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12 Healthy Lunches Anyone on a Budget Can Make

12 Healthy Lunches Anyone on a Budget Can Make

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Your wallet can thank us later.

A high grocery bill is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to eating healthy. You can shop the sales and make basic meals, but if you aren’t enthusiastic about what you bring to the office then what’s the point?

It’s significantly harder to stick to a healthy eating plan and avoid stepping out to buy lunch when the meal in your bag is boring. To keep lunches delicious and budget-friendly, we rounded up our favorite healthy lunches that won’t break the bank. Plus, many of them use similar ingredients—so you’ll be able to enjoy these with items you have on hand.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Waffle Iron Turkey Melt Panini

Ooey-gooey Colby Jack cheese balances out the salty bacon and tart apple slices in this lunchtime favorite. If you don’t have a waffle maker, this can easily be made in a panini press or grilled-cheese style in a nonstick pan.

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi

This pasta-like meal is easy to pull together and pack for a work lunch. Spaghetti squash is an inexpensive, low-carb option and pairs with surprisingly simple ingredients for a perfect bite.

Pan Bagnat Tuna Sandwich

Tuna sandwiches have been your go-to cheap meal since college, but our version feels extra flavorful. Egg, lettuce, tomato, and salty tuna salad come together seamlessly, and it tastes even better if you make it the night before.

Lemon-Thyme Chicken Salad

This classic chicken salad can be used in a multitude of ways: scoop it over a bed of greens, spread it over bread, or even build our Chicken Salad Lunch Box. It’s the best way to stretch leftover baked chicken breasts or a grocery store rotisserie chicken.

Steak Salad Niçoise

We took this classic French salad made with staple ingredients like eggs, olives, potatoes, and green beans, and turned it on its head. Toss in thinly-sliced steak for an indulgent meal that won’t break the bank.

Orange-Almond Chicken-and-Cabbage Bowls

Just six ingredients will become your new favorite lunch to prep and pack. Fresh orange slices bring brightness, while coleslaw mix and almonds offer unexpected crunch. Plus, store-bought dressing keeps this recipe quick and easy (read: perfect for throwing together on weekday mornings).

Greek Slaw and Chicken Pitas

Toss feta cheese, cabbage, and green onions in a light, lemony dressing and pair with rotisserie chicken for a simple lunchtime sandwich. Add additional veggies for something different, and easily assemble during your lunch hour.

The Cheeseburger Salad

When you’re looking for something meaty that doesn’t break the bank, this is the salad for you. All of the ingredients are reminiscent of your favorite fast food meal—beef patty and cheese, plus lettuce, tomato, and onion topped with crumbled potato chips. Drizzle on the ketchup and mayo mixture for the ultimate indulgence.

Chickpea Panzanella

Crunchy croutons and creamy feta cheese are essential in this hearty vegetarian main. Canned chickpeas and artichoke hearts are budget-friendly, and it only takes 20 minutes to assemble your plate.

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach

Ground turkey is a fantastic, cheap alternative to more expensive meats like steak or sausage. For a healthier pasta, we swapped in spaghetti squash for classic lasagna noodles and added spinach for a vitamin boost.

One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes

A can of diced tomatoes is brought to life with onions, garlic, oregano, and chicken stock, and cooking the pasta directly in the sauce adds major flavor. Brighten the dish with parmesan and spinach for the perfect one-pot meal.

Mini Bow Ties with Bacon and Peas

Carrots, peas, and onions get next-level flavor when cooked in bacon fat. Stir in cream cheese for the ultimate, veggie-packed dish that gets more cheesy and delicious with every bite.

12 Clean Eating Recipes For Weight Loss: Meal Prep For The Week

Meal prep your way to weight loss with these clean eating recipes and tips to help you create healthy lunches and dinner ahead so you can save money, time, and sanity all while reaching your health and fitness goals!

This post may contain affiliate links that help keep this content free. [Full Disclosure]

Nothing will derail your diet faster than being hungry and having absolutely nothing prepared.

What Is Clean Eating?

If you&rsquore not familiar with &ldquoclean eating,&rdquo let&rsquos go ahead and clear that up now. Eating clean isn&rsquot a strict diet that eliminates food groups. It&rsquos more about focusing on crowding out the junk food with healthy whole foods.

