.
Cheap Lunches For Kids And Adults
Packing a lunch day after day can get repetitive and boring. You pack your hard-boiled egg, leftover chicken breasts, and a side salad and head out for the day.
Both kids and adults deserve something better and more creative, even while on a tight budget – and you can have it.
There are lots of fun lunch ideas that won’t break the bank, particularly if you come up with a meal plan for how to use the simple ingredients throughout the week.
Here are some cheap lunches that will not only tempt your taste buds but agree with your wallet.
The Simple Sandwich Can Be So Much More
The classic brown paper bag lunch started for a very good reason – it was cheap and easy. To this day, many people don’t use lunch boxes and still use this classic. The same goes for the sandwich.
Many basic lunch recipes include a tasty sandwich. Whether you’re used to a classic peanut butter sandwich, tuna salad on white bread, or mini chicken salad sandwiches, most of us are used to this being the main course with a few sides packed along.
That said, you can be creative with your sandwiches! While the old staples are excellent every once in a while, you don’t want to make them so often that you get sick of them.
What’s more, if you are packing a lunch to keep at a work desk or in a backpack, it needs to be able to stay cool.
Easy Sandwiches On A Budget
- Easy Monte Cristo Sliders
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Rollups
- Easy Cheeseburger Rollups
- Stuffed Taco Crescent Rolls
- Roasted Asparagus Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Easy Pepperoni Pizza Muffins
- Vegan BLT Tempeh Sandwiches
- Meatball Pita Pockets
- Creamy Ranch Tortilla Pinwheels
- Air Fryer Pizzadillas
Fruits And Vegetables Can Be Fun
Putting together some healthy lunch ideas will typically include some fresh vegetables or fruits. They are good for you and super tasty. Whether you are a cottage cheese and cherry tomatoes person or just like to have some apple slices to snack on, fresh produce can be expensive.
And while it can be intimidating worrying about how much money you can spend, there are excellent ways to save. One of the very best ways is by shopping the loss leader products on the front page of your grocery store ad every week.
Our grocery stores are designed to offer some of the very best sales on the front page to get us to shop at their store.
They don’t make much money on these deeply discounted items (i.e. the loss leaders), but they know that shoppers will typically buy other things while there. This is where you can take advantage of the savings.
If raspberries are on sale for $.99 per pint during a three-day sale, buy four and freeze some. If a few different fresh veggies are $.69/lb, maybe it’s red pepper slices for the week.
Look around, pay attention to the sales, and then get creative.
Healthy-ish Fruit And Vegetable Lunch Ideas
- Cinnamon Honey Glazed Sweet Potatoes
- Sugar Cookie Fresh Fruit Pizza
- Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Fries
- Oven Roasted Parmesan Green Beans
- Air Fryer Banana Chips
- Vegan Radish Wands
- Rainbow Fruit Skewers
- Air Fryer Zucchini Cheese Pizza
- Cinnamon Apple Chips
- Homemade Peach Applesauce
Pretzels, Chex Mix, And Rice Cakes Are Fun Finger Foods
Instead of grabbing potato chips for lunch every day, think outside of the box! There are a lot of budget lunch ideas that will have you making large portions of snacks that you can divide up over the next few weeks.
You can make an incredibly filling lunch with pretzels, Chex mix, or rice cakes. By themselves, they may sound a little bit boring, but the great thing about each of these items is that if you attach a great idea, you can easily spice up your midday meal.
If you are making your own lunch, consider doing some meal prep at the beginning of the week. Using your favorite toppings or basic kitchen options like soy sauce or cheddar cheese, combine your flavors and then separate your snacks into baggies or containers with small amounts.
Spending some prep time on your snacks will not only save you a lot of money, but it can help you focus on a healthy way to choose your finger foods.
Great Ideas For Your Lunch Bag
- Nutella Peanut Butter Muddy Buddies
- Chocolate Covered Toffee Pretzels
- Pink Heart Hershey Kiss Pretzels
- Honey Sriracha Chex Mix
- No-Bake Rocky Road Rice Cakes
- Rice Cake Peanut Butter Cups
- Bacon Jalapeno Popcorn
- Homemade Slow Cooker Chex Mix
- Peanut Butter Rudolph Rice Cakes
- Buffalo Ranch Snack Mix
Dips Don’t Have To Be Basic
Send a dip to school or bring one to work? Yes! Adding a tasty dip to your lunch can be a delicious way to have a unique meal that you will truly enjoy.
