Lunches under $3 a day
Pad your pantry and fill your freezer
One trick to making lunches for under $3 a day is to first plan ahead. Buy items you can stock in your pantry when they're on sale. Think canned tuna, beans, peanut butter, rice, pastas and dried beans. Don't forget about the freezer. Bags of frozen vegetables and ground beef can come in handy in creating a nutritious, inexpensive lunch.
Cut coupons and go generic
It may be a bit tedious to cut coupons, but it can really pay off. Watch the papers or scan your grocery store's website for coupons for the week (or month) ahead. Once you get to the grocery, don't forget to shop wisely by buying generic items. You'll save money without giving up quality.
Calculate prices per serving
While prices may vary based on where you live and individual grocery stores, the following information can give you an idea of how far your food dollars go. You can easily do the math on your own to price servings: divide the price of the item by the number of servings and you have your cost per serving.
If a 1-pound bag of brown rice sells for about $1.75 and makes about 10 side servings, that's about 18 cents a serving.
If a 16-ounce box (or bag) of dried pasta sells for about $1.69 and makes about 7 servings, that's about 24 cents a serving.
If a 12- to 24-ounce bag of frozen veggies sells for $1.75 and makes about 6 cups, depending on the vegetable and the size of the bag, that's about 29 cents per serving.
If a 6-ounce can of tuna sells for $1.39 and makes has about 2 servings, that's about 70 cents per serving.
Tasty ideas for lunches on a budget
It's easy to make a tasty lunch that doesn't cost a lot. Once you get the hang of things, the sky is the limit! Keep the following basics in mind as you build your lunch menus:
- Cold pasta salad with veggies
- Pasta with grilled shrimp and tomato sauce
- Tuna salad sandwiches
- Tuna noodle casserole
- Deviled eggs
- Egg drop soup
- Twice baked potatoes topped with veggies and cheese
- Potato and bean quesadillas
Lean ground beef
- Spaghetti with meatballs
- Grilled sliders
- Black bean chili
- Bean and cheese enchiladas
Frozen and fresh veggies
- Spinach and cheese quesadillas
- Cheesy cauliflower gratin
- Grilled chicken and with pasta
- Baked chicken Parmesan
Lunches for under $3 a day are possible! With a little planning your lunches can be nutritious, delicious and inexpensive.