55 Amazing & Delicious Cheap Lunch Ideas For Work In 2021

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A healthy lunch doesn’t have to be expensive. Stick to your budget by making your lunch at home and packing it for work. With 55 cheap lunch ideas for work to inspire you, including cold sandwiches, salads, and grain bowls, and warm soups and burritos, there is something for everyone.

Table of Contents Hide
  1. 55 Amazing Cheap Lunch Ideas For Work
    1. 1 Chicken Caesar Lettuce Cups
    2. 2 Southwest Black-Bean Pasta Salad Bowls
    3. 3 Chopped Veggie Grain Bowls with Turmeric Dressing
    4. 4 Chickpea “Chicken” Salad
    5. 5 Meal-Prep Curried Chicken Bowls
    6. 6 Avocado Ranch Chicken Salad
    7. 7 Tuna, White Bean & Dill Salad
    8. 8 Quinoa Salad
    9. 9. Ramen Noodle Bowls
    10. 10 Chopped Kale, Farro, and Chickpea Salad
    11. 11 Burrito Bowls
    12. 12 Chicken curry cup of noodles
    13. 13 Hummus and Veggie Sandwich
    14. 14 Peanut Butter, Pickle, and Potato Chip Sandwich
    15. 15 Avocado Tea Sandwiches
    16. 16 Mediterranean wrap
    17. 17 Red Pepper, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Mint Wraps
    18. 18 Chicken salad
    19. 19 Egg roll in a bowl
    20. 20 Edamame & veggie rice bowl
    21. 21 Buddha Bowl
    22. 22 Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Stir-Fry
    23. 23 Black bean and rice salad
    24. 24 Pasta salad
    25. 25 Turkey and hummus sandwich
    26. 26 Buddha Bowl
    27. 27 Apple Sandwiches With Almond Butter and Granola
    28. 28 Green goddess salad with chickpeas
    29. 29 Pita pizza
    30. 30 Southwest Hummus wrap
    31. 31 Bagel sandwiches
    32. 32 Vegetarian bean and rice burrito
    33. 33 Vegetarian Sushi Grain Bowl
    34. 34 Grilled Chicken and Mozzarella Panini
    35. #34 Cold noodle salad
    36. 36 Spicy Ramen Cup of Noodles
    37. 37 Salad in a jar
    38. 38 Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl
    39. 39 Chopped Cobb Salad
    40. 40 Tomato & Provolone Sandwiches
    41. 41 Chipotle chicken quinoa burrito bowl
    42. 42 Avocado Ranch Chicken Salad
    43. 43 Tijuana Torta
    44. 44 Quick and Easy Canned Tuna Fish Tacos
    45. 45 Coconut Sweet Potatoes and Wild Rice
    46. 46 Southwest Black-Bean Pasta Salad Bowls
    47. 47 Panzanella salad
    48. 48 Chopped Veggie Grain Bowls with Turmeric Dressing
    49. 49 Chicken Salad-Stuffed Avocados
    50. 50 Curry Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
    51. 51 Veggie Egg Salad
    52. 52 Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Quinoa Veggie Burger
    53. 53 Avocado, Tomato & Chicken Sandwich
    54. 54 BBQ Chicken Sandwich
    55. 55 Cuban Cauliflower Rice Bowl
  2. Conclusion
  3. References
  4. Recommendations

55 Amazing Cheap Lunch Ideas For Work

1 Chicken Caesar Lettuce Cups

You can upgrade your lunch at work with these tasty Caesar salad lettuce cups. Classic Caesar Salad is made with fresh romaine lettuce, crispy croutons, and grated parmesan cheese.

You can give it a twist by making Chicken Caesar Salad in cups. They make excellent appetizers or may be turned into a full lunch idea at work. It is ideal for individuals following a low-carb diet. Additionally, you can use a homemade Caesar salad dressing (prepared with Greek yogurt!) to give this meal a healthy facelift. can add bacon to make it more decadent (everything tastes better with bacon, right?). Use the outer leaves of a head of romaine lettuce to form beautiful lettuce cups.

