I'm a Dietitian on a Budget & These Are My Favorite Anti-Inflammatory Lunch Recipes

Chickpea Tuna Salad
Photo: Photography / Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling / Ruth Blackburn

As a registered dietitian on a budget, I've learned how to make the money I spend on food go as far as possible. One of the most effective ways I save money is by making my lunch rather than buying it to enjoy at home or take to the office. And many lunch favorites like salads, sandwiches and rice bowls are not only packable, but they are also nutritious and customizable.

Eating in a way that helps reduce inflammation doesn't have to be expensive—in fact, many ingredients like canned fish, beans, frozen berries and rice pack an anti-inflammatory punch without breaking the bank. To help me save time as well as money, I prep ahead the components of my lunches in a big batches so I can have it at-the-ready when I head into work or have a break between meetings at home. This might include making a big batch of brown rice or lentils, roasted vegetables or tuna salad to use throughout the week. Or when I'm really strapped for time, recipes like our Chickpea Salad Sandwich and Salmon-Stuffed Avocados take less than 15 minutes to pull together. It's possible to eat in a way that aligns with your nutritional goals no matter your budget, and for more beginner- and budget-friendly recipes and dietitian tips, check out Thrifty.

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Chickpea Tuna Salad

Chickpea Tuna Salad
Photography / Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling / Ruth Blackburn

This chickpea tuna salad with capers, feta and cucumber makes for the perfect lunch to pack for work or school. You can prep the salad the night before (just be sure to keep the spinach separate and dress the salad right before serving).

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Bean & Veggie Taco Bowl


Simple brown rice and black beans serve as the backdrop for sautéed veggies and taco toppings!

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Salmon-Stuffed Avocados


Canned salmon is a valuable pantry staple and a practical way to include heart-healthy, omega-3-rich fish in your diet. Here, we combine it with avocados in an easy no-cook meal.

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Veggie & Hummus Sandwich

Veggie & Hummus Sandwich

This mile-high vegetable and hummus sandwich makes the perfect heart-healthy vegetarian lunch to go. Mix it up with different flavors of hummus and different types of vegetables depending on your mood.

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Chopped Power Salad with Chicken

Chopped Power Salad with Chicken
Jason Donnelly

Enjoy this filling and colorful salad for lunch or dinner. The dressing gets made in the same bowl that the salad is tossed in, so the greens absorb every bit of flavor.

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Lemony Lentil Salad with Feta

Lemony Lentil Salad
Jason Donnelly

This delicious and healthy lentil salad comes together in just 30 minutes and makes a wonderful hot-weather meal. Serve with whole-wheat pitas, if desired.

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Salmon Rice Bowl

Salmon Rice Bowl
Ali Redmond

Inspired by the viral TikTok trend, this salmon rice bowl makes for a tasty lunch or dinner. With healthy ingredients like instant brown rice, salmon and veggies, you'll have a flavorful meal in just 25 minutes.

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Loaded Cucumber & Avocado Sandwich

loaded cucumber and avocado sandwich
Jacob Fox

This loaded cucumber-and-avocado sandwich is filled with creamy avocado and crispy cucumbers. Ricotta cheese mixed with extra-sharp Cheddar adds flavor while sliced red peppers offer a splash of color.

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Cucumber, Tomato & Arugula Salad with Hummus


Tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and feta top arugula in this quick Greek-inspired salad. Served with whole-wheat pita and prepared hummus, it makes a filling, yet healthy lunch.

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Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Photography / Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling / Ruth Blackburn

This vegan chickpea salad sandwich is lemony, bright and surprisingly delicious. It's got all the flavors of a classic tuna salad sandwich—dill, lemon and a bit of garlic—but with chickpeas instead to add a vegan source of protein and a healthy boost of fiber. Celery brings a nice crunch.

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Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Olives & Feta

Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Olives & Feta
Kelsey Hansen

This quick and easy chopped salad is inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean, including chickpeas, cucumber and feta. A garlicky oil and vinegar dressing brings everything together.

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Roasted Veggie & Tofu Brown Rice Bowl


A healthy and satisfying vegan lunch for one, featuring roasted butternut squash, broccoli, peppers and onions with simple brown rice, lime-marinated tofu and creamy cashew tahini sauce.

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