On a clean eating plan, you&rsquoll avoid processed junk foods and sugar to a minimum and eat more fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.

At first, it may feel like eating healthy and clean takes too much effort and is too expensive, but with a little planning and weekend meal prep, it&rsquos not all that difficult or hard on your wallet!

Healthy Meal Prep Tips

Plan Your Meals

Take a few minutes on Sunday or Monday to choose your recipes for the week and get the grocery shopping out the way.

Make it easy on yourself by selecting recipes that you can eat more than once, or that you know you can use for multiple meals.

Chose recipes with vegetables that are in season. Save them to a Pinterest board or screenshot your favorites-whatever works best for you. Just find a system!

Chop Your Veggies & Buy in Bulk

Often you can buy in bulk and save money.

Produce can be costly, but it does go on sale-watch for ads! Wash and chop all of your fruits and vegetables for the week the moment you get home from the store.

Don&rsquot put it off! If you hate this chore or you&rsquod like to save a little cash frozen fruits and veggies will work just fine!

They are picked when fresh and full of vitamins and nutrients!

Don&rsquot Spend All Weekend in the Kitchen

Cook a bunch of brown rice, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, and quinoa on Sunday for the week&rsquos lunch and dinner meals. These are healthy starches that will last up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Do this, and you&rsquoll be ahead of the game!

Plus you&rsquoll always have something to eat in case you get hungry and tempted to drive through McDonald&rsquos!

Batch cook chicken and vegetables in the oven to save time later. Chicken can be used in all sorts of recipes from salads to soups! This is a huge time-saver!

Stock up on shredded chicken by using this super easy crockpot recipe!

Just take 4-6 boneless chicken breasts and add 1/2 cup water or chicken broth for every pound of chicken.

Put everything in the slow cooker for 5 hours on low or 3 hours on high. Make sure you shred the chicken while it&rsquos warm! Portion it out into 2 cup portions in an airtight container. (Most recipes call for this amount.)

It&rsquos ok for the fridge for four days or 4 months in the freezer.

Make your snacks ahead of time and portion them out! It&rsquos easy to go crazy grazing! Keep a few baggies or containers in your car or at work so you&rsquoll be prepared when hunger hits!

RELATED: For more clean eating recipes for breakfast, lunch & dinner, see this popular post: 50 Clean Eating Recipes

Containers Matter

Don&rsquot get the cheap ones! You&rsquoll be sorry when you have to play the &ldquoWhere&rsquos That Lid&rdquo game later!

Make it easy on yourself by using perfectly portioned reusable meal prep containers. If you prefer glass I&rsquod go with this Glasslock set.

Use the Crockpot!

Or slow cooker. Whatever name you prefer or model you choose! If you don&rsquot have a crockpot, you need to get one -ASAP! Nothing beats a healthy meal that the crockpot simmered to perfection!

Getting Started

Sometimes the first step is figuring out where to start. It&rsquos easy to get overwhelmed, thinking you must make all of your meals in advance.

The truth is, you don&rsquot have to!

As a health coach, I advise clients to start with one small step at a time. Consider starting with the meal that will make the most difference to you.

Do you have a hard time resisting the drive-through for a quick breakfast on your daily commute? Breakfast may be the place for you to start. Psst: this is a good one to try:)

Or do you struggle with eating a healthy lunch because there is too much temptation at the office? Then you may want to start by prepping lunches.

Remember, small steps lead to significant results!

Need a Clean Eating Shopping List?

Click Here!

Ready to cook? Here are twelve healthy meal prep recipes for lunch or dinner!

Healthy Lunch Recipes

There’s more to lunch than sandwiches and salads (although those aren't so bad, either). Whether you’re at home, headed to the office or packing a brown bag lunch for school, these delicious recipes are sure to fit the bill.

Related To:

Photo By: Con Poulos Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Min Kwon ©2015,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Min Kwon ©2015,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Jason Clairy ©Clairy Productions Inc.

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Jason Clairy ©Clairy Productions Inc.

Chipotle Veggie Burritos

Burritos can be a healthy, vegetarian dish when you load them up with wholesome ingredients like rice, beans and corn.