See Recipe

2 Southwest Black-Bean Pasta Salad Bowls

Next on our list of easy lunch ideas for work is the southwest black-bean pasta salad bowls.  In this Southwestern-style pasta salad, you will use pasta made with black beans to bump up the fiber to an impressive 14 grams per serving. Paired with spicy chicken strips and a flavorful corn salad–shortcut ingredients you can usually find at your local specialty grocery store–this meal-prep lunch is one you’ll get excited for.

See Recipe

3 Chopped Veggie Grain Bowls with Turmeric Dressing

In just 10 minutes, you can prep a big bowl of chopped veggie grain using 4 simple ingredients from your local grocery store. To get started, you can use prechopped fish veggie mix and frozen quinoa. These crunchy sliced salad bowls have high fiber content and low calories. Therefore, it is ideal for those following a reduced-calorie diet.

See Recipe

4 Chickpea “Chicken” Salad

I’m sure you have your mind fixed on eating chicken. This chickpea salad is a vegetarian version of a classic chicken salad and can be eaten in the same way. It contains highly packed vegetarian alternatives that are not chicken. This type of meal is perfect for lunch at work, picnics, etc.

See Recipe

5 Meal-Prep Curried Chicken Bowls

Curry does not have to be time-consuming to cook. You can prepare these meal-prep bowls in just a few minutes with the aid of our sheet-pan meal-prep chicken and some cooked nutritious grains! Keep them in the fridge for a quick evening meal or nutritious grab-and-go lunches throughout the week.

See Recipe

6 Avocado Ranch Chicken Salad

The dressing for this chicken salad is made using avocado, which is both creamy and healthy. Ranch dressing with pickled jalapeno offers a tart twist to the lunchtime favorite. Serve it open-faced on a slice of whole-wheat bread or in a lettuce cup for a low-carb lunch.

See Recipe

7 Tuna, White Bean & Dill Salad

Purists would insist on imported Italian canned tuna fish for the Tuscan classic, but we think plain old tuna from the supermarket is just cool. However, make sure the fish is packed in oil; not only will the tuna be infinitely more flavorful, but we also use the oil as part of the dressing. 

You can take canned tuna to new heights by adding cannellini beans, red onion, and dill, tossing it in a lemon-pepper-Dijon dressing, and serving it over a spinach salad with canned beets.

See Recipe

8 Quinoa Salad

Cook the quinoa according to the package guidelines. Then combine it with chopped vegetables, beans, nuts, cheese, spices, herbs, and dressing to make a colorful and healthy salad that will keep you going all day. Begin with a recipe or create your own up as you go. You really can’t go wrong with this one as long as you stick to the ingredients you enjoy.

See Recipe

9. Ramen Noodle Bowls

We’re talking the kind you’d get in a really good ramen shop—noodles and broth topped with colorful veggies and a protein or two. In other words, we mean the kind of ramen that’ll make your colleagues envious of your meal.

You can prepare your ramen noodle bowls in roughly 10 to 15 minutes. All you need is a big pot of ramen noodles and a stove. You can add chicken, pork, shrimp, or soft-boiled eggs for your protein. Or make a batch of flavorful kimchi eggs and use them throughout the week. Try carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, and spinach for your veggies. Once everything is done, divide your noodles between a bunch of bowls or lidded containers. Then, layer in your veggies and proteins; cover with your favorite style of ramen broth—shio, miso, shoyu, or tonkotsu. There you go!

See Recipe

10 Chopped Kale, Farro, and Chickpea Salad

This combination of meals is an excellent source of protein and fiber. While the recipe asks for red miso paste, you may simply replace it with another dressing (who has red miso paste?). But if you happen to have it, go for it! This passes for a cheap lunch idea for work.

See Recipe

11 Burrito Bowls

Prepare a bunch of burrito ingredients—rice, beans, chicken, and chopped vegetables. Then split them up between several small containers to create individual burrito bowls. Add salsa, cheese, sour cream, ranch dressing, cilantro, or whatever else you’d like.

Fresh avocados and guacamole brown quickly, so don’t add them until you’re ready to eat. Use these easy tips for keeping avocados and guacamole fresh. Or look for single-serve containers of guacamole in the produce section. They’re perfect for sticking in lunchboxes.

See Recipe

12 Chicken curry cup of noodles

With this chicken curry zoodle (spiralized zucchini noodles) recipe, you can make your own cup of quick soup at home. Pack multiple jars at once to take to work for quick lunches all week.

