8 Cheap and Easy Work Lunch Ideas to Save You Money

Written by Peter Jones

Sick of the same old sandwich? Or shelling out $20 to order take-out to your desk? Or just the usual spot you and your coworkers go and get the same $10 salad every single day?

Save money, calories, and sanity by packing yourself an enjoyable and tasty lunch that might just help you enjoy your workday that much more. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

1. Jar Salad

Yes, this is still a salad, but a) you make it yourself so you’re not paying a ridiculous markup, and b) you can buy in bulk and create the following package a few times a week. Boom—healthy and cheap. Pack your salad in an adorable mason jar. Just put dressing, wet ingredients, and moisture resistant veggies on the bottom, then layer other veggies, proteins, greens, grains, and crunchy bits as you work your way up the jar. Tie a fork to the side and you’re set!

2. To-Go-Gurt

Same bulk and money-saving theory, same container, maybe a little more fun. Layer granola, compote or jam, fruit, yogurt, etc. in a delicious mason jar parfait. Or, keep a container of yogurt, a box of cereal, and some berries in your work fridge and make this on the spot, if you’re able to. This makes a fab portable breakfast or even a pick-me-up snack for the 3 p.m. munchies.

3. Wraps Made in the Office

Sandwiches are boring and don’t travel and sit in a Tupperware all too well. Instead, box up the tasty filling of your choice (leftovers work great here) and keep a pack of wraps in your work kitchen (tortillas, gluten-free wraps, whatever you fancy). You can think bigger and better than PBJ here, but still get that lunchtime sandwich fix: chicken Caesar, creamy avocado and white bean, southwestern spiced… whatever your creative filling of choice, just pop it in a  and you’re good to go.

4. Sturdy Salads

Instead of the everyday lettuce, try making a grain salad for healthy whole grains and extra energy. Try quinoa, faro, barley, wheat berries, or even couscous as a base, then add in crunch veggies, nuts, protein, and a bit of dressing as you see fit.

5. Creative Sandwiches

Maybe you’re committed to the classic sammie but have hit a rut. Just because you’re bored of ham and cheese or PBJ doesn’t mean sandwiches need to be off the table. Try fruit! Add apples to your turkey and brie, or your almond butter. Try a pear-walnut combo on cinnamon raisin bread. Use hummus, avocado, smashed beans. Pesto! Sweet potatoes. Veggie burger patties. Get creative. And it’s not all about tuna fish or egg salad. Try salmon salad, or curried chicken salad for a change.

6. Hearty Bowls

You go buy burrito bowls or fajita bowls or Baja bowls or Buddha bowls… why not make one yourself? Just layer in your grains, protein, greens, and flourishes (never underestimate a sauce or herbal garnish), and you’ll have a healthy and hearty meal for yourself at work.

7. Slow Cooking

Put your leftovers to work for you. Make a giant batch of something in your Crockpot. It will cook while you’re at work one day, and can either be dinner one night and lunch the next, or an easy freezable lunch in Tupperware. Or practice what many savvy lunchers do—the Sunday afternoon meal prep. You can knock out at least 2 or 3 meals with one big batch cook while you’re hanging out around the house on a weekend morning. It’s worth the prep to save you money and time during the hectic work week.

About the author

Peter Jones