15 Frugal Lunch Ideas To Bring to Work

Opting for frugal lunch ideas brings many benefits in a world where dining out can quickly add up. Bringing your lunch to work helps save money and allows you to have greater control over the ingredients by ensuring that your meals are economical and tailored to your preferences. 

Bringing lunch to work also gives you a chance to control portion sizes and reduce food waste. Additionally, it frees up time during your lunch break, thus eliminating the need to wait in line or rush to find a suitable place to eat. But what are some nice yet frugal meals to bring to work? Of course, you want to bring something practical, easy to prepare, and not boring. Looking for frugal lunch ideas that tick these boxes? Read ahead. 

1. Homemade Pizza

Funny brunette girl in yellow sweater eating pizza at restaurant..
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Who says pizza has to cost an arm and a leg? Skip the expensive takeout and opt for a homemade pizza. 

You can control the ingredients, experiment with flavors, and save a significant amount of money compared to ordering from a pizzeria. Make your pizza dough, or choose a ready-made one for added convenience. 

Prepare your pizza and carry some slices to work for lunch. It will offer so much convenience if your workplace offers a microwave to heat your lunch. 

2. Vegetable Stir-fry With Rice

Cabbage stew with rice and vegetables. Meatless vegan dish. Top view on black stone table.
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A Visa study in 2021 showed that an average adult American spends $2,746 on lunch each year. Since then, the price has definitely gone higher. 

You can lower your lunch costs by carrying a vegetable stir-fry with rice meal to work. Choose seasonal produce to keep costs down, and stir-fry them with a delectable sauce.

 Additionally, you can pair this meal with some brown rice for a filling and wholesome meal that won’t break the bank.

3. Leftover Pasta

Woman eating pasta
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Instacart conducted research in 2022 that showed that 57% of Americans are concerned about food waste and are actively trying to cut down on it. 

You, too, can embrace the art of leftovers by transforming last night’s dinner into a delightful lunch. Leftover pasta is not only convenient but also a great money-saving strategy. 

This leftover dish can be made tastier by adding a dash of olive oil, some fresh herbs, and perhaps a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. It’s a simple yet satisfying way to make the most of your meals.

4. Hummus and Veggie Wrap

A Dime Saved 2023 04 19T223719.200
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According to Numbeo, you can save $4 to $11 when you prepare your lunches at home. A hummus and a veggie wrap for lunch can go a long way in helping you keep a few more bucks in your pocket. 

Hummus provides a protein-packed base, while a colorful array of fresh vegetables adds crunch, flavor, and vitamins. Choose whole-grain wraps for an extra dose of fiber, making this lunch option both budget-friendly and nutritious.

5. Vegetables and Lentil Soup

Homemade vegan lentil soup with vegetables and cilantro, white wooden background, top view. Indian vegetarian cuisine.
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Warm up your workday with a hearty bowl of vegetables and lentil soup. On top of keeping you hydrated, soups aid in digestion and boost your immune system. That aside, lentils are an affordable source of protein, and combined with vegetables, they create a flavorful and filling lunch option that won’t break the bank. 

You will also love that there are so many ways to prepare your lentil soup. That said, you can have it several times in a row but differently prepared. 

Lentil soup is also a great way to keep warm at work when it is freezing out. 

6. Tuna Salad Wrap

Tuna salad with avocado, celery, spring onion and iceberg lettuce. Tasty healthy food
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Canned tuna is an economical yet nutritious choice, and when combined with crunchy vegetables and a light dressing, it makes for a delicious and budget-friendly lunch. Wrap it in a tortilla or flatbread for easy handling.

Invest in reusable, airtight containers to keep your tuna salad wraps fresh and to prevent any leaks or spills. This ensures your lunch stays as delicious at noon as it was when you packed it in the morning.

7. Rice and Bean Burrito Wrap

A Hispanic woman eating a burrito in an open-air restaurant.
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Research conducted by Numbeo revealed that an average meal in an average fast food joint costs approximately $8 per person. The good news is that you don’t have to spend that much for lunch. 

Say goodbye to expensive takeout burritos and whip up a rice and bean burrito wrap at home. Rice and beans create a dynamic duo, offering a complete protein and a satisfying texture. Add your favorite toppings, such as salsa, guacamole, and cheese, for a customizable and wallet-friendly lunch option.

