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Are you tired of lunch being an overpriced, nutritional train wreck? Do you groan and drag your feet every time you think about packing a lunch? Here’s some motivation: It’s simply better and cheaper for you. “When you make your own lunch, you’re in total control,” explains Keri Gans, R.D., author of “The Small Change Diet.” You can use fresh ingredients, watch your sodium intake and control portion size—three things that aren’t so easy to do when grabbing lunch on the fly.

Also, it’s easier to eat a balanced meal at lunch—unlike dinner, which we often pull together last minute or eat out, making it full of “unknown variables” when it comes to nutrition and portion size, explains Heather Bauer, R.D., founder of Bestowed, a monthly subscription service that delivers hand-picked healthy products. Bauer advises, “Keep it light (small portions) and tight (a calorie count under 280) for breakfast and lunch, and you’ll have more flexibility with dinner.”

Try these 12 healthy meals, which will make you excited to dig into that brown bag come lunchtime.

MORE: Ladies Who Lunch (Light) Weigh Less

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