Cheap and healthy make-at-home lunch ideas!

Heading back to work or college after New Year's, the Christmas buzz is well and truly over. Gone are the cheeky mulled wines and the epic Christmas lunches – with January stretching out ahead it's all about budget-friendly eating this month.

Lunch breaks are one of the easiest ways to go through money without even realising. Rather than spending your precious cash on ready-made sandwiches or café lunches, make something just as tasty – if not tastier – at home yourself.

With a little planning you'll find you spend far less, making the long wait for payday just a bit more bearable!

Here are a few of our favourite healthy and portable lunch ideas…

1. Easy pasta salad
Most likely you already have the ingredients for this in your kitchen cupboard! If you're not a fan of tuna, swap in sliced chicken or turkey, or add some extra veggies. Recipe makes 2 portions.


  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1 teaspoon green pesto
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 185g can of tuna in spring water, drained
  • 100g cooked pasta
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes or 2-3 sundried tomatoes, chopped


  1. In a small bowl, mix the onions, pesto and oil.
  2. Chop tuna into small chunks and place in a bowl with the pasta and tomatoes.
  3. Stir in the pesto dressing mix.


2. Spiced cous-cous and chickpea salad
Perfect on its own for lunch or as a side salad with dinner! Recipe makes 2 portions.


  • 100g couscous
  • 220g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 100ml hot water with chicken stock cube crumbled in
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 raw red pepper, chopped
  • 25g pistachios, chopped
  • Handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon harissa paste


Place chickpeas and cous cous in a bowl and pour the hot water with chicken stock over them.
Cover and allow the cous-cous to fully absorb the stock (5 – 10 minutes)
Let cool a little and stir in the lemon juice, pepper, pistachios and mint.
Top with yoghurt and harissa.


3. Warming winter soup
Make this in a large batch to see you through the week – great with a slice of crusty bread or toast!


  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 4 sticks of celery, diced
  • 3 onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • Thyme and oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 chicken or veggie stock cubes
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • Small pasta shells or macaroni


  1. Sweat the garlic, thyme and oregano with some oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the carrots, celery and onion.
  3. Allow them to cook on a low-medium head for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes (including juices).
  5. Add two pints of water, or enough to cover everything.
  6. Crumble in the chicken stock cubes, and allow everything to simmer on a low-medium heat for 30 minutes.
  7. Add the dry pasta and allow to simmer for a further 15 minutes.