Eating well on a budget can be difficult and lately as I’ve been trying to be more conscious of what I do with and put in my body I am finding that eating well can be expensive and time consuming.

Thankfully, I saw that Natalie D., a trainer at Cambridge Healthworks who has a background in weight loss and management, was offering a complementary workshop called Lunch Money. The description for the class caught my eye because it promised to integrate healthy lunches with inexpensive options.

Another member, Stephanie, who attended the workshop with me, had come because she was stuck in a rut of eating the same thing each day. She also skipped breakfast due to having no time between waking up and getting to work. As for me, I have a problem of planning well for about a week and then I start to rely on buying lunch at one of the restaurants near my work. I also fall into the rut of eating the same things, especially ones that are not so healthy. Natalie took our concerns as a challenged and helped us get on track to plan for healthy lunches (and other meals) without breaking the bank.

Here are a few of her lunch strategies, including a special recipe:

#1 PLAN!

– Pick a day and plan what you are going to eat. Also, this day can be used for cutting up vegetables and preparing other items of food you may need during the week.

– Keep a journal or planner of what food you eat to make sure you know what you are consuming. By doing this, you can help keep yourself accountable and on track.

#2 Make sure you have what you need to pack your lunch

– Lunch bag/cooler – so that it’s fun to pack

– Reusable containers – good for the environment and for your lunch

– Grab and Go Foods – so you’ll eat healthy throughout the day, especially if you have no time for breakfast (fruit, healthy snacks, etc.)

– Planner – to track what you are going to eat

– Thermos for soups

– Ice pack to keep food cool, especially if it’s going to sit on your desk until lunch time

The Golden Rule – Somethings every lunch (or meal) should include:

– 1 serving whole grain/fiber

– 1 serving of protein

– 2 full cups of Vegetables/Fruits (fresh, frozen, canned – doesn’t matter just make sure you eat them!)

By following this rule, you can make sure you are getting a healthy balance of filling foods.


Tips for preparing food to save time and money and curb your hunger:

– Cook in bulk – use a crockpot to make a large amount of soup or create a salad that will be good for 3-4 days

– Keep healthy snacks to leave at work (apples, bananas, trail mix, etc.)

– Cook dinner and make your lunch at the same time while all your supplies are already out


Finally, here is a recipe for soup from Natalie…


Nat’s Spring Cleaning Soup

– 1 box of College Inn’s Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

– 1 cup Frozen Spinach

– 1 cup Frozen Corn

– 1 cup Frozen Green Beans

– ½ cup of onions

– ½ cup of red peppers

– 1 can of button mushrooms

– ½ cup of Pinto beans

– 1 cup of Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

– ¼ cup of Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese

– Italian Seasoning, a dash of salt, pepper, or any spice that you like

– Extra water if needed


You can prepare the soup by putting it together in a large pot and boiling.


This soup has 6 cups of veggies and makes approximately 4 servings.




What do you pack for lunch? What do you do to make sure you eat a healthy meal?