5 Low calorie pack lunches under £5

Written by greg presto
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5 Low calorie pack lunches under £5
(Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Magic microwave pad thai

Six-for-a-pound noodle packages may be the lifeblood of twenty-something’s, as well as the nightmare of cardiologists--but it's the seasoning that's packed with salt, not the noodles.

Try mixing unseasoned noodles with your favorite jarred Asian sauces, canned vegetables and precooked meats. You’ll soon find that there are unlimited ways to have something other than a sandwich at your desk.

This version of pad thai packs all of the flavour for less than 500 calories, and leaves you with leftover spinach to munch on as a salad the next day.

NUTRITIONAL POWER PUNCH: The yolk of your egg is packed with choline, a nutrient that can help keep your liver from depositing fat.

You'll need:

  • One (1) 300g pack Amoy Udon thick noodles (or similar)
  • One (1) 400g (14-ounce) can bean sprouts (or fresh bean sprouts if you can get them)
  • One (1) 100g (4-ounce) tin mushrooms
  • One (1) jar Pad Thai Sauce (whichever brand you like best, supermarket brands are cheaper)
  • One (1) hard-boiled egg
  • One (1) package baby spinach leaves
  • Can opener
  • Microwave-safe container
  • Knife or fork

To make it:

  1. Prepare the noodles according to package directions, but don't mix in the spice packet.
  1. Open and drain the mushrooms. Open the bean sprouts.
  1. Slice the egg into pieces.
  1. Drain the broth from the noodles. Add the mushrooms, a small handful of spinach leaves and two teaspoons of the sauce, and mix thoroughly.
  1. Add egg and as many bean sprouts as you like.

Total calories (as prepared): 439

Total cost (as prepared): £5.00

The no-chop, good fat Greek salad

Bringing a satisfying salad to work doesn't need to be a chopping-and-mixing morning chore… and it doesn't have to be soggy by noon. Bring a few small containers and you can make this surprisingly easy Greek salad that's as packed with flavour as the ones you buy for £8 or more at a fancy salad bar.

NUTRITIONAL POWER PUNCH: You already know all those olives are good for you. But the Romaine's not just empty filler: Two cups of these greens provides more than 100 percent of your daily recommended value of Vitamin A.

You'll need:

  • One (1) bag pre-chopped Romaine lettuce
  • One (1) 130 gram (8-ounce) tub feta cheese crumbles
  • Two (2) roasted red peppers from supermarket olive bar
  • Six (6) pitted olives from supermarket olive bar (or pre-packaged)
  • A little extra juice from the olive bar (for dressing the salad)
  • One (1) packet cherry tomatoes
  • Salad bowl

To make it:

  1. Mix half of the cheese crumbles with all of the other ingredients.

Total calories (as prepared): 346

Total cost (as prepared): £5.00

Two-minute rice and beans

This combo's a staple for a reason--rice and beans complement one another to give your body a complete protein without a shred of meat. You can have it at work--not reheated, but fresh from the kitchen microwave--in just two minutes. Try it over a half-bag of pre-cut lettuce for an easy salad, or eat it alone for a satisfying, spicy meal.

NUTRITIONAL POWER PUNCH: You already know they're packed with fibre and protein, but black beans also have another b: B vitamins. One serving contains 64 percent of your recommended daily intake of folate, and 28 percent of your B1.

You'll need:

  • One (1) packet Uncle Ben’s Easy Cook Long Grain rice (or similar)
  • One (1) 425g (15.5-ounce) tin of black beans
  • One (1) 400g (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chillies
  • Can opener
  • Microwave-safe container

To make it:

  1. Prepare the rice according to package directions.
  1. While the rice cooks, open the black beans and tomatoes. Pour half of each can (with the liquids) into the container; discard the rest of both. Add a squirt of water to top it off.
  1. When the rice is finished, microwave the bean/tomato mixture for one minute.
  1. Mix the rice with the beans and tomatoes. If there's salsa or sour cream in your office fridge, mix in a dollop of each.

Total calories (as prepared): 448

Total cost (as prepared): £4.00

Tuna melt without the mixing

We lied. There is one sandwich, but worry not. It's not a boring ham-and-cheese roll. Get your gooey cheesy fix without all the mixing with this microwaveable tuna melt.

NUTRITIONAL POWER PUNCH: Tuna's packed with protein and omega-3s--this you know. But it's also got loads of potassium, an essential mineral for heart and muscle health--and it can help lower blood pressure, too.

You'll need:

  • One (1) English muffin
  • One (1) John West Tuna Light Lunch French Style (or similar pre-mixed tuna salad pouch)
  • One (1) mozzarella string cheese
  • Microwave-safe plate

To make it:

  1. Open the tuna package, discarding the crackers (or saving them to crumble in your homemade soup). Put the tuna on the plate.
  1. Tear the cheese into pieces, and top it as strings on the tuna.
  1. Toast the English muffin.
  1. Microwave the tuna for just long enough to melt the cheese.
  1. Spread the tuna and cheese on the muffin.

Total calories (as prepared): 370

Total cost (as prepared): £4.00

The world's fastest homemade soup

Canned soup has a lot of flaws. It’s loaded with sodium, is low in nutritional value (especially protein), and most importantly, the broth usually resembles the contents of a runny nose.

Better can be done, and you don't even need a stove. Just buy a rotisserie chicken the night before, and tear off a bunch of the meat. Bring it to work with the other ingredients listed, and you can have chicken taco soup in a matter of minutes.

You'll need:

  • 120g (4 ounce) rotisserie chicken meat, without skin (about the size of your palm)
  • One (1) 400g (14.5-ounce) can corn kernels in water
  • One (1) 425g (15.5-ounce) can chicken broth (low sodium)
  • One (1) 400g (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chilies
  • Three or four tortilla chips, crumbled
  • Can opener
  • Microwave-safe container


  • One (1) small container pre-diced onions (find them near the fresh salsas in the supermarket)

To make it:

  1. Drain the corn and tomatoes.
  1. In the container, mix the broth and chicken. Add in half of the corn, half the tomatoes, the onions, and tortilla chips. Discard the rest of the tomatoes and corn (or save them for beans and rice).
  1. Microwave the mixture on high for 2-3 minutes.

Total calories (as prepared): 376

Total cost (as prepared): £5.00

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