Lemon-Herb Rice Salad

Fresh herbs, like mint and basil, add bursts of fresh flavor to this simple salad. Make sure you leave room for leftovers &mdash the dish tastes even better the next day!

Miso Soup

Forget take-out and the packaged stuff. Our Miso Soup is a cinch to make, and clocks in at just 115 calories per serving.

Keto Tuna Salad Cups

Tuna salad meets BLT in this keto-friendly mashup. Hang on to that oil in the tuna can for a flavor bonus.

Lightened-Up Stuffed Peppers

White rice, lentils and ground beef bulk up the filling for this gluten-free lunch.

Tex-Mex Chicken Quinoa

Top a mixture of cooked chicken and quinoa with heart-healthy avocado and black beans for a filling lunch that&rsquos ready in a flash.

Kale and Apple Salad

Veggie Lover’s Club Sandwich

Stacked high with veggies, this sandwich is as appealing to look at as it is to eat. With luscious avocado spread and smoky tofu, there's no bacon or deli meat required.

California Grain Salad

This sunny salad can brighten up the dreariest desk lunch. Thanks to rice cereal, veggies and goat cheese, there&rsquos a combination of flavors and textures to enjoy.

Vegetarian Chili

Beans and vegetables add a rich bite to this meatless chili. With fiery spices and a dash of hot sauce, it's guaranteed to power you through the afternoon.

Nordic Shrimp Toast

These decorative toasts have all the flavors of Nordic cuisine and no foraging is required! Delicate shrimp get double-hacked: first, they are quickly cooked in a covered pot off the stovetop and then sliced en masse using a trick involving two plastic lids. A protein-packed snack or part of lunch.

Chicken Tacos with Avocado Salad

These quick-and-easy tacos make the perfect midday meal. Packed with protein and veggies &mdash and topped with salsa and sour cream &mdash they&rsquore healthy and flavorful.

Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

Enjoy pizza night a little more with Katie Lee&rsquos gluten-free, cauliflower version.

Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Wrap

Israeli Couscous with Cherries

Gem-like fresh cherries, parsley, red onions and scallions make for a fresh and colorful salad when combined with Israeli couscous.

Breadless Peanut Butter and Chia Jam Sandwiches

Satisfy a PB&J craving with these high-fiber sandwiches (bread not necessary). The chia jam is quick to make and can be stored for up to 3 days- spread on anything you would regularly eat with jam to add extra fiber.

Pork and Broccoli Grain Bowl

A fresh, slightly spicy grain bowl adds a fun zing to your lunch break. The pork, quinoa and sweet potato combo are enough to keep you satisfied, but not so heavy that you&rsquoll fall asleep at your desk.

Sweet Potato Toast with Steak, Roasted Peppers and Arugula

Turn leftover steak into a bright and healthy, low-carb lunch with this sweet potato toast topped with sweet red peppers and spicy arugula.

Vegetable Noodle Soup

Make this childhood favorite in less than 20 minutes.

Garden Egg Salad

Celery, radishes, romaine and sprouts add a heart-healthy crunch to this vegetarian lunch. Don&rsquot skip the mustard in this egg salad &mdash just a little bit adds loads of flavor!

Ellie's Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Lentil Toast

Though we love avocado toast, we&rsquore always excited to try fun alternatives. This recipe uses mashed lentils, tomato and scallion for a protein-packed flavor punch.

Broccoli Melts

These ooey-gooey vegetarian sandwich melts are made with broccolini and two kinds of cheese, but they clock in at just 261 calories and 12 grams of fat each.

Monte Cristo Crepes

A raspberry mustard and side salad make an excellent accompaniment to these cheesy, meaty crepes.

Antipasti Penne

This healthy, budget-friendly pasta dinner is inspired by pricey antipasti platters. We love the spicy-garlicky flavor the soppressata brings &mdash lots of bang for your buck!

Grilled Spiced Chicken and Plums

Fire up the grill &mdash and cook more than just meat! Sweet stone fruits (like plums) go great with honey-glazed chicken.

