Are you looking to save some money and improve your health at the same time? Stop going out to lunch! Just because you’re in school and maybe still working doesn’t mean that you have to do a grab-and-go lunch. Plan ahead and pack your lunch. If you are looking for ideas, we compiled a list of our favorite 3 healthy lunches for students on a budget.
Overnight Oatmeal Parfait
If time is tight, you don’t want something that has to be cooked. Overnight oatmeal parfait may sound like a breakfast food, but it hits all the food groups and makes a perfect healthy lunch. Just put steel cut oats and your favorite greek yogurt in the refrigerator before you go to bed. Mason jars make a perfect container, but anything will work. In the morning, grab a baggie full of your favorite parfait toppings (blueberries and graham cracker crumbs are delicious). When you’re ready to eat, dump the baggie on top and you have a healthy meal!
Upside Down Salad
Salads are another great go-to for healthy lunches, but if you make them ahead, the lettuce usually gets soggy. Turns out there’s a trick to it! Put the dressing on the bottom of your container, and then pile in your favorite salad toppings. Cubed vegetables are a great way to add variety, but you can also include shredded chicken, nuts, or fruit. Put your lettuce on last so that it doesn’t touch the dressing, and you will have perfectly crisp lettuce whenever you are ready for lunch.
Chicken Black Bean Soup
Soups are great because you can make a large batch and then divide it and freeze so you always have a backup lunch on hand. Plus, they are easy to make. Make chicken tortilla soup by shredding a rotisserie chicken (or whatever chicken you have on hand) into a crockpot with half a bag of black beans that were soaked overnight (or two cans), two cans of rotel, and two large onions chopped up. Add cumin, cayenne powder, garlic powder, and salt to taste. Add a handful of shredded carrots for color and increased variety. Cook on high until beans are soft. Divide and freeze until ready to eat.
Eating healthy on a budget is possible when you’re busy. It just takes a little planning. Chances are that if you are bringing your own lunch, no matter what it is, you’ll be saving money (and calories) over eating out.