See Recipe

13 Hummus and Veggie Sandwich

This sandwich’s blend of veggies (plus fruit—ahem, avocado) delivers a range of textures to keep your palette interested. You can simply pack it and take it to work.

See Recipe

14 Peanut Butter, Pickle, and Potato Chip Sandwich

Yes, you read that correctly. I did not inadvertently type “pickle” instead of “jelly.” These tastes complement each other nicely, and the chips add a nice texture.

See Recipe

15 Avocado Tea Sandwiches

Cucumber sandwiches are a tea party classic. Instead of sticking to the standard menu, why not try something new? Avocados add a subtle yet unexpected flavor to tea sandwiches. They are generally served with cucumbers, but they can also be used in egg salad sandwiches. This wikiHow will provide you with several recipes for avocado tea sandwiches. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you can even come up with your own!

See Recipe

16 Mediterranean wrap

This wrap is filled with chicken tenders and couscous, as well as a splash of lemon and a good dose of fresh herbs. Any leftovers may be wrapped up for a quick lunch. Serve with a salad of mixed greens and a glass of fresh white wine.

See Recipe

17 Red Pepper, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Mint Wraps

This wrap has four ingredients (not including some extra salt) and the contents have strong and complementary flavors. Plus, it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. It is an amazing lunch idea for work.

See Recipe

18 Chicken salad

A wonderful way to use up leftover roasted or poached chicken is to make chicken salad. If you use leftover meat, you’ll be able to make this lunch in less than 10 minutes. This recipe is simple to scale up or down, and you may add your favorite flavors like fresh herbs, chopped apple, walnuts, or grapes.

See recipe

19 Egg roll in a bowl

Egg roll in a bowl has all of the flavors and textures of the classic takeout egg roll without the carbs and hassle of a wrapper. Ditching the deep frying makes it healthier but still fun to eat. Using a coleslaw mix makes it extra quick.

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20 Edamame & veggie rice bowl

The ingredients for this vegan grain bowl dish may be prepared ahead of time for a quick lunch to take to work. The tart citrus dressing pairs well with the sweet caramel of the roasted sheet-pan vegetables.

See Recipe

21 Buddha Bowl

This dish is high in protein, thanks to the hard-boiled egg, salmon, and edamame. It’ll fill you up whether you eat it with or without the noodles.

See Recipe

22 Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Stir-Fry

Cooking the chicken and asparagus in lemon juice, garlic, and soy sauce transforms the primary components from bland to delicious. You can try this out for lunch in the workplace.

See Recipe

23 Black bean and rice salad

It only takes a few moments to cook white rice, chop the veggies, and combine everything in a bowl for this black bean and rice salad. You can also use leftover rice from the night before to save even more time. Try adding corn kernels or diced avocado.

See Recipe

24 Pasta salad

This is another dish that you can prep at the start of the week, for easy grab-and-go lunches. Experiment with a variety of the classic mayonnaise-based pasta salad—BLT, Jalapeno popper, Mexican street corn—or takes a lighter approach with pesto, taco, or Asian pasta salad. Since these use herbs, sauces, or a small amount of olive oil in place of the mayor, they’re lower in fat but still just as satisfying.

Divide your pasta salad into lunch-size portions, so it’s ready to eat when you are.

See recipe

25 Turkey and hummus sandwich

With creamy hummus, savory feta cheese, spicy red onions, and juicy tomato, this turkey sandwich goes above and beyond the norm. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the precise components. The most crucial components are good turkey, decent bread, and superb hummus; everything else is optional. One good thing about this cheap lunch idea for work is that it is easy to prepare.

See Recipe

26 Buddha Bowl

This dish is high in protein, thanks to the hard-boiled egg, salmon, and edamame. It’ll fill you up whether you eat it with or without the noodles.

See Recipe

27 Apple Sandwiches With Almond Butter and Granola

These Apple Sandwiches with Almond Butter and Granola are portable and don’t require refrigeration, which makes them ideal for lunch at work.

There’s so much opportunity to make this recipe your own. From the apple to the granola, and all the almond butter in between, the possibilities are endless when it comes to this beautiful combo. All you need to do is pick the right, the right almond butter, and granola.

