Going out for some Mexican food with a bunch of office colleagues might be a tempting idea. However, when it empties your wallet by month’s end, you might prefer having lunch at home. Dining out leads to skyrocketing bills. According to research, more than 50% of Canadians prefer having lunch at home. Nevertheless, cooking food at home may also be expensive without proper meal planning.
Meal planning can save money by helping you focus on buying only those ingredients you intend to use and avoid cooking extra food.
There are days when you don’t have the time or the energy to cook due to a busy day. It leads to ordering food during lunch hours or grabbing fast food when you have a hectic schedule which can cost you twice as much and steer you towards poor food choices that impact your health.
The key to reducing the risk of poor food choices and keeping money in your pocket is by taking out time to cook your meal the night before you go to work. Of course, you’ll need to purchase some groceries beforehand and create a weekly menu for yourself. In this article, we’ll share some lunch ideas that aren’t time-consuming and can do wonders for your budget.
If you live in Canada and wish to save big time on groceries, spend wisely by purchasing imperfect produce in Canada via online platforms. These groceries are edible, available at reasonable prices, and you can use them without any concerns. Most online grocery stores deliver to multiple areas within Canada, so you don’t have to waste valuable time visiting conventional stores.
So, here’s the best part. If you want to cook inexpensive meals for work or to serve at home, here are some recipes that you can make at a low cost and enjoy.
1. Curry Chicken Salad
What makes this salad popular is the curry mixed with mayonnaise and sweet golden raisins. You can use either cooked or roasted chicken for the salad. One of the best ways to use leftover chicken is turning it into a curry chicken salad.
For a healthier version of chicken curry salad, use plain Greek yogurt as a creamy base instead of classic mayonnaise-based chicken salad dressing.
You can turn a basic hummus dish into a satisfying and healthy one by adding fresh veggies as a dipping with pita. You can easily make this at home out of canned chickpeas.
The secret to preventing hummus from getting dull or flat is by using fresh lime juice. To get a velvety smooth texture and nutty flavor, you can use tahini, a thick paste made out of ground sesame seeds.
If you run out of canned chickpeas or have a tight budget, you can also use spinach, fresh herbs, and black beans and make your version of hummus to go with egg salad or as a spread for sandwiches.
3. Asian Peanut Noodles
Peanut butter is a versatile ingredient rich in protein. When it comes to eating peanut butter, you either spoon it directly into your mouth or use it as a spread for sandwiches. However, you can use it for Asian Peanut noodles which are quick and easy to prepare. You can also add vegetables of your choice to bring color and flavor to noodles.
Once you have blended peanut butter, soy sauce, fish sauce, and lime juice, you can pour the sauce over cooked noodles and veggies.
Udon noodles are part of the recipe, but if you are on a tight budget or can not find these noodles, you can substitute these with Spaghetti or whole wheat linguine.
4. Burrito Bowls
To prevent wastage of food or money, it’s essential you already have a plan for your leftovers. Burrito bowls are a great way to save money by throwing in pieces of leftover meat and frozen veggies.
For a classic burrito bowl, you can add a seasoned chicken breast with sautéed soft red onion, black beans, and corns. You can also go with ingredients that work for you or use whatever is available in your kitchen. If you are in the mood for a spicy burrito bowl, you can add salsa on top for a slightly sweet and savory taste.
Leftover chicken seasoned with chili powder and ground cumin can add a delicious flavor to your burrito bowl.
5. Kimchi fried rice
Rice is pretty cheap if you are looking to buy the ones that are medium grain or long-grained instead of the expensive versions like Jasmine. You can serve rice as a perfect side dish or as a base for a complete meal.
If you use plain rice as a side dish or for the main meal, you can turn the leftovers into fried rice. Kimchi fried rice recipe is an easy dish that combines flavorsome kimchi with fresh or day-old rice to give you a simple and savory lunch in under 15 minutes.
It is a cheap and simple meal that can also be made vegetarian or vegan. Kimchi fried rice can be an excellent base for adding proteins and eggs. You can also store the leftover kimchi fried rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later use.
6. Roasted Chicken
Buying a whole bird is economical, with options to use the meat for lunch or chicken stock to keep your meals sorted for days and even save your money in the long run. Roasted chicken is one of the easiest dishes you can prepare if you don’t have much time or energy.
There are multiple ways to roast chicken, but you can get flavors from the meat, bones, and skin with a basic recipe. When roasting a chicken, you need a cast-iron skillet or a baking dish.
You can serve roasted chicken with bread salad, pasta, and rice that will keep you full during lunchtime. If you want your roasted chicken to be juicier, you can reduce the temperature to 375°F until the juices run clear and add more deliciousness to the chicken.
Preparing inexpensive meals can be difficult when you are short on time. However, planning everything can help in many ways, from controlling grocery expenses to preparing quick meals. Budget-friendly recipes will help you make healthy and economical food choices. One of the benefits of preparing food at a low cost is getting your hands on lots of vegetables and proteins, which are good for your health.
Shopping for groceries online can avoid frequent trips to the grocery store and provide you with ingredients that will help you prepare delicious meals. You can also cook healthy meals with a variety of ingredients available online. With simple, inexpensive recipes to cook at home, you won’t have to go out to eat often during your lunch break.