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FEATURES Aug 26 2013 11:29AM

3 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Under $2.50

by Jessica Jones of FoodHeavenMadeEasy.com

Quick: It’s 12 o’clock. Your morning has been hectic with back-to-back meetings and you can’t wait to eat a savory lunch. What do you do: A. Spend up to $15 of your hard earned money at a restaurant nearby or B. Eat the delicious, low cost, quick, healthy meal you brought from home?

If your answer is A, this article is for you. Below are 3 quick n’ easy lunch recipes that will cost you about $12 per week, and under $2.50 per day. Each recipe was constructed with your job in mind, and comes complete with instructions on how to easily incorporate it into your busy workday.

Ranchero backed sweet potato
Total cost for entire workweek: $12.07
Shopping Cart:
  • 5-medium sized sweet potatoes ($5.00)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro ($.99 cents)
  • 1 small tomato ($.50 cents)
  • 4 cups of black beans ($2.00)
  • 1 cup of corn ($.99 cents)
  • 3 cloves of garlic ($.30 cents)
  • ¼ cup of chopped onion ($.30 cents)
  • 1 package of shredded cheddar cheese ($.1.99)
  • Optional: 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt – if you desire a sour creamy taste
Pantry items:
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  1. Chop garlic, cilantro, tomato, and onion. Add to an airtight storage container
  2. Add black beans and corn to mixture to container and then mix in spices
  3. Bring storage container and baked potatoes to work on Monday. Store bean mixture in the work fridge
  4. When you are ready to eat lunch each day, bake the potato in the microwave (it will be easier to bake if you pierce the potato with a fork in a few places)
  5. Once the potato is cooked, cut it in half and lightly mash each side with a fork
  6. Add about 1 cup of heated black bean mixture to your potato
  7. Top with 1-ounceof cheese and 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt (if desired)
  8. Repeat Tuesday-Friday for the perfect healthy lunch
Tortilla Bean Pie
Total cost for entire workweek: $8.99
Shopping Cart:
  • 1 five-pack of 8-inch, whole-wheat tortillas ($1.99)
  • 1 pack of shredded cheddar cheese (or any cheese of your choosing) ($1.99)
  • 1 can of black beans ($.99 cents)
  • 1 can of pinto beans ($.99 cents)
  • 1 can of refried black beans ($.99 cents)
  • 1 cup of corn ($.99 cents)
  • ½ chopped onion ($.40 cents)
  • 4 cloves of chopped garlic ($.40 cents)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper ($.25 cents)
  • Optional: Salsa and Greek yogurt
Pantry items:
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees; you will also need a round 9-inch oven safe cooking pan
  2. Mix all beans and corn together in a bowl
  3. Chop jalapeño (remove seeds), add to bean mixture
  4. Sautee onion and garlic with vegetable oil, add to bean mixture, then mix in cumin and chili powder
  5. Spray bottom layer of pan with cooking spray (or layer with ½ teaspoon of vegetable oil)
  6. Add corn tortilla to pan, then layer with beans and 1-ounceof cheese
  7. Repeat this step 4 times. Top the pie with a tortilla. If desired, add a small layer of beans and cheese to the top of the pie
  8. Cook for 25 minutes or until cheese melts
  9. Divide pie into 5 servings and take one serving with you to work each day
  10. Optional: Serve with a side salad

Vegetarian Pita Pizza
Total cost for entire workweek: $10.5
Shopping Cart:
  • 5-pack of whole wheat pita bread or flatbread ($1.99 for 6 pack)
  • 1 package of Mozzarella cheese ($2.79 for 8 ounces, shredded)
  •  8-ounce can of tomato paste ($.99 cents)
  • 1 bell pepper ($.75 cents)
  • 1 onion ($.50 cents)
  • 1 bunch of spinach ($1.99/bunch)
  • 1 head of garlic ($.50 cents)
  • Optional: 1 bunch of basil ($.99 cents)
  • Optional: Any other desired vegetables
  1. Pre-chop all vegetables store in airtight storage container to use throughout the week.
  2. Add tomato paste to a separate airtight storage container
  3. When you are preparing the pizza (it can be in the morning before work) spread 1-2 ounces of tomato paste on pita bread
  4. Add a layer of onions and garlic over the tomato paste
  5. Add spinach, chopped bell pepper and any other desired veggies (zucchini works great as well) to pizza
  6. Place pizza on a large piece of foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until crust is crunchy
  7. Let pizza cool and wrap foil around entire pita so you can easily transport to work.
  8. If you are making this pizza to bring to work for lunch, hold off on adding the cheese, as it will stick to the foil. (You can also place pizza in a circular airtight storage container)
  9. When you are ready to eat lunch, add 1-ounceof cheese to the entire pizza when you reheat it in the microwave

Jessica Jones is a Registered Dietitian and the co-host of Food Heaven Made Easy with Wendy and Jess, a healthy cooking/nutrition web-series:  www.foodheavenmadeeasy.com.


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