See recipe

28 Green goddess salad with chickpeas

In this cucumber, tomato, Swiss cheese, and chickpea salad recipe, a healthy green goddess dressing are made from avocado, buttermilk, and herbs. The extra dressing is delicious served with grilled vegetables.

See Recipe

29 Pita pizza

Keep pita bread, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and your favorite pizza toppings on hand for when the urge arises. This one couldn’t be much easier. Simply spread some tomato sauce on a pita, top with your favorite toppings, then set in the microwave or oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. We’re talking about 30 seconds to a minute in the microwave. That’s a lot faster than ordering a pizza, and there’s no need for a tip.

See Recipe

30 Southwest Hummus wrap

Hummus is the perfect ingredient to really tie the ingredients of this wrap together and make every bite the perfect fusion of flavors. You can try this out for lunch at work.

See Recipe

31 Bagel sandwiches

Tired of eating the same old sandwiches every day? Switch up your normal sandwich bread with a bag of bagels to mix things up. Simply spread on your favorite sauces, layer on some meat, then top with fresh vegetables and herbs. Cooking chicken breasts and bacon ahead of time can help you save time in the kitchen.

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32 Vegetarian bean and rice burrito

Fresh or leftover beans (black, pinto, or kidney beans) and rice combine to produce a simple yet delicious meal. Spices, garlic, and spicy sauce flavor the beans, while lime juice and cilantro garnish the rice. If desired, add more ingredients to the tortilla and serve with salsa.

See Recipe

33 Vegetarian Sushi Grain Bowl

If you are a vegetarian, this is perfect for you. Start with a base of brown rice and add veggies, dressing, and creamy avocado for a delicious and easy meal. See the full recipe below.

See Recipe

34 Grilled Chicken and Mozzarella Panini

Next on our list of cheap lunch ideas for work is the grilled chicken and mozzarella panini. This is a delicious grilled chicken panini recipe that is fast and easy to make. Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for lean protein that is well-seasoned and scented with rosemary and garlic. The chicken breasts can be grilled ahead of time and then used to make slices for sandwiches for the next couple of days. As well, the grilled chicken can also be added to salads for another quick and healthy dinner or lunch.

See Recipe

#34 Cold noodle salad

This Asian-inspired cold noodle salad with peanut butter, snow pea pods, chicken, and bell pepper is easy to make ahead and pack for lunch.

See Recipe

36 Spicy Ramen Cup of Noodles

Make your own cup of instant soup at home with this vegetarian ramen recipe. Pack several jars at once to take to work for easy lunches throughout the week.

See Recipe

37 Salad in a jar

Cut up a variety of fresh veggies, such as lettuce, peppers, maize, tomatoes, cucumbers, and broccoli. Then put them together to make a week’s worth of jar salads. To keep your lunches interesting throughout the week, use the same mix or a variety of items. To make your salads more full, add cheese, almonds, hard-boiled eggs, beans, and meats. This is a fantastic way to use up all of your fridge leftovers, so get creative with what you have on hand.

To keep your salads fresh, put your salad dressing at the bottom of the jar. Then, layer in the hard vegetables, soft vegetables, proteins, and your salad greens. Bring croutons, corn chips, and other toppers in a separate container so they don’t lose their crunch.

See Recipe

38 Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl

Quinoa and chickpeas provide lots of plant-based nutrition in this vegetarian grain dish. Make a batch of these Mediterranean dinners and store them in containers with lids in the fridge for quick, nutritious grab-and-go lunches all week.

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39 Chopped Cobb Salad

This single-serving recipe for Cobb salad swaps chicken in for bacon, which makes it a great source of protein for lunch at work. If you prefer another salad dressing, feel free to use that instead of our honey-mustard vinaigrette.

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40 Tomato & Provolone Sandwiches

A basic bread-and-tomato sandwich is wonderful, but this one is even better with melted provolone cheese and tarragon-garlic mayo on top.

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41 Chipotle chicken quinoa burrito bowl

This chipotle-flavored burrito bowl dish tastes even better than takeout and cooks in the same amount of time. Loading it with veggies and substituting quinoa for rice adds nutrients for a nutritious supper.

