Student Lunch Ideas: Quick, Cheap, Nutritious, and Delicious!

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Student Lifehacks
student lunch ideas to go that are quick and cheap

We often tend to grab something on the go to last between breakfast and dinner, and we call it a student lunch. It can be a chocolate bar, a sandwich, or even fast-food (holy moly). As students, we want our lunches to be quick to prepare, cheap, nutritious, and tasty. And it’s nonetheless possible to find a recipe that fits all these criteria! Below are some recipes that any student would appreciate.

Nowadays, when some of the enrolled students have online classes from home, learning how to prepare a yummy and wholesome lunch at home has become a survival skill! You shouldn’t always rely on delivery and leftovers from yesterday (or your household members to feed you). So master a few of the recipes below, and you’ll be able to fix a satisfying lunch without spending a fortune.

How Does an Ideal Student Lunch Look Like?


Tasty meals in a friendly company can give us many emotions and fantastic experiences (especially in Michelin restaurants). However, first things first, food is a source of nutrients (minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates). In college, we continuously learn something new, do assignments, and write texts. We obviously need many nutrients to feed our brains and bodies, and no muesli bar can ever suffice. So make sure your lunches are nutritious and varied. 

We have already discussed what foods are the best for keeping you healthy and maintaining your focus: nuts, avocados, blueberries, flax seeds, and dark chocolate. Suppose you can’t include these elements in your lunch. In that case, you can have them as a snack (nuts and berries are especially great for that), while flax seeds, or just any other kind of seeds, are awesome as a topping for salads. Using spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and curry will boost your meal’s nutritional value—these are perfect for adding to your rice or quinoa.

Choosing healthy food options might be difficult, especially if it is not in your habit or you are short on time. If you stick to the recipes selected below, eating food that actually sustains you (and not just tires or causes digestion problems) will not be an issue.

nutritious and healthy student lunch
Food photo created by valeria_aksakova –


Well, we are students, and we want to keep our budgets moderate. We can’t afford a 15-dollar lunch every day, even if it consists of the healthiest foods on earth. Often student cafeterias cannot spoil us with their prices either, so we tend to turn to cheap supermarket options. However, home-prep lunches will help you save a dollar (for other ways of saving money as a student, check this article. Moreover, you can control the quality of what you eat.   

Easy to Make

None of these recipes will take more than 15 minutes of your time. With some, cooking times are longer, but the prep time is kept at its minimum! You will be able to prepare these lunches in advance or quickly set them up if you already have the ingredients in your fridge.

And it goes without saying—any student lunch recipe should be soooo delicious! 

Having these three rules in mind, we’ve prepared a list of fantastic lunch ideas for students—you won’t get bored with them! Some of the options are vegetarian and vegan, so hopefully, you will find a few recipes that satisfy your needs and tastes! Of course, you can always check cookbooks for inspiration, but these lunch ideas are actually cookable.

These are our top picks, but you should further explore these youtube channels and/or recipe websites for more ideas. Or create your own based on the ingredients or techniques used for these student lunches. Not all of these recipes use American units. In case you’re stuck figuring out grams in cups, use this simple converter.

1. Vegan Bento Boxes by Pick Up Limes 

These five ideas prepared by a nutritionist are super quick to do in the morning before you take off to your classes. All these are an excellent fit for your lunch box! If you are staying home, you won’t spend more than 10-15 minutes preparing your deliciously looking and wholesome meals: wraps, rice meals, salads, hummus, and veggies. And you should not have any doubts that these recipes are built to ensure you a healthy diet.

For more ideas of quick and cheap meals, check this video by Pick Up Limes—Meal prep under 2$ per serving! Woah!

2. A Top Selection of Packed Lunches from Liezl Jayne Strydom

These are some non-vegetarian to-go lunch options that are so simple to make. You don’t need to be anywhere close to a professional chef to enjoy a solid homemade meal. In this video, you will learn how to make quinoa bowls, salad wraps, hummus sandwiches, and so much more. It is also effortless to build upon these recipes and change some ingredients (in case of any allergies, or you just don’t have this or that in your fridge).

3. Prep-ahead Meals from Goodful 

If you are fond of solid lunches, check this selection! These meals are easy to prepare in advance (and as promised, it won’t take more than 15 minutes, but the cooking time will be longer). Each meal will last you for a couple of days, so it saves you a lot of time in the end! Or share with your family members. Needless to say, each meal is high in proteins and greens to keep you ready for studying.

4. Halloumi Sandwich

Bored with ham and cheese sandwiches? This recipe will bring your sandwich-making skills to a new level: a halloumi sandwich is tasty, easy to make, and very filling. Obviously, you can choose any bun you like for this recipe and combine it with a nice salad as a side dish. 15 minutes—and a satisfying lunch is ready! Cook it on the spot or prepare it in the morning to pack it with you.

5. Baked Sweet Potatoes 

With sweet potatoes, you can make much more than just delicious fries or a side dish! Use this Jamie Oliver’s recipe as a foundation for your further experiments with baked sweet potatoes since you can invent as many fillings as you want! 10 minutes of prep time; then you wait for it to get tasty in the oven! It’s so easy to make and also incredibly fulfilling.

Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, super tasty, and not expensive—well, there is a whole serenade for them. 

So stock up on sweet potatoes and be creative with the fillings (you can grab whatever is left in your fridge for a filling or look for other recipes).

All these student lunch recipes are really quick, wholesome, and tasty. You can easily master them, and you won’t need to solve the conundrum of “what to get for lunch” anymore. Just remember that good nutrition is a step towards fruitful learning, so don’t skip your lunch! 

Iliana K