5 Quick and Healthy Lunches You Can Make For $5 | Men's Health Magazine Australia

5 Quick and Healthy Lunches You Can Make For $5

It’s no secret that brown-bagging your lunch is cheaper, healthier, and all around better than buying an overpriced, oversized sandwich at the corner deli. But even so, most of us don’t have much time to prep our own meals. 

Your solution: The easy, no-frills recipes that follow. They’ll help you create a bunch of healthy lunches fast – and for less than $5 per serving.


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These throw-it-together bowls from Beth Moncel, founder of BudgetBytes.com, pack protein, vegetables, fibre, and loads of heat for less than $2 per serving. Prep all of your ingredients at the beginning of the week, and assemble individual bowls each night for the next day’s lunch. 

What you’ll need:

3 cups cooked brown rice
1 medium cucumber
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 medium carrot
2 (5 oz.) cans chunk light tuna in water
8 oz. package guacamole
¼ bunch cilantro
4 Tbsp sriracha 

How to make it: Dice the cucumber and shred the carrot (use a large box or cheese grater). Cook the edamame according to the package directions. Drain the tuna and roughly chop the cilantro.

Place ¾ cup of cooked rice in the bottom of a bowl or lunch container. Top with ¼ cup edamame, ½ a can of tuna, ¼ cup guacamole, a handful of diced cucumber, a pinch of shredded carrots, and a few sprigs of fresh cilantro. Drizzle sriracha over top. Serve at room temperature. Repeat as needed for the rest of the bowls.

Per Serving: 363 calories, 25 grams (g) protein, 46 g carbohydrates (7 g fiber), 9 g fat
Makes 4 servings.


Like the chicken salad you get at the deli, but cheaper—not to mention more satisfying, says Jessica Fisher, author of Good Cheap Eats. Using Napa cabbage or lettuce instead of tortillas adds crunch and helps you cut back on the starchy carbs. 

What you’ll need:

2 cups chicken
1⁄2 cup red grapes, halved
1 cup diced apple
2 scallions, chopped
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 tsp dried thyme
1⁄8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 to 8 large lettuce or napa cabbage leaves
2 Tbsp sliced almonds 

How to make it:  Cook the chicken and dice into cubes. (For even-quicker prep, use pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store.)

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, grapes, apple, and scallions.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, thyme, and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately or cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Divide the chicken salad mixture among 4 plastic containers with lids, packing the lettuce or cabbage leaves separately. Top each salad portion with a sprinkling of sliced almonds. Before eating, portion out the salad onto the lettuce leaves and roll up, burrito-style.

Per serving: 362 calories, 23 grams (g) protein, 12 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber), 25 g fat
Makes 4 servings.


One of the simplest ways to stay full? Fill up on fibre. Thanks to the black beans and vegetables, this vegetarian meal from Erin Chase, founder of 5dollardinners.com, will keep you satisfied and help you power through that mid-afternoon slump.

What you’ll need:

1 cup frozen diced green bell pepper
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked red quinoa
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado, pitted and diced

How to make it: In a large skillet, sauté the green pepper, corn, and black beans until softened, 2-3 minutes. Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Add the quinoa, lime juice, and cilantro to the skillet mixture. Top with the diced avocado and serve.

Per serving: 323 calories, 14 grams (g) protein, 53 g carbohydrates (14 g fiber), 8 g fat
Makes 4 servings.


Proof that protein-packed egg salad doesn’t have to be fatty to be delicious. This version from Cathy Erway, founder of the website Not Eating Out in New York, comes in at less than $2 per serving. It gets its flavour from crunchy celery, tart lemon, and salty capers – not gobs of mayo.  

What you’ll need:

4 large eggs
1 stalk celery, chopped finely
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
Juice of half a lemon
3 or 4 basil leaves, chopped
2 tsp capers
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
4 slices whole grain bread

How to make it: Hard boil the eggs. This trick will help you simmer the best hard-boiled eggs.

When cool, peel eggs and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice into the mayonnaise. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add the celery and capers and stir. Add the eggs last and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold mixture gently, just until thoroughly coated and the yolks have broken up just a bit to blend into the mayonnaise mixture. 

Arrange half the egg salad on one slice of bread and top with another slice of bread. Repeat for remaining sandwich.

Per serving: 329 calories, 20 grams (g) protein, 27 g carbohydrates (4 g fiber), 15 g fat
Makes 2 servings.


Got a can of protein- and omega-3-rich tuna? Toss in a few veggies and bold flavours, and you’ve got a lunch that’s light, filling, and loaded with protein, says Gabi Moskowitz, founder of the website Brokeass Gourmet. If you’d like, round out the meal with a handful of whole grain crackers. 

What you’ll need:

1 5-oz. can albacore tuna packed in oil (do not drain)
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp capers, drained
10 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

How to make it: Place the tuna and all of its oil in a mixing bowl. Use a fork to gently flake the tuna. Combine tuna with the other ingredients. Serve. 

Per serving: 217 calories, 20 grams (g) protein, 5 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber), 13 g fat
Makes 2 servings.

This article was originally published on MensHealth.com

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