See Recipe

42 Avocado Ranch Chicken Salad

The dressing for this chicken salad is made using avocado, which is both creamy and healthy. Ranch dressing with pickled jalapeno offers a tart twist to the lunchtime favorite. Serve it open-faced on a slice of whole-wheat bread or in a lettuce cup for a low-carb lunch.

See Recipe

43 Tijuana Torta

A torta is similar to a burrito, except that the “wrapper” is a hollowed-out roll rather than a tortilla. It’s stuffed with mashed spicy black beans and guacamole. Melt Monterey Jack cheese over the bean side of the sandwich to make this vegetarian version to the next level (and add calcium). Serve alongside grilled corn on the cob or Spanish rice.

See Recipe

44 Quick and Easy Canned Tuna Fish Tacos

Make a quick sauce, briefly heat the tuna in a pan, and crisp the taco shells, and you’ve got yourself a meal. Tuna fish tacos are a tasty alternative to tuna salad and take only a few minutes to prepare. You may use leftover flaked tuna fish with the canned tuna.

See Recipe

45 Coconut Sweet Potatoes and Wild Rice

If you haven’t added coconut milk to a dish before, you’re missing out. It adds a different flavor profile to all ingredients in the dish, especially in the potatoes and rice.

See Recipe

46 Southwest Black-Bean Pasta Salad Bowls

With just 5 easy ingredients and 20 minutes, you can meal-prep a week’s worth of tasty and filling high-fiber meals. In this Southwestern-style pasta salad, we use black bean pasta to boost the fiber content to an astounding 14 grams per serving. This meal-prep lunch, along with seasoned chicken strips and a delicious corn salad—shortcut items you can frequently get at your local specialized grocery store—is one you’ll look forward to.

See Recipe

47 Panzanella salad

Panzanella salad is a wonderful blend of fresh tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, crispbread, and tangy vinaigrette. It’s a fantastic way to use up leftover bread, especially if it’s French or sourdough. If desired, top with cubed mozzarella.

See Recipe

48 Chopped Veggie Grain Bowls with Turmeric Dressing

You can prepare a week’s worth of lunches in just 10 minutes by utilizing four basic products from your local specialized food shop. To cut down on prep time, we’re using a prechopped fresh veggie mix and frozen quinoa (which heats in the microwave in under 5 minutes). These crunchy chopped salad bowls are strong in fiber yet low in calories, making them ideal for low-calorie diets.

See Recipe

49 Chicken Salad-Stuffed Avocados

Are you looking for a healthy, packable lunch for work? This nutritious homemade chicken salad, served inside an avocado instead of bread, is ideal. See the recipe below to know how to go about it.

See Recipe

50 Curry Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

These decadent wraps are lightened up with fat-free Greek yogurt in place of mayo, and lettuce serves as a crisp, fresh alternative to a flour wrap.

See Recipe

51 Veggie Egg Salad

This vegetarian egg salad dish is brightened up with crunchy carrot, cucumber, and scallions. For a nutritious, light lunch, pair it with some crisp crackers and tomatoes.

See Recipe

52 Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Quinoa Veggie Burger

Sure, these may take a little extra time to prepare. But if you prepare a bunch of them at once, all you have to do is grab one out of the freezer or fridge and pack it for lunch.

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53 Avocado, Tomato & Chicken Sandwich

The avocado is mashed in this healthy chicken sandwich dish to make a nutritious creamy spread.

See Recipe

54 BBQ Chicken Sandwich

You can toss leftover cooked chicken with barbecue sauce and crunchy carrots for a quick and healthy lunch at work.

See Recipe

55 Cuban Cauliflower Rice Bowl

To reduce carbohydrates and increase veggie servings, we use cauliflower rice instead of another full-grain like brown rice in this spin on a healthy grain bowl recipe. A simple citrusy mojo sauce poured on top adds a Cuban flavor to this quick lunch or dinner.

See Recipe

Conclusion

Our list of work lunch ideas are easy to make foods that won’t cost you much to prepare. You can click the link below each lunch idea to see the recipe.

References

  • themuse.com – 52 Creative (and Easy!) Ideas for Lunch at Work That’ll Make Everyone Jealous
  • thespruceeats.com – 10 Cheap but Tasty Lunch Ideas for Work and Home
  • eatingwell.com – 59 Cheap Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work

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