Steadfast FinancesHealthy Lunch Recipes for Less than $5 per Serving

Healthy Lunch Recipes for Less than $5 per Serving

Filed in Frugal Living , Good Eats 1 comments

Instead of dropping $5 or more for a questionable beef patty with a side of french fried heart attack, how about rethinking where you spend your consumer dollars on something a little more nutritious and cost effective.

What I mean is, if you’re going to shell out $5 or more for a single serving meal (think a $5 value meal or something you order by the numbers in a drive through), perhaps it’s in your best interests to get the most bang for your buck as you can. I’m not suggesting you become a health food Nazi and count every calorie, but you have to admit, the fast food choices these days aren’t exactly spectacular and many childhood favorite fast food joints lose their appeal once you get a little older.

Plus, we know that eating that sort of junk food is bad for us, but yet many of us continue to do it anyway. So true to my frugal living and good eats monthly theme, here are a few video recipes that I tested out this month that make an excellent substitutions to your standard lunch menu.

Sloppy Joes

Can their a better choice for a quick and healthy lunch than Sloppy Joes? Probably so, but I love these things so I’m probably a little biased.

However, if you’re looking for something other than your standard ham n’ cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwich, this not-from-the-can Sloppy Joes recipe is extremely easy to make. Depending on the type of meat and fat content you use, it’s a fairly healthy dish compared to burgers and fries. Plus, on a cost per serving basis, you can make around 6 sandwiches for less than $10. That’s $1.67 per sandwich.

Just make one or two after dinner, throw them in a plastic container and grab it out of the frig the next morning before work. Simple, simple and simple.

Tomato Cucumber and Basil Salad

If you’re the non-carnivore, munching on salad type (which I do around 5 days a week now), a fresh tomato and cucumber salad really hits the spot. It might take a little getting used to and I think salads lose their health appeal if you pour on a cup of ranch dressing, but a nice Italian, balsamic or Greek vinaigrette dressing works well this this.

Cost wise, you can make 2 or 3 servings for $5 or $6, although, tomatoes are going to be the big ticket item in 2010 thanks to inclement weather. So if $5 tomatoes have already hit your area, it might be time to learn how to grow your own tomatoes in an urban garden just in case.

Classic BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato)

While not exactly as microwave friendly as Sloppy Joes, and no where near as healthy as a salad, this BLT with toasted bread cooked in bacon fat is so delicious that you should try it at least once in your life.

I could try to describe how good it is, especially after you add a teaspoon of real mayo and some fresh sliced Roma tomatoes, but I’d have to use smell-a-vision and some foul language.

Hey, you can’t live healthy all the time. Just remember a little decadence go a long way, especially with bacon fat!

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

One of my favorite sports bars makes a terrific buffalo chicken sandwich, but after noticing they got a “B” in their latest food/health inspection, I decided it might be time to learn how to make it myself.

It’s probably not as microwave friendly as other things you can take to work, but if you use low fat chicken breast, it’s definitely better than any burger you can get in a fast food joint. Less the 1/4 cup stick of butter in the buffalo sauce of course.

Chicken Parmesan Bake

I’m a cheese junkie. Almost any cheese will do, but the Parmesan addiction is near the top of the list, so I love any dish that allows me to indulge my addiction.

This Chicken Parmesan Bake, while different than your regular Chicken Parm recipe, is one of those dishes where you can make a batch (if you hate to cook or simply don’t have the time on weekdays) and take to work for lunch as single servings. I did this in my early 20s nearly every day of the week, and it saved me boatloads of money.

As you will find, using the croutons to this dish is a very clever addition, but if you want to save a few bucks, you can make your own croutons at home. Once you do, you’ll never revert back to those store bought brands in a sealable bag ever again.

But Eating Fast Food is So Convenient

Perhaps I view the lame argument that it’s too hard to bring your own lunches or you don’t have time to do it yourself, but if you’re going to eat three meals a day, why not make them the best they can be. Why not eat higher quality food that you’re proud to say you eat instead of saying you wasted your time, your money, and maybe your compromised your long term health by eating empty calories and french fried crapola.

While these recipes may not be an ultimate bargain compared to a 99 cent value meal, you have to admit, they’re probably better for you in the long run. (Not sure the BLT qualifies for that last statement, though).

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Posted by CJ   @   31 March 2010 1 comments
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Apr 6, 2010
6:14 pm
#1 James :

wow sweet ideas. plus the videos to go with, thanks.

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