Prepping, budgeting, and menu planning, part of the daily grind is figuring out what you’re meal schedule will be. Whether you’ve got a week full of classes or a 9 to 5 job commitment, knowing when and what you’ll be eating is part of that preparation process. And why not make it fun? Fill your days with delicious meals that are affordable and easy to whip up at home as well.
Below you’ll find six of our favorite lunch recipes. We’re pairing them with side dish ideas, alternative suggestions, and hints at what you can easily prepare ahead of the hustle and bustle of a Monday morning. Dive in and let us know what your favorites are!
Six Affordable Lunches You’ll Love to Make at Home
Teriyaki Chicken from The Budget Mom
- Major Ingredients: Chicken Breast, Mixed Veggies, White Rice, Teriyaki Sauce
- Alternatives Suggestions: Nix the chicken and make this a vegetarian meal – fill up on more veggies tossed in the sauce.
- Side Ideas: Spring Rolls from Dinner, Then Dessert
Flavorful, guiltless, and under $20 for a week’s worth of prepped lunches, these teriyaki chicken spreads will satisfy you Monday through Friday. You can go heavier or lighter on the flavoring and switch out the white rice for brown depending on your preference. And as mentioned previously, you can nix the chicken and double up on the veggies
Mediterranean Hummus Tuna Salad Sandwich from Byte Sized Nutrition
- Major Ingredients: Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Tuna, Feta, Bell Pepper, Olives, Onion, Your choice of bread and toppings (arugula, tomato)
- Alternatives Suggestions: This same recipe can easily be made with chicken.
- Side Ideas: Baked Sweet Potato Chips from Eat Drink Paleo
A bold spin on a classic recipe, this Mediterranean meal will be a favorite among your go-to lunch ideas. Use it to create a sandwich or have it alongside some crackers or greens. You can mix in chicken instead of tuna as well if you’d like.
Antipasto Pasta Salad From Eating European
- Major Ingredients: Genoa Salami, Bologna, Rotini, Mozzarella Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers, Green Olives, Artichoke Hearts
- Alternatives Suggestions: You can easily create a vegetarian version of this salad by nixing the meat altogether. Drizzle some Balsamic on it when you’re finished!
- Side Ideas: Shaved Fennel Salad from The Taste SF
Whip up a batch of this pasta salad and you’ll be able to eat on it all week long – and the family will too. There are so many variations of this that you can make as well. Personalizing it with your favorite toppings, adding or nixing the meat, and then topping it with different “dressings” can be a fun chore to take on.
Buffalo Ranch Chicken Salad from The Pinning Mama
- Major Ingredients: Chicken, Avocado, Hot Sauce, Onion, Celery, Carrots, Mayo, Ranch Seasoning MIx
- Alternatives Suggestions: Replace the chicken with tuna if you’d prefer. You can also stuff a tomato instead of an avocado depending on your mood!
- Side Ideas: Greek Cucumber Salad from Slim Pickin’s Kitchen
Here’s another bold and flavorful spin on a classic recipe. Some chicken salad is delicious, sure, but add a kick of buffalo to really make lunchtime a nice break out of the day. You can replace the chicken with tuna and then add avocado or tomato to your bowl for extra delicious bites.
Burrito Bowls from Everyday Meal Prep
- Major Ingredients: Chicken, Black Beans, Corn, Salsa, Green Chiles, Lettuce, Green Onion
- Alternatives Suggestions: Replace the chicken with steak, turkey, or ground beef. You can also make this meatless!
- Side Ideas: Baked Tortilla Chips from Healthy Nibbles.
These burrito bowls are a good time as well – because they’re so easy to personalize and get creative with. Add more or fewer veggies. Add different meat or forget it altogether. Carry around some cheese and sour cream on the side. The options here are endless – and the prep is easy!
Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta from Budget Bytes
- Major Ingredients: Chicken, Kale, Garlic, Olive Oil, Tomatoes, Pasta
- Alternatives Suggestions: Make it vegetarian by doing away with the chicken and swap out the kale for spinach is you’d prefer.
- Side Ideas: Garlic Bread from Don’t Go Bacon My Heart
This recipe is great for meal prepping as well. It’s an easy-to-follow guide and it’s packed with flavorful – and low prices. You could jazz up the recipe even more by adding steak instead of chicken!