52 Healthy Meals in 12 Minutes or Less

Being hungry sucks (it’s a scientific fact). So why spend hours cooking a gourmet feast when a nutritious meal could be only 12 minutes away from getting from the kitchen to your plate? Skip the grumbling tummy, the hangriness, and the cranky guests, and serve up any one of these 52 healthy meals that are so quick and easy, you’ll wonder why you ever ordered takeout.

1. Cacao and Blueberry Smoothie

Um, YUM. This smoothie is full of amazing flavors from blueberry, vanilla, coconut milk, and of course, cacao powder. You can whip this up in under five minutes, but if you’re especially lazy in the morning, just make at night to take on the go the next day.

2. Honey Lemon Ricotta Breakfast Toast

Say goodbye to boring toast. This version dresses up a piece of bread with ricotta, lemon, figs, honey, and pistachios for a fancy (but super fast) breakfast treat. Pro tip: these guys work great as apps if you put them on crostinis instead.

3. Poached Egg and Avocado Breakfast Salad

You can have salad for breakfast, too. Just whip up a poached egg (or any other style you love) and toss it in a bowl with some tomatoes, lettuce, cooked quinoa, avo, and pistachios for an added crunch. Just cook the quinoa the night before if you want it truly under 12 minutes.

4. Healthy Single Serving Blueberry Muffin

This healthy breakfast is a little more of a healthy dessert, but we’ll let it slide. Made from healthier subs like sorghum flour, applesauce, almond milk, and flaxseed, this quick microwavable muffin is a guilt-free way to start your morning.

5. Pina Colada Yogurt Parfaits

Take a trip to the tropics with this pineapple and coconut flavored breakfast. We love pairing these sweet fruits with the bitterness of Greek yogurt to balance out the flavors.

6. Blue Corn Breakfast Tacos With Scrambled Eggs

It doesn’t get much better (or easier!) than breakfast tacos. This version stuffs eggs, avocado, and smoked salmon inside of blue corn tortillas for a rainbow colored breakfast. Feel free to switch up the recipe with some of your favorite fix-ins, too.

7. Homemade Flavored Instant Oatmeal

This blogger has recipes for four different flavors of awesome instant oats: blueberry vanilla, chocolate banana, walnut and date, and strawberries and cream. You can store them in the fridge for up to five days and make them in minutes whenever you’re ready!

8. Peanut Butter Breakfast Toast Four Ways

Peanut butter toast might be a classic, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! These four variations are awesome for breakfast, or a post workout snack. If you’re gluten-free swap out regular toast for a rice cake or a gluten-free bread.

9. Egg Breakfast Wraps with Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato

These “wraps” are a creative and gluten-free way to hold your B.A.T. (bacon, avo, tomato) combo. Instead of using a wrap, the blogger uses an egg “tortilla,” which is essentially an egg-only omelet that you wrap up. This one will make you feel very fancy.

10. Turmeric Tofu Scramble

This vegan scramble is perfect for rushed mornings or lazy-night dinners. Just combine tofu with lots of yummy spices and veggies and eat it ontop of some avo-toast. If you’re vegetarian, not vegan, feel free to throw some scrambled eggs in, too.

11. Paleo Sweet Potato Waffle Breakfast Sandwich

Leggo that Eggo! You can make this killer sweet potato waffle breakfast sandwich in the time it takes that frozen waffle to thaw. Protein-rich and full of good fats, it’s a great way to fill up on the good stuff at the start of the day so you’re not breaking out the snacks an hour later.

12. Whole30 Breakfast Bowl

Whole30 may be one of the toughest diets out there, but that doesn’t mean Whole30 recipes aren’t delicious! This quick breakfast bowl is a yummy twist on your standard bowl of oats: cook up a mashed banana with two eggs then throw it in a bowl with some apples, almond butter, coconut flakes, and cinnamon. YUM.

13. Banana Berry Smoothies

With all the craze surrounding juice and smoothies these days, it can seem daunting to make one in your own kitchen, but there are so many easy recipes that’ll make you realize how far that is from the truth. This version combines bananas, blueberries, raspberry sherbet, frozen yogurt, and juice for a flavorful breakfast or pre-workout treat.

14. Avocado Tortilla Breakfast Pizza

Pizza for breakfast? Yes, really. This “pizza crust” is actually a flat tortilla that you pop in the oven for 10 minutes with some mashed avo, grated cheese, and an egg on top. Best brunch ever.

15. Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato and Feta Omelet

Omelets are a lazy cook’s best friend. They’re easy, healthy, and seemingly fancy. This Mediterranean-inspired version is loaded with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, feta, and red chili flakes for a spicy and super filling breakfast.

16. Strawberry Chocolate Almond Acai Bowls

Smoothies don’t have to be sipped with a straw! This colorful Acai bowl packs in some sneaky greens (spinach or kale) and lots of healthy staples like Goji berries, Acai powder, nuts, and berries.

17. Two-Ingredient Pancakes

Yep, you read that right. Just two ingredients: banana and egg. These “pancakes,” are super easy to make and you can customize them with whatever add-ins your heart desires. Mixing in some protein powder makes these guys a great post-workout snack, too.

18. Simple Muesli Breakfast

Never heard of museli? Just think of it as a different type of oatmeal. This version packs in yogurt, nuts, and berries in addition to the classic base so your breakfast will be far from boring.

19. PB & J No-Bake Oatmeal Bars

Who doesn’t miss a packed PB & J sandwich in their lunch box every day? These easy no-bake snack bars will allow you to indulge your nostalgia. If you make a big batch on Sunday you’ll have a week’s worth of snacks or breakfasts set.

20. 10-Minute Italian Quinoa Salad

Once you cook up some quinoa, it’s only 10 minutes to this easy lunch recipe. It’s full awesome flavors and nutrients from onions, peppers, tomatoes, and artichokes. And because you can serve it cold, this is an awesome next-day leftover to bring to work!

21. One Pot Spiralized Zucchini Noodle Soup

This is about as far from packaged Ramen as you can get. Spiralize some zucchini and add it to a pot full of vegetable broth, miso packets, and asparagus. Throw some Sriracha, sesame seeds, and green onion on top for a trendy way to warm up on a cold day.

22. 10-Minute Tuna Wrap

Wraps are one of the best ways to make a quick (and healthy!) lunch. This one is filled with tuna, homemade avocado-tahini sauce, lettuce, cucumber, and bell pepper. Crunchy and delicious!

23. Avocado Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Gluten free? You can have wraps, too! Load up some lettuce-wraps with some avo-chicken salad (a healthier swap for mayo) and garnish with radishes, lime, sprouts, and jalapeño (if you like it spicy!).

24. Turkey, Avocado, and Goat Cheese Panini

Few things in this world are better than goat cheese. And combined with avocado, turkey, and warm bread? That’s next level.

25. Open-Faced Avocado BLT Sandwich

This open-faced sandwich is a fun update on the BLT. Tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, and bacon sit on top of creamy hummus for a great way to make a quick healthy lunch.

26. Sun-Dried Tomato Spinach Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled cheese can be healthy too, we promise! Using whole-grain or gluten-free bread, low-fat cheeses, and adding in some veggies are all ways to enjoy a cleaner version of your favorite childhood meal.

27. Sweet and Savory Grilled Cheese

This tasty sweet and savory lunch is as easy to make as it sounds. Grab some white cheddar cheese, slap it onto whole grain bread, and bring in some butter and a green apple, and there you have it! Swap out the type of cheese as your please for a perfect afternoon meal.

28. Chicken Tortilla Lettuce Wraps

This ingredient list may seem hefty, not what it really does is leave you a lot of room for experimentation. The basics are a head of lettuce, chicken breast, cheddar cheese, and tortillachips. The lettuce serves as the bed for all of your tasty ingredients, and you couldn’t ask for a healthier twist on this great dish.

29. Creamy Vegan Corn and Red Pepper Blender Soup

Rainy, cold day outside? Stay in and cook up this tasty soup (it’s so quick you won’t even have to pause your Netflix to do so). This spicy, vegan concoction packs in tons of vegetables, too.

30. Easy Margherita Flatbread Pizza

Have you ever met someone who doesn’t love Margherita pizza?! We haven’t, so this is basically the perfect (and healthy-ish) dish for any pizza lover (that’s everyone, right?). The base of naan gives this pie a unique flavor that blends well with the mozzarella.

