Healthy, Low Cost Lunch Ideas from Budget Dietitian

by Dana S on August 18, 2011

As a registered dietitian, I want to send my soon-to-be first grader off to school with a healthy lunch. However, I know that if I don’t keep lunch interesting, all the healthy stuff will get traded for Oreos!

To help with packing, I am listing out healthy & budget friendly options for brown bag lunches. These options are also relatively easy; no carving a carrot into a swan! :)

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Healthy, Low Cost Lunch Ideas

Entree Ideas:

  • The classic pb&j as well as pb& honey sandwiches
  • Nitrate free lunchmeat & cheese sandwiches
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • Homemade muffin with a side of string cheese
  • Tic-Tac-Toe
  • Cold Pasta Salad with veggies & cubed cheese
  • Hummus & Vegetable Wraps
  • Egg Salad Sandwiches
  • Tuna Salad Sandwiches
  • Ants on a Log
  • Celery filled w/ Cream Cheese dotted with Dried Cranberries
  • Asian Chicken Salad Wraps
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Hummus w/ Whole Grain Pita & Carrots/Green Peppers to dip in it
  • Marinated Vegetable Pasta
  • Cream Cheese & Sliced Strawberry Sandwich
  • Couscous Salad w/ Leftover Chicken & Vegetables
  • Leftover Cubed Chicken w/ BBQ Sauce to dip in
  • Peanut Butter & Banana Roll Up
  • Pita Pizzas
  • Fruit Roll-Up
  • Chicken Salad
  • Babybel (or other cheese) and whole grain crackers
  • Chicken Kabobs w/ Peanut Sauce (or BBQ sauce for the less adventurous)
  • Entree Salad such as Greek Salad, Caesar
  • Cheese Sandwich
  • Fruit & Yogurt Parfait

Side Dishes:

  • Unsweetened Applesauce
  • Carrot Sticks or Shredded Carrots
  • Whole Fruit like Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Clementines, Pears, Plums, Peaches
  • Olives
  • Cut Veggies w/ Dip
  • Dried Cranberries, Apricots, Apples, or Raisins
  • 100% Fruit Leather
  • Fruit Salad
  • Raw Veggie Kabobs
  • Raw Fruit Kabobs
  • Trail Mix
  • Cut Fruit w/ Yogurt Dip
  • Yogurt
  • Canned fruit in light syrup or fruit juice
  • Dried Fruit mixed with an Unsweetened Cereal (such as Cheerios or Rice Chex)
  • Side Salad w/ Favorite Dressing
  • Corn Salad
  • Fruit Cut into Wedges such as Apples, Oranges, Peaches
  • Grapefruit Half
  • Homemade Granola Bars
  • Secret Message Bananas

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie August 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

Where do you find nitrate free lunchmeat?


Dana @ Budget Dietitian September 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Hormel makes one that I buy at my regular ole’ grocery store. :)


jan August 21, 2011 at 9:21 am

the only thing on that list my kid would eat is PB&J :(


Dana @ Budget Dietitian September 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Hang in there Jan! He will turn around! :)


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