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Lunch- Recipes that are Easy, Healthy, Inexpensive, and Kid-friendly

Updated on December 3, 2012

If you haven’t checked out my breakfast for a week article, head over there and then come back to this article. It’ll give you some background and help to explain how I came up with $37.00 a week for a particular group of food items (you’ll see below)- along with an in-depth description of the fabulous four requirements every recipe needs to adhere to. Here are the requirements:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy and relatively fast, using only a few dishes
  • Healthy
  • Kid friendly

This article is going to give you a grocery list and recipe ideas for a week’s worth of lunches for five people. Many of these ideas will be portable, as the majority of Americans don’t eat lunch at home, but at work or school. This is what makes lunch such a pain!

As a busy mom of three, I’m constantly looking for the most effective way to do something. A small home, a tight budget, and three picky kids doesn’t make shopping and preparing food the easiest of tasks. I don’t want to waste ingredients, serve something processed, or a recipe that takes hours of preparation and dirty dishes.

Grocery List- Lunch for a Week

Martin's Potato Rolls- Hotdog
2 Cans Tuna
Granola Bars (10 count)
Chicken Drumsticks (8-10)
Barbecue Sauce
Cheddar Cheese (1 block)
Pasta (rotini or elbow)
Italian Dressing
Cucumber (1)
Deli turkey meat (1/2 lb)
Apples (bag of 10)

Pantry Items

Onion Powder
Celery Seed
These are items I assume most people have in their cupboards and don't purchase on a weekly basis. The best thing to do is buy these items in bulk or at places like Costco's or BJ's.

Monday- Barbecue Chicken Legs

This recipe will take a bit of prep the night before, but it’s easy to slip a pan of chicken in the oven along with dinner.

  • 1 package (10 count) chicken legs
  • 1 bottle barbecue sauce

Cook for one hour at 350 degrees.
Serving size- 10 drumsticks

Chicken legs are almost as tasty cold as hot! The kids (and you) will welcome the change from a typical sandwich, and probably will get longing stares from across the lunch table. Make sure to include napkins! This serving size will be enough for one day of lunches (five people) plus leftovers for another meal (or two).

Include in the lunch: carrot sticks, some italian dressing for dipping, and a granola bar.

Tuesday- Quick Pasta Salad

  • 1lb box of rotini or elbow pasta
  • 1/2 bottle Italian dressing
  • 2 cups carrot diced
  • 1 cucumber diced
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese cubes

Cook pasta according to directions. Add other ingredients plus salt and pepper. Toss dressing and refrigerate. This recipe will be enough for five lunches plus leftovers.

Include in this lunch: leftover barbecue chicken (just throw it on the salad!)

Wednesday- Kid's Tuna Rolls

To make the tuna salad:

  • 2 cans solid white albacore in water
  • 1 heaping spoonful of mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. celery seed

Servings: enough tuna for five sandwiches

Put tuna on Martin’s Potato Hot dog rolls. The kids will love eating the oddly shaped sandwich over the traditional smushed bread. If you want to make a tuna roll for you, add some cheese or lettuce to spice it up.

To include in this lunch: Triscuits and an apple

Thursday- Protein Punch Lunch

Pack in a portable container a smorgasbord of items:

  • hardboiled egg (the night before, add some eggs to a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for twenty minutes. Cool in the fridge).
  • Cheese cubes
  • Triscuits
  • Granola bar
  • Apple

Friday- Turkey Rollups

Spread some mayo on a piece of lettuce. Add a few thin slices of cheddar and turkey. Roll up tightly and serve with left over pasta salad!

Weekend leftovers

By the end of the week, you should have a bit of pasta salad, martin's rolls, triscuits, cheese, turkey meat, carrot sticks, and hard boiled eggs left. Here are some other ideas:

1. Whip up some egg salad on a lettuce wrap or roll.
2. Pack a lunch of triscuits and cheese and turkey.
3. Make a lettuce wrap with leftover chicken and bring along carrot sticks and dressing.

-Julie DeNeen


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    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Voting up & useful. :) & awesome.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      @everyone!! Thank you for the encouragement. This just goes to show...I was feeling sort of "blah" about this hub. Didn't think anyone would read it or even like it, but I'm so glad it sparked ideas for ya'll. It did take a long time to think of enough lunch food for $37.00 for five people for a whole week!!! That was the hardest part.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Julie - Your hubs are always so enticing. They make my stomach growl.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Julie, I really need to STOP reading your recipe hubs right after lunch! I eat, then see all the yummy food and want to eat MORE! These are great and I will be VUMS! :)

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      You have made this lunch thing really easy. You took a lot of time to write a great article...Thumbs up to you.

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 5 years ago from India

      Great lunch ideas! Love all of the recipes! Those chicken barbecue looks amazingly delicious. Thanks for sharing, voted up and shared.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Loved all the recipes but the Tuna, but I truly just don't care for Tuna fish. But I am sure it is delicious for those who like tuna. am pinning, sharing and voting this up!!