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Five cheap and healthy lunchbox ideas

Cut down on calories and boost your savings by taking your own lunch into work or on trips

Taking your own lunch means you have total control over what you eat – fresh ingredients that you like, the portion size you need and no unknown additives. Plus, it costs a whole lot less than food from high-street sandwich shops.

Get inspired by our five healthy recipes, one for every working day:

Beetroot and feta with bulgur wheat

As well as being one of your five a day, beetroot contains inorganic nitrates which have been shown to temporarily reduce blood pressure, improve athletic performance and enhance cognitive ability.

Ingredients:

  • 200g bulgar wheat
  • 2 medium sized beetroot (around 300g all together)
  • 100g spinach leaves
  • 100g feta
  • Chopped mint leaves

Method:

  • Cook your bulgur wheat according to the instructions on the packet and leave it to cool
  • Mix in a couple of chopped beetroots, baby spinach leaves, about 100g of chopped feta and some mint leaves
  • Pour a little salad dressing over it and you have one delicious, colourful lunch.

Health benefits of beetroot:

  • Helps to keep your blood pressure in check
  • May help fight inflammation
  • Can improve digestive health
  • Could help support brain health

Spicy chicken and avocado wrap

If you’re having chicken one evening, pop an extra breast under the grill ready for your lunch the next day. It pairs beautifully with avocado, which is a great source of healthy fat, potassium and fibre.

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 avocado - stone removed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1tsp lemon zest
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 wholemeal wraps

Method:

  • Before cooking, season the chicken breast with salt and pepper
  • Add paprika, lemon zest, grated garlic, chilli flakes and a dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Cut the chicken into slices and roll into a wholemeal wrap with chopped avocado

Health benefits of avocado:

  • Avocados contain lots of fibre
  • Includes antioxidants that can protect your eyes
  • May help relieve symptoms of arthritis
  • Can help lower "bad" cholesterol

Falafel in pitta

Chickpeas are high in vital fibres. Fibre is so beneficial for reducing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers that the World Health Organization recommends eating 30g every day.

Ingredients

  • 400g chickpeas
  • 2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • Wholemeal pitta breads
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • Hummus
  • Chopped cucumber

Method

  • Fry some onions and garlic then add them to a bowl of drained chickpeas
  • Add ground cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and lemon juice
  • Use a potato masher to combine the ingredients before mixing in an egg
  • Divide your mixture into 16 balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes before cooking for 25 minutes
  • Add your falafel into a wholemeal pitta with hummus, chopped tomatoes and cucumber

Health benefits of falafel

  • High in protein and fibre
  • Low in calories
  • Rich in healthy fats

Smoked mackerel and potato salad

This salad is a great way to enjoy the health benefits of fish without offending the senses of those around you. 

Ingredients

  • 350g new potatoes
  • 100g crème fraîche
  • 2 smoked mackerel fillets (skinned and flaked)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method

  • Wash and boil some new potatoes - remember to leave their skins on for maximum vitamin content!
  • Mix some crème fraîche, lemon juice and black pepper, add the potatoes
  • Add a flaked smoked mackerel fillet and a generous handful of watercress. Finish by sprinkling chopped spring onions over the top

Benefits of mackerel 

  • Mackerel is high in omega-3 fatty acids - essential for keeping your brain working
  • An excellent source of protein, a regular fillet contains around 20g of protein
  • Contains large amounts of vitamin D
  • May improve your cardiovascular health

Pesto pasta with roasted vegetables

Sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, grilled vegetables are great as a side with a main meal or eaten cold the next day in a pasta salad.

Ingredients

  • 450g wholemeal pasta
  • 1 butternut squash, sliced
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 courgette
  • 100g halved cherry tomatoes
  • 130g pesto

Method

  • Choose from the vegetables in your fridge, courgettes, red peppers, red onions and butternut squash for example
  • Grill them with a drizzle of olive oil
  • Cook some wholemeal pasta and grilled veg with halved cherry tomatoes
  • Add a generous tablespoon of pesto and a handful of roasted pine nuts to finish

Health benefits of pesto

  • Contains antioxidants which can help to prevent illness
  • Can help to normalise your blood pressure when eaten in a balanced diet
  • Includes omega-3 that encourages your heart to function properly which reduces your risk of stroke and heart disease

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