Top 10 Budget-Friendly Healthy Lunches

Cause eating healthy doesn't have to break your wallet

April 27, 2017

Eating healthy has always been a hefty topic among students and it stems from the idea that nutritious meals are always expensive, but that’s not always the case. Since the spring has arrived, new produce has been much more available. That gives starting a healthy journey a big opportunity!

Good eating habits can make a big difference on how a person functions throughout their daily life so it’s important to step up and take charge of your eating lifestyle, despite how difficult it may be sometimes. Mrs. Lindsey Draeger, AVHS physical education and wellness teacher says, “Kids will go for fast food after school instead of a salad but it really depends on the student’s motivations.” It’s hard to keep track of what is really in fast food.

Draeger explains what students should keep in mind, “You’ll definitely want to eat more vegetables than fruit because of the sugar content, but you should aim to keep your palate colorful.”

Packing your own lunch may be beneficial despite the school food being mostly healthy. Draeger says, “The school lunch contains a certain amount of calories from 500-600.” Depending on how active you are you may require more or less.  

It’s not that difficult to find healthy foods around. Draeger suggests stopping by HyVee, a grocery store that gives customers  an opportunity to consult to a professional nutritionist with no charge!

(Jerry Holt, Star Tribune)

Keep a look out for Spring’s most affordable produce! According to Fruit and Veggies More Matter, some delicious superfoods include: broccoli, buttered lettuce, collard greens, corn, jackfruit, pineapples, strawberries, spinach, and mangoes. While those are tasty and specifically cater towards the spring, there are also year round produce that are always affordable at hand including: apples, avocados, bananas, bell peppers, carrots, coconut, and much more!


Here’s a list of 10 affordable healthy lunch ideas that are worth “springing” along your lunch bag. Cause who says healthy has to break a student’s wallet?

  1. Avocado Toast
(Marcus Nilsson)

These are easy make because you only need two ingredients! An avocado and a slice of bread. They’re packed with healthy fats that help fuel the body in moderation. This lunch has a sum of 250 calories per serving (a slice) according to MyFitnessPal. It’s the best thing since sliced bread!


  1. Mango Smoothie Bowl
(Grace Elkus)

 These smoothie bowls have paved their way into social media and there’s a reason why; they’re delicious and quick to make too. They’re a great way to feed your sweet tooth and they’re usually under 500 calories. Layer up on nutritious toppings like; granola, shredded coconut and red beans! Be creative.  See recipe here.


  1.  Almond Butter Sandwiches
(California Almonds)

Almond butter sandwiches require 2 ingredients; Almond butter and  2 slices of bread. They’re a great alternative to the classic Pb&J. According to Healthline, “Almond butter contains nearly three times as much vitamin E, twice as much iron, and seven times more calcium than peanut butter.” With a use of multi-grain bread, an almond butter sandwich contains a sum of 430 calories. Mix it up with some bananas for a sweeter taste!


  1.  Strawberry and Spinach Salad

Strawberries and Spinach are by far the most spring-y you can get with a recipe.  The two ingredients are considered spring produce. While salads have a bad rep, they are the most easily altered in flavor. A vinegarette can make a difference in whether or not your salad is sweet or salty. Don’t knock it till you try it.  Check out this recipe here.

  1. The Collard Green Wrap

Having a hard time incorporating collard greens into your lifestyle? Give collard green wraps a try. With crunchy wholesome taste, it can give a filling lunch to anyone. According to myFitnessPal, a Collard green contain 300 calories and is a good source of vitamin A and C. Plus this wrap only takes 10 minutes make! Try this recipe here.

  1.  The Lettuce Wrap

Want to get fancy? Try a lettuce wrap for lunch. Lettuce is considered a spring season produce so it’s worth keeping a lookout for them at your local grocery store which means they’re the most affordable at this time of the year. See recipe here.


  1. Whole Wheat Pita Bread Personal Pizza

Pizza tops as one of the more popular favorites of many but did you know average slice of pizza delivers 30% of saturated fat? According to LiveStrong, a regular four cheese pizza contains “24 percent of the calcium, 13 percent of the fat and 7.3 percent of the sodium that recommends adults limit themselves to per day.” A healthy pita bread pizza delivers the same tastiness but is a healthier alternative and they’re easier to pack for lunch! See recipe here and nutritional information.


  1. Tofu (TLT)
(Eating Well Test Kitchen)

Tofu is easily one those foods others either love or hate but they carry a wonderful source of calcium to help those strong bones according to Self Nutrition. A traditional BLT is a meal that give you a food coma afterwards, plus they carry 34 grams of fat per serving and 1094 grams of sodium; that’s no lunch that’ll fuel you for class. Instead try a TLT, a better alternative. See recipe here


  1. Chicken Quesadilla with Roasted Corn Salsa
(Leigh Beisch)

Got enough time on your hands in the morning? Time to bust out your skillet or better yet a quesadilla maker and smack those vegetables onto a tortilla! Quesadillas are easily packed and give a chance for creative combinations. With 351 calories per serving who could say no?  Try this recipe here.


  1. Muffins on the Go
(Elise Bauer)

This one goes to the students on the go. Plop these on the oven overnight and gather a fresh batch in the morning . To make this more nutritious don’t be afraid to add more combos of fruits or even veggies to stuff with. According to Ambitious Kitchen, a banana muffin carries between 200 to 300 calories with a good source of carbohydrates while a zucchini muffin carries 182 calories. See recipe for banana muffin here and zucchini muffin here.

When it comes to weight loss, Mrs. Lindsey Draeger says, “For girls and guys who are trying to lose weight a lot of it just starts from being active and being conscious about how many fruits and vegetables they’re getting a day and how much water; it’s amazing that when you up those intakes there’s quite significant change in how your body functions, your health and your weight.”

It’s never too late to start a healthy journey by incorporating nutritious meals into your lifestyle. Everything can be on a budget especially during this season. Spring has some of the  freshest fruits and veggies. Following what Mrs. Lindsey Draeger advises, “It’s important to recognize a balance and figure out in the long run what’s best for you.”

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    leeJun 9, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    thanks for sharing. You’ve got excellent ideas in here and I will surely love to incorporate them to my healthy living goals