Buying your lunch every day gets expensive, and if you're trying to eat healthy, the costs can skyrocket. But there are only so many times you can eat that soup/salad/sandwich combo before it gets boring. Plus, packing a week's worth of lunch takes so much work. But we have a solution.
We've outlined absolutely everything you need to know to make a week's worth of healthy, hearty lunches (with plenty of leftovers for snacks). And all it will cost you is $25 and one hour of your time. Check it out.
(We're assuming you have olive oil, vinegar and sugar in your kitchen -- or that you can steal them from a neighbor.)
- Lemons (3) $1.20
- Red pepper $0.80
- Lettuce (preferably romaine or red leaf) $0.82
- Bunch of carrots (about 4) $1.49
- Roma tomatoes (4) (or any ripe tomatoes) $1.41
- Fresh mandarin orange (or any small orange) $0.50
- Fresh garlic $0.42
- Parmesan cheese (2- to 3-inch chunk of fresh cheese or in a canister) $2.99
- Can of chickpeas $0.80
- Can of black beans $0.80
- Can of Rotel brand tomatoes and chilies (in the Mexican food section) $2.39
- Fettuccine pasta $1.49
- Small bottle sesame oil (in the Asian food section) $2.99
- Small bottle soy sauce $1.69
- Whole wheat tortillas $1.79
- Boneless chicken breast (about 1 lb.) $3.40
Sunday Prep School
Prep time: 1 hour
To get all five meals done in under an hour, a minimal amount of multitasking is required. It'll be easy if you take it in three phases:
- First, cook the chicken on the stovetop while you throw together the three sauces, checking the browning chicken periodically. (Don't move it around too much or it won't get that lovely crisp on the outside.)
- Next, throw the pasta in water while you chop up the veggies.
- Make the black beans on the stove while you wash the dishes.
Here are your basic recipes:
1. Rub the chicken breast in 1 to 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. Cook the chicken over medium heat in a non-stick pan on the stove top for 20 to 25 minutes or until no pink remains when cut with a knife in the center. Flip several times to cook evenly.
3. When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, cut 2/3 of it into strips, leaving 1/3 whole. Refrigerate.
1. Drain the chickpeas into a small cup or bowl. Reserve the liquid.
2. Peel one clove of garlic and throw it in the blender or food processor, blending briefly to dice. Add the drained chickpeas, the juice of one lemon, 2 Tbsp olive oil and about 1/2 tsp of salt.
3. Blend, adding the reserved liquid as needed to smooth out the dip. Check for taste, adding more salt, olive oil or lemon as needed.
4. Spoon the hummus into Tupperware and refrigerate, then rinse and dry the blender or processor.
Tasty modification: Add a small pinch of cayenne pepper, sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers to the hummus.
Asian Dressing/Noodle Sauce
1. Peel one clove of garlic and throw it in the blender or food processor, blending briefly to dice.
2. Add 4 tbsp. sesame oil, 2 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. vinegar and a pinch of sugar.
3. Blend for about 20 seconds, until the sauce becomes a rich brown.
4. Pour the sauce into Tupperware and stick in the fridge.
Tasty modification: Add red chili flakes or a dab of Asian chili sauce. Crush some peanuts into the sauce before serving.
Lemony Pasta Sauce
1. In a medium plastic bowl, juice 1-1/2 lemons, taking care that no seeds get into the bowl.
2. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. of parmesan (less is needed if you are using fresh cheese) and a pinch of salt.
3. Whisk all of the ingredients, checking for taste. Refrigerate.
1. Fill a medium pot 2/3 to the top with water and cover. Bring to a boil.
2. Add about 1/4- to 1/2-lb. of fettuccine cooking until al dente, according to package directions.
3. Drain in a colander and rinse well with cold water to avoid sticking.
4. Refrigerate in Tupperware.
1. Slice the red pepper into long strips.
2. Dice 1-1/2 tomatoes; cut the other 2-1/2 tomatoes into rounds, then cut the rounds in half.
3. Rinse and tear the lettuce into a medium bowl.
4. Peel the carrots, making long, julienned strips with one of the carrots, then cut the remaining carrots into rounds.
5. Combine the lettuce, halved tomato rounds and carrot rounds in the bowl.
6. Refrigerate all of the ingredients.
Spicy Black Beans
1. Drain and rinse a can of black beans.
2. Add one can of Rotel tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Cook over low heat for about five minutes. Refrigerate.
Tasty modification: Add garlic powder, chili flakes or a big spoonful of fruit salsa.
Click "NEXT" to learn how to assemble the above into five cheap and easy meals!