31. Easy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Whether it’s your side or a main dish that you add a little protein to (try an egg!), this roasted sweet potato is the perfect mid-day treat. The blogger keeps it simple (sour cream, chives, parmesan), and if you’d rather top it with some healtheir fixings, use an avocado or some Greek yogurt dressing in place of sour cream.

32. Chicken Hummus Wrap

Truly the simplest (and tastiest) wrap out there, this dish combines chicken and hummus to satisfy all your savory cravings. The simplicity is great because guess what? You’re free to add anything else you want.

33. Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Pinwheels

This meal might look fancy, but it’s prep couldn’t be easier. These tasty pinwheels (or whole wrap, if you choose to make it that way) is filled with vegan cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach. The nutrients here are off the charts, and so is the flavor.

34. Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Swapping out a higher carb wrap for lettuce is the key to lunch if you’d rather save your carbs for dessert today. These spicy wraps have a Thai twist, and though you’ll need a few spices and some ingredients like shredded cabbage and hoisin sauce, this will not let you down (and you can make more to save for later).

35. 5-Min Spicy Asian Chicken Salad Paleo Friendly

Following Paleo? No problem, we’ve got your back with this spicy Asian chicken salad. It’s super easy to prepare (use bagged salad mix, sesame seeds, carrots, and chicken) combined with a few sauces, and there you have it: a tasty lunch with a bit of a kick.

36. Avocado Caprese Chicken Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette

If you’re tired of salads (we don’t blame you, they can get old if you don’t switch it up), this is the one you need. This combo bowl packs in chicken, mozzarella balls, and avocado on top of a bed of lettuce. Talk about getting all your nutrients (and flavor) in in one meal!

12 Healthy Dinners for Under $3 per Serving

Sometimes it feels like you can only eat healthy if you're willing to spend a lot of money. Avocados are all the rage, but they're also a dollar a pop—even more if you're buying organic. Not to mention all the overpriced salad chains, $10 smoothies, and the fancy spices and vinegars that may or may not turn you into a wellness influencer. (Spoiler: They Will Not.) With all of these things taking over social media, it can seem like eating healthy on the cheap is impossible.

I'm here to tell you that it definitely isn't. There are tons of hacks that registered dietitians use to save money at the grocery store, like stocking up on items when they're on sale and shopping seasonal produce. But even if you don't use these tricks, there still ways to eat well without breaking the bank.

Really, it's about having a series of tried-and-true, inexpensive recipes in your arsenal. The internet is rife with budget bloggers making healthy meals with hardly anything, because they rely on simple staples like beans and rice as well as affordable produce and protein sources. These 14 recipes are so cheap, each one costs less than $3 per serving to make. (Either the blogger calculated and provided this information, or we did the math using prices from Peapod.) They all make multiple servings, which means they're great for meal prep. And, they're filled with all the fiber, protein, and healthy carbs you need to feel good.

Cooking For One: 22 Super Easy and Healthy Meals for Solo Dining

Making healthy meals for one isn’t always easy. Sure, there’s always takeout, but it’s not the best option — for your wallet or your health. Cooking for one can be a bit of a challenge.

That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the best easy meals for one, broken down by meal time. This means you could have cinnamon roll Greek yogurt pancakes for breakfast, a Mediterranean grilled cheese for lunch, and a vegetarian burrito bowl for dinner.

And dessert? Like we’d forget about that. There’s a 1-minute coffee cake that’s yours for the taking. (Looking for a slew of sweets for one? We’ve got more mug recipes here.)

Tie on your apron, baby, because these healthy recipes are going to make cooking for one easy as pie.

1. Mac and cheese in a mug

You’ll never eye the blue box again. This creamy mac and cheese gets made entirely in the microwave for those nights when you need comfort food, stat.

If you have macaroni, shredded cheese, and milk at home, you’re ready to make this. Whole-wheat pasta and the addition of frozen broccoli or a side salad gives it a healthier twist. Opt for vegan cheese if you have lactose intolerance or prefer to skip the dairy.

2. Vegetarian burrito bowl

If eating at Chipotle is burning a hole in your wallet, it’s time to try your hand at making burrito bowls at home.

