Healthy Lunch for Under $7

In All, Eat Better by Hope Pedraza

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If you’ve ever done an audit on your grocery bill and your thoughts were “geeze it’s expensive to eat healthy!” You’re not alone… Many people believe that eating healthy, buying organic and eating clean is going to break the bank.  While typical “health foods” are generally more expensive than junk food, eating healthy doesn’t have to cost more than the alternative.  A study done by the British Health Journal recently showed that eating healthy costs a person about $550 more per year; this can be a stress on the budget for many people but what this study didn’t take into account was the long-term health care costs of eating a poor diet.  So, in actuality, it is a trade-off; spend a little more on food now to save you on doctor and hospital bills in the future.

If you’re choosing to shop healthier, you should try to get the best bang for your nutritional buck; in other words you need food that is going to be nutritious AND filling, so you aren’t hitting the vending machine in the break room for that 3 PM blood sugar crash or diving into the kids after school snacks.  The key is to get a good balance of carbs, protein and fat.  Here are some balanced, healthy lunch ideas that can literally cost you the same as that meal from the fast food drive through.

Tuna Salad

Full of protein (which keeps you fuller longer) and full of flavor; Mary’s Gone crackers are made with whole grains and seeds and are full of fiber and protein as well so you’re not eating this as empty calories like most chips and crackers.

Total cost: about $5

Tuna Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 pouch of organic, wild caught white tuna (find it at any HEB)
  • teaspoon of olive oil
  • spices of your choice (examples: lemon pepper, cumin and chili powder, salt and pepper)
  • 1 boiled egg, chopped
  • chopped apple, celery, pickles (whatever else you like in your tuna salad!)
  • eat with 15 Mary’s Gone Crackers (find it in the GLuten Free aisle at HEB)
Protein Wrap

Ezekiel bread and tortillas are made with sprouted grains so your body can digest it more easily than regular whole grains,  and is full of protein and fiber; this meal is a perfect balance of carbs, protein and fat,

Total cost: about $6

Protein Wrap Ingredients

  • 1 Ezekiel tortilla (in the frozen bread section at HEB)
  • 2 tablespoon of hummus
  • veggies of your choice (greens, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes etc)
  • 5 ounces of chopped roasted or baked chicken (seasoned however you like)
  • squeeze of olive oil and  lemon or lime juice
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa is a seed (most people think it is a grain), naturally gluten free, and is the only plant based source of 9 essential amino acids, which means this little guy is a complete protein.  It is packed with health proteins and carbs, as well as micronutrients like magnesium, B6, iron, folate and fiber.  Partnering this power food with some flavorful veggies is a win win!  You can choose to make this a vegan dish by keeping the ground turkey out, or swapping it out for a plant based protein substitute like Beyond Meat Beef Crumbles.

Total cost: about $5

Quinoa stuffed pepper Ingredients:

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • ¾ cup of cooked quinoa
  • Mix into the quinoa: 4 ounces of ground turkey (cooked and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper) ¼ cup chopped cashews, chopped green onions to taste, cumin to taste, salt and pepper, 1-2 teaspoons of lime juice