It gets old sometimes, packing the same things over and over for lunch at work day after day, week after week, month after… well, we get it. You're sick of ham sandwiches and leftover lasagna. You want lunches that are going to not only fill your tummy but keep you fulfilled throughout the rest of your long afternoon struggle at work. It's really the only thing getting you through the morning in the first place - knowing you have lunch to look forward to.

Packed Lunches

The first step to creating healthy and inexpensive lunches for work is to keep your fridge and pantry stocked at home. When you have more choices, the recipes can become more elaborate and fulfilling. You want to be able to mix and match your food just as you do your shoes and shirts and ties and slacks.

Save time and money by keeping a few staple items/ingredients around at all times:

  • Tortilla Shells - These are versatile and work well in many recipes. They can also be used as an alternative to bread for some dishes, therefore saving calories and carbs!
  • Avocados - Have some ripe and some not so ripe laying around at all times. These incredibly delicious treats are incredibly good for you, and your heart. Avocados are the only fruit that actually contains enough healthy monounsaturated fatty acids to make a substantial impact on your heart health. They also make guacamole!
  • Chips/Crackers - How else are you going to eat the guacamole? Besides, we all crave a little salty crisp at some point in the day when our electrolytes drop, generally around lunchtime or that lull around 3:30 pm. Stay away from junk food chips and crackers though. Keep the calories and sodium at appropriate intake levels… in other words, don't bring the whole bag - a handful or two will do.
  • Grapes - They're quick and easy snacks and make a great addition to any lunch, whether incorporated into a recipe, such as fruit salad, or by themselves. Red grapes are best. They're sweeter and full of antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Almond Butter - Peanut Butter works too, but really almond butter is the best nut butter for your health. We're talking about monounsaturated fatty acids again, and almond butter carries about 25% more per serving than peanut butter. It makes great sandwiches and compliments apples and other dipping snacks.
  • Granola/Protein/Energy Bars - These are always good to have laying around or specifically to pack for lunchtime because sometimes, well, you just don't get time for lunch, even if you packed a good one. Look at the nutrition facts and contents carefully and do your best to match the nutrients to your specific needs, but try to focus on fiber-rich bars. One or two for lunch should hold you until dinner.
  • Your Favorites - We all have a few staple items that we turn to when in doubt. The point is, always keep those staples around because if you're running low on other ingredients, they will make great replacements to support your insufficient lunch menus on those late mornings and make up for those days closer to your next trip to the grocer.

When you don't even feel like thinking about it, be thankful we live in the 21st century because there are other options available to us now, thereby nearly eliminating the need to drive to the grocery store at all. You barely have to decide what you want to eat with the meal choices available online with new meal and recipe delivery services. Use them to make dinners or lunches at home and take the leftovers to work.

Every individual or family has different dietary needs and there are other factors to consider. Take a look among these choices to select your favorite:

Blue Apron

Whether you are looking for a plan for yourself and a significant other, or a whole family, Blue Apron has you covered. Pricing starts at $59.94 a week, which scores you 3 recipes (each of which serves 2), or $71.92 a week for 2 recipes (which serves 4). The ingredients are farm-fresh and seasonal, the meat has no hormones, and it comes with all the seasonings you'll need.

Try Blue Apron now

Plated

Offers 2, 3, or 4 servings per meal, 2, 3 or four times per week… order an extra one for a fancy Friday lunch. Prices obviously vary depending on your selections. Plated offers quality ingredients and they work with your schedule. You'll want to focus on your needs because the pricing is a little confusing, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be glad you did. And your co-workers will be wondering how you learned to cook!

Try Plated now

Hello Fresh:

These folks seem to have the most bang for the buck. Thirteen different meals weekly are conveniently priced at $8.74 per meal on a family plan and $9.99 per meal on the Classic and Veggie plans that serve 2 adults and 2 children or 2-4 adults respectively.

Try Hello Fresh now

Home Chef

It's just like it sounds. You order the ingredients, conveniently compiled into complete meals that you can prepare yourself, therefore becoming your own 'home chef'. Orders over $40 are eligible for FREE delivery.

Try Home Chef now

Add some zest to your leftovers, as delectable as they are. You'll still need a few snacks to make it through the entire work day.

Graze

Graze will ship you a box of eight snacks, proportionally packaged for $13.99 each. It's a subscription service, but you can CHANGE or cancel your subscription anytime. And, your first box is half price! Not to mention the variety of over 100 different snacks. It could take years to taste them all!

Try Graze now

Naturebox

This is the same concept as Graze but here you get a one-month FREE trial and FREE shipping on orders $25 or more. The great thing about Naturebox is that you can find them at select retailers as well. For some of us, this is a great way to test the product. Look for them at Target, Safeway, Sprouts, and World Market. You can get an extra 50% off your first purchase using coupon code SNACKS50.

Try Naturebox now

Of course, Pinterest is relentlessly reliable for recipe ideas. Just type in what you're craving, the search engines will do the rest. Don't forget to clip some coupons or look for coupon codes on all your favorite ingredients to save even more!

Savor the savings and enjoy your lunch!