Cheap Meals: What are your Favorite Cheap Lunch Recipes?

You just had a filling, healthy, and cheap breakfast. Relax, you’re good until at least 1 pm or so. No snacks needed.

But then 12:30 rolls around, and you start thinking, “Hey, it’s time to flex my cooking muscle. What healthy, nutritious, affordable lunch am I going to cook up today that will get me through to the dinner hour (and a cheap dinner) without snacking on a bunch of bee-killing, diabetes-inducing Monsanto Franken-corn or gut busting starch products?”

Well, you’ve found just the right post to emphatically produce an answer to that very question.

I’m going to share a few of my favorite cheap lunch recipes, and then YOU, the wonderful readers of this blog, are going to do the same.

So lets get started, shall we?

G.E.’s Asparagus Quinotto

Can you call something without rice “risotto”? I don’t think so. So I invented my own version, based off of the risotto concept. Instead of low protein white rice, I’ve simply replaced it with protein-packed, low-glycemic, nutritious quinoa. Let’s call it G.E.’s Asparagus Quinotto.

Asparagus is only good in season, so if you can’t find good asparagus, then you could replace with snap peas.

A big key in this dish is the balsamic vinegar. It would be decent, but not great without. So keep adding until it tastes just right. You’ll know when you get there.

The recipe below serves two (large portion servings).

cheap lunch recipeIngredients:

  • 1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, washed, ends removed, and trimmed into 1 and 1/2 inch-long pieces ($1.50)
  • 1/2 cup Costco dry organic quinoa ($0.63)
  • 1/2 cup Costco walnuts ($0.18)
  • 1/2 cup baby peas, fresh or frozen ($0.40)
  • 1 veggie bouillon cube ($0.30)
  • 1 cup chopped mushroom ($0.66)
  • 1 organic carrot, chopped ($0.13)
  • 1 Tbsp Kirkland (Costco) extra virgin olive oil ($0.09)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice ($0.04)
  • white wine vinegar to taste ($0.08)
  • balsamic vinegar to taste ($0.09)
  • 1/2 TSP black pepper ($0.05)

Total cost of dish: $4.16

Total cost per serving: $2.08

Preparation Instructions (total cook/prep time 15 min.):

  1. Start the quinoa. Add 1 cup water to 1/2 cup quinoa, and add in bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover and simmer. Set timer for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, start chopping and sauteing the veggies/mushrooms with olive oil in a separate saucepan.
  3. When quinoa looks mostly cooked, dump in all veggies, and some butter or olive oil, if you’d like. After timer from #1 hits 15 minutes, everything should be fully cooked.
  4. Add walnuts, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Stir. Serve hot.
  5. Eat!

G.E.’s Taco Salad

The following cheap lunch recipe is one of my favorites because is quite fulfilling, as far as salads go, without any meat/fish (it’s vegan). There are a lot of different ways you can modify this recipe, based on your personal tastes. I’ve recently dropped the chili powder, to give it a cleaner finish. You’ll notice that most of the ingredients here are organic. And this recipe makes 2 large portions (I don’t mess around with my portion sizes!). A super healthy, mostly organic, fulfilling salad for under $2. Enjoy!

cheap lunchIngredients:

  • 1 can black beans (S&W from Costco) ($0.69)
  • 2 cups organic romaine lettuce, chopped ($0.40)
  • 1/2 large organic green or red pepper, chopped ($0.50)
  • 1 organic roma tomato, chopped ($0.54)
  • 1/4 can Trader Joe’s olives ($0.37)
  • 1/3 cup Trader Joe’s frozen organic corn ($0.17)
  • 1/2 organic cucumber, chopped: ($0.75)
  • 2 Tbsp organic cilanto, chopped ($0.10)
  • 2 organic carrots, chopped: ($0.26)
  • 1 Tbsp Kirkland (Costco) extra virgin olive oil ($0.09)
  • 4 TSP Cholula sauce ($0.05)
  • 1 TSP lime juice ($0.02)
  • salt, chili powder to taste ($0.05)

Total cost: $3.99

Total cost per serving: $1.99

Preparation Instructions (total prep/cook time: 10 minutes):

  1. Wash and chop all vegetables.
  2. De-thaw corn by placing in microwave for 30 sec.
  3. Drain, rinse beans.
  4. Throw all ingredients in a big bowl. Mix and shake.
  5. Eat!

Your Favorite Cheap Lunch Recipes?

The goal of the entire Summer of Saving series is to have everyone contribute to create a resource for others.

So please share your favorite cheap lunch recipes, ingredient lists, cost of ingredients, and how to make the meal so that we can all benefit and share in your awesomeness!

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