Social media shared fun and budget-friendly food hacks inspire a DIY attitude, meaning less of your hard-earned cash going to eating out. (Image source: Luisa Brimble via Unsplash)

By Lucy Addabbo

During my time at University, I have kept track of how much money I have spent at my local uni café. Over the years I’ve watched this total jump up from $100, to $500, to what it is now: which is $815.90. This is the result of many lunches I forgot to bring and many oat milk iced lattes I needed to get through my day.

With that money, I could have bought over 50 physical copies of Fearless (Taylors Version), paid off nearly two months of rent or even purchased plane tickets to New Zealand!

But having lunches ready in the morning can be tough, especially if you woke up late and are rushing out the door to make your 10am tutorial on time. Even grab-and-go lunches, such as your classic vegemite sandwich, can look unappetising when you watch all your mates eating what seems like a gourmet meal.

So here is a list of budget-friendly and easy to prepare lunch ideas that are uni friendly for the next time you’re rushing out the door.

Bento Boxes

If you haven’t seen the TikTok user Jessica Woo (@sulheejessica) making bento box lunches for her kids, you’ve been missing out. Her bento boxes are incredible, mixing different food groups together to create a delicious lunch, which are accompanied by sweet written notes to her kids. These bento boxes span from breakfast inspired, to club sandwich inspired and even Saint Patrick day inspired ones!

Taking inspiration from Woo’s bento boxes, she makes it seem simple to make your own. You do not necessarily have to go out and buy things for these bento boxes, instead you can use whatever is left over in your fridge and cupboard for these lunches. This makes bento boxes extremely budget-friendly.

Bento boxes allow you to take multiple items, divided by little compartments. The one downside of bento boxes is that you have to commit to purchasing a bento box before having them for lunch.

Bento boxes range from $15-$30. However, if you use them often, the versatility of a bento box makes it worth the price.

Salads

Now I get it, you don’t make friends with salads. But like bento boxes, salads are quite easy to switch up. Even better, salads are easy to meal prep and allow you to grab and go in the morning.

There are many tasty salad options, such as a simple green salad or a delicious pumpkin salad! Or you could go down the potato, pasta or rice salad route. No matter what your salad of choice is, many are extremely budget-friendly. Many supermarkets also have pre-packed salads ready for you to grab.

One of my favourite tricks is mason jar salads, where you put all of the salad ingredients in a jar – allowing you to meal prep for the week! While the mason jars are highly reminiscent of 2016 Tumblr, it is a highly useful way to prep lunches for a week of studying.

Wraps

Wraps were a staple in my lunchbox in high school, but after leaving I seemingly forgot wraps existed. However, much like a salad, wraps are extremely versatile. They are relatively easy to make in the morning, rolling up a few ingredients which only takes minutes.

A trick that has changed the wrap game forever is the TikTok trend where you cut a tortilla in quarters, fill each section, and then put it in a sandwich press. I find that it is easiest to make the wrap at home, and then use a sandwich press in the uni student kitchen. If you cannot find a sandwich press these wraps still taste amazing without being toasted.

Quiche

Quiches are another high school classic lunch that gets forgotten. A quiche is a staple for quick, budget-friendly lunches. Quiches are a bit more prep, but are relatively easy to make and easy to customise! One of the bonuses is that you can prep these on a Sunday night, and have them for the next few lunches. But be mindful quiches only last around 3-4 days in the fridge!

For extra cute serving sizes (and less time cutting up your quiche) why not try spreading the mixture over a muffin tray for ease. As seen in the TikTok below, using a muffin tray makes the perfect servings, and they look super cute. You can even try separating your mixture into different bowls before adding ingredients, so you can add different toppings to make your lunch more interesting. Quiche muffins are a super simple lunch to pack in your uni bag!

I’ll still be supporting my uni café every once in a while, because sometimes you can’t pass up an oat milk iced latte and a baguette to get you through your day. But with such simple food hacks just a hashtag away, making quick and budget-friendly lunches have never been easier!

Do you have a food hack you think our team should try? Let us known on Instagram @ontherecordunisa