By combining brown rice, black beans, salsa, cheese, and diced avocado, you can make a healthy, delicious Mexican-inspired meal in just 5 minutes — and for a whole lot less money than eating out.

Add leftover tofu or chicken for extra protein and a dollop of Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Enjoy over shredded greens for more fiber and other health benefits.

3. Egg fried rice

We’ve heard of many mug meals, but fried rice is a new one. Save yourself the Chinese food delivery fee and try this healthier homemade version. It can be ready in less than 10 minutes (if you’ve got some cooked rice on hand) and eggs are an EGG-cellent complete protein source.

4. Pasta for one

Let’s admit it: There’s nothing quite as comforting as eating pasta. You can whip up this simple pasta dish in just 10 minutes. Parmesan melds with some pasta cooking water to create a creamy sauce. A generous grind of black pepper is the final touch.

Adding some fresh spinach or swapping in bean-based pasta will up the nutrient content too.

Share on Pinterest Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

5. Blueberry paleo protein waffle

Skip the frozen waffles and whip up these protein-packed waffles instead. Vanilla protein powder and substitutes such as coconut flour in place of wheat flour make these a sweet and filling a.m. meal that packs a nutritional punch.

If you want to skip the syrup, a drizzle of honey and lemon will brighten it up.

6. Mushroom and herb omelet

Who says omelets need to be complicated? This fancy-looking recipe calls for only eggs, mushrooms, sour cream, and some of your favorite herbs. Fresh herbs make all the difference in taste. Plus, mushrooms and eggs are among the few food sources of vitamin D.

7. Sweet potato bacon kale hash

This restaurant-quality breakfast is packed with hearty (and nutrient-packed) ingredients: bacon, sweet potatoes, a runny fried egg, and crispy kale. Best of all, everything cooks in one pan, meaning minimal cleanup after you devour it.

8. Peach crisp smoothie

Peaches are an underrated fruit when it comes to smoothies — berries seem to get all the love. But that’s about to change with this recipe.

A frozen peach (or use fresh if you’ve got it!) gets blended with heart-healthy walnuts, oats, and banana for a frozen breakfast with plenty of staying power.

9. Banana-oat baked French toast

This is a solo breakfast that defies categorization. Not quite French toast and not quite oatmeal, this dessert-like breakfast will have more fiber if you use whole-grain bread. Top with a spoonful of almond butter for a sweet and nutty boost, plus a dose of heart-healthy fat to keep you satisfied.

10. No-bake vanilla breakfast cookies

Some days you wake up and your sweet tooth immediately kicks in. These breakfast cookies are the perfect solution, especially since they can be either eaten right away or placed in the freezer or fridge for 30 minutes while you finish getting ready.

Grab ’em on the way out the door and enjoy a sprinkle-filled morning. Your 10-year-old self would be so jealous (and your adult self will appreciate that the balance of fiber, protein and healthy-fat keeps you energized all morning!)

11. Cinnamon roll Greek yogurt pancakes

Pancakes might seem like a cooking-for-the-masses breakfast, but with the right proportions, they can easily become a solo meal.

This sweet cinnamon stack looks decadent but is hiding healthier ingredients: Plain Greek yogurt, protein powder, egg whites, and rolled oats pack in protein to power through your day. Who needs a boxed mix?

5. Spaghetti

There’s a couple different ways you could go with this. You could buy some frozen meatballs (I like the turkey ones from Aldi) and put them in your slow cooker with a jar of sauce for a few hours. Then when it’s time for dinner, just boil up your favorite pasta (following the directions on the box) and dinner is complete.

Or you could brown up some ground beef or turkey, drain any excess grease, and pour in a jar of sauce. You can add garlic powder or italian seasoning for extra zest. I also like to add a can of diced tomatoes. Let it all simmer for 10 minutes or so.

If you don’t want to use jarred sauce, they sell seasoning packets that require you only add a small can of tomato paste and some water, and it turns into sauce.

You can serve your pasta with frozen garlic bread that you bake up if you want.

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Just throw everything into your slow cooker except the beans and let it do its thing. After a few hours, dump the beans in, garnish with whatever your heart desires, and dinner is done.

Estimated recipe cost: $9.90

12 Fresh Homemade Pasta Recipes

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