You can include sweet or savory dips that get paired with pretzel sticks, graham crackers, sliced apples, or tortilla chips.
Dips are incredibly easy lunch ideas to put together as you can make them the night before or portion them throughout the whole week.
Just changing up the dip for lunch time can be an easy way to keep your meal fresh and new.
Easy Recipes For Dips
- Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip
- Hot Chocolate Cheesecake Dip
- Cheddar and Sour Cream Ranch Dip
- Easy 7-Layer Taco Dip
- Funfetti Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip
- Chocolate Hummus
- Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Dip
- Hot Pink Hummus
- Easy Garlic Dip
- Strawberry Cream Cheese Dip
Leftovers Make Excellent Lunches
Last night’s dinner can easily be tomorrow’s lunch! Think chili, chicken noodle, or tomato soup in a thermos, or leftover pasta, pizza, hot dogs, rotisserie chicken, chicken strips, or other meals that you don’t mind eating at room temperature or cold.
If your office or school has a microwave or refrigerator, that’s a great way to make your options reach even further.
If you or your student are having a tough week, make your ultimate comfort food for dinner. Knowing that you get to have this great meal again during your lunch break the next day will help.
Different Meals You Can Make With Leftovers
- Cheesy Ham Breakfast Casserole using leftover ham
- Black Beans and Avocado Salad using leftover avocado
- Taco Dorito Salad using leftover ground beef
- Macaroni Egg Salad using leftover hard-boiled eggs
- Eggless Tofu Veggie Scramble using leftover vegetables
- Chicken Quesadillas using leftover chicken
- Cheese And Onion Rolls using leftover mashed potatoes
- Tuna Fried Rice using leftover basmati rice
- Mini Broccoli Quesadillas using leftover broccoli
- Cheesy Pulled Pork Taquitos using leftover pulled pork
Everybody Needs Treats
Every once in a while we all like a treat with our lunch, and it is still possible to have a cheap meal while adding a little something.
One option if you want something sweet while keeping your food budget in check, is to go to your local Dollar Store and spend $1.25 on a box of Bulls-Eyes Caramel Creams, Lemonheads, or any other treat. Grab one or two and you’ll have plenty for another five or six occasions.
The best thing you can do to keep your finances in check, however, is to make your own. There are lots of budget recipes that will make a vast amount of sweets while still allowing for frugal purchases.
Look for something that won’t take much time and is a good option for packing. It is also always a great choice to choose ingredients that you already have in the house to keep food prices down and deliciousness up.
Simple Sweets To Make For Lunch
- Easy S’mores Popcorn
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Bugles
- Oreo Rice Krispie Treats
- Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispie Treats Sandwiches
- No-Bake Whoppers Candy Truffles
- No-Bake Owl Cookies
- Salted Caramel Triscuits
- Semi-Homemade Baseball Cakes
- Corn Pops Treats
- Chocolate Covered Peanuts
Bento Boxes Are A Hodgepodger’s Dream
Bento-style lunch containers are INVALUABLE when you are trying to save money and pack lunches every day. There are many varieties available, so choose the best one for you and your family.
Most come with compartments for each item on your lunch list and make it extremely easy for you and your child to grab and go. Even better, they keep food items from getting smushed in the backpack or briefcase.
The thing about bento boxes is that you can have a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Grab some mozzarella cheese balls, pasta salad, a few cookies, and some deli meat, and you’ve got lunch.
Bento boxes allow you to pack a quick lunch that may not fit with the standard – and that’s great! As long as you have enough food to satisfy your hunger, have a little fun with it.
Out Of The Box Ideas For Your Bento Box
- Easy Pepperoni Pizza Rolls
- 2-Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
- Muffin Tin Sausage Quiche Cups
- Pizza Dippers
- Gluten-Free Sausage Rolls
- Banana Pikelets
- Yogurt Bites
- Veggie Fried Rice
- Easy Cheese Straws
- Chicken Taco Bento Box
There are all kinds of ways to put together inexpensive school lunches, you just have to be a little creative. Be sure to shop the loss leaders at your grocery store every week, use coupons for additional savings, and put those leftovers to good use. Happy lunching!