8. Sweet Potatoes and Black Bean Salad

Roasted sweet potato black bean pepita avocado salad.
Image Credit: Nataliya Arzamasova/Shuttterstock.

Creating this budget-friendly masterpiece is not just about taste; it’s about smart grocery choices. Sweet potatoes and black beans are economical, versatile ingredients that can be purchased in bulk, ensuring you get the most value for your money. A salad made of the two ingredients brings out the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes and the protein-packed goodness of black beans.

Packed with nutrients, easy on the wallet, and requiring minimal preparation, this lunch idea is a perfect choice for those looking to balance health and affordability.

9. Quinoa Salad

Vegetarian Quinoa Salad.
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Quinoa, often hailed as a superfood, takes the spotlight in this nutritious salad. Combine it with crisp cucumbers, colorful bell peppers, and the tangy bite of feta cheese. 

Sprinkle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing for a refreshing lunch that’s not only easy on your wallet but also a treat for your taste buds.

10. Couscous With Roasted Vegetables

Light healthy dietary vegan dish: couscous and vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, carrots, sweet peppers, onions, parsley) on a black background. The top view.
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Are you after a lunch that is both comforting and budget-friendly? Go for the couscous with roasted vegetables option. The ingredients to make this vegetarian meal include red onions, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes, and are all readily available. You could incorporate protein sources such as sliced chicken breasts, chickpeas, or feta cheese to turn your couscous and roasted vegetable bowl into a well-rounded and energizing meal. Remember, storing couscous in airtight containers will help maintain its fluffy texture.

11. Omelet With Leftover Veggies

Spring omelette with green vegetables (broccoli, sweet pea and spinach) in a skillet over rustic wooden background
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Say goodbye to food waste by transforming leftover veggies into a delicious omelet. Whisk together eggs, fold in your choice of veggies (think spinach, mushrooms, and bell peppers), and sprinkle with cheese if you want to add more flavor. This protein-packed option is quick to make and easy on your pocket.

The ability to customize the ingredients allows for a variety of flavor combinations, ensuring that your omelet is always a delight to your taste buds.

12. Tofu Stir-fry

Raw Tofu in Dices.
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via DepositPhotos.com.

For a plant-based protein boost, consider a tofu stir-fry. The beauty of this meal lies in its use of affordable and readily available ingredients such as tofu, assorted vegetables, and simple pantry staples, making it an economical choice for budget-conscious individuals.

 Further, with its minimal cooking time, this meal is a convenient option for those seeking a delicious meal that doesn’t require much time to prepare. Although it is ideal to have your work lunch ready the night before, you could quickly fix this 30 minutes before work.

You can pair this meal with rice or noodles

13. Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Fried Rice. Healthy, low-carb dish made with grated cauliflower, eggs, peas, carrots, onions, garlic and soy sauce seasoning served in frying pan.
Image Credit: Dementieva Iryna/Shutterstock.

Why spend so much on takeout when you can savor the satisfaction of a homemade, budget-friendly meal such as cauliflower fried rice for lunch? The ingredients to make the meal are inexpensive and easily available. 

In under 20 minutes, you can whip up a batch for the entire week. A low-carb alternative, this meal mirrors the taste and texture of traditional fried rice.

Swap out the pricey meat for cauliflower, and you’ll be surprised by the bold flavors that come together in this quick and economical dish.

14. Peanut Butter and Jelly Rice Cakes

crunchy natural peanut butter strawberry jam jelly sandwich with chia seeds on rice cake bread. Proper nutrition diet vegetarian breakfast.
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Here’s a lunch idea that helps you revisit the simplicity of your childhood. Peanut Butter and Jelly Rice Cakes are easy to make and will remind you of your young, carefree days. Spread your favorite peanut butter and jelly or jam on rice cakes for a delightful combination of sweet and savory.

The good thing is that you can get creative with this meal. Experiment with different kinds of butter, jams, and sliced fruits for an extra burst of freshness.

15. Ramen Noodle Stir-fry

Soy Sauce Ramen in Pork Bone Broth.
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Consumer preference data from FoodInsight suggests that Americans are increasingly seeking versatile and customizable meal options. Ramen Noodle Stir-Fry fits perfectly into this trend, allowing frugal individuals to personalize their meals according to taste preferences and dietary needs, all while staying within budget.

You can mix your noodles with soy sauce and sesame oil to add flavor to your meal. With minimal preparation and cooking time, you can enjoy a delicious meal without the hefty price tag.

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