The average American spends $8 a day on their lunch. That’s $40 for one work week (or your internet bill, a tank of gas, two dinners out) or $160 a month (just counting M-F). A lot of people assume that if they want to be healthy and feel satisfied after every meal, they can’t put a price limit on their food. WRONG.
Food can be your biggest expense…or your biggest savings.
In our house, we both have full time jobs. And we both feel the temptation every day to just go “grab some lunch.” We see our friends and co-workers eating at a different restaurant every day, and it definitely inspires a little jealousy. But here’s the thing – we don’t want $160 a month (EACH) just on lunch. There’s a lot of other really cool stuff we could do with that money.
So I bet myself that I could make us lunches for under $2. The lunches couldn’t be terribly unhealthy (i.e. poptarts) and they had to be satisfying. But keep in mind that when you’re getting a burrito or a sandwich, there’s not that much healthy food in there…yes, even if you order a few pieces of lettuce. On top of that, you don’t have any say about what goes into your food. Often, there’s a lot of hidden ingredients (I.e. butter, oil, animal fat) that you’re completely unaware of. The nice thing about cooking in your kitchen = your rules.
So this week we made Cheese Enchiladas with Mexican Rice. I tend to make a lot of meat-free items because let’s be honest – we’re sitting at our computers all day, not running marathons. We don’t need huge portions of protein, just enough food to keep us until dinner.
Price Breakdown for Cheese Enchiladas with Mexican Rice:
Red Enchilada Sauce (from Target) $0.89 X 2 jars = $1.78
Pack of 8 tortillas (from your local grocery store) $2.99
Shredded Cheese (from your local grocery store) $2.50
Spanish Rice (Rice-a-Roni style boxes on the Ethnic food aisle) $1.39 x 2 boxes = $2.88
1 large can of Diced Tomatoes (to mix into the rice) $1.19
This made us 7 big servings of Enchiladas and Rice. Total cost = $11.34.
COST PER LUNCH $1.62
*****If you want to make this even cheaper, cook your own Spanish rice.*******
******If you’re going to add Chicken or Beef to the enchiladas, add about $0.75/day******
The best thing about these enchiladas is they’re freaking delicious! Way better than plenty of Mexican restaurants I’ve eaten at, and a tiny fraction of the calories. There’s plenty of ways to spice these up too — try a green pepper and olive filling, or go wild and stuff some grilled tofu in there. You can sprinkle sliced olives on top, or put a dollop of sour cream I put a little bit of Sazon on the spanish rice and it added a nice kick.
Are there ways to make this cheaper? Any killer add-on ingredient?