If you've gone to a movie (in an actual movie theater) recently, then you know easy it is to spend $20. One ticket, a water and a small popcorn, gone! Heck, most pizza places charge $24 for a large pie these days. Twenty bucks doesn't get you very far anymore. Or does it?
One way to you can help stay on track with your budget is to meal-plan. By planning out meals for the week, you'll be less likely to resort to expensive takeout or last-minute trips to the grocery store where you inevitably buy something you already have at home in the pantry. Here we've come up with an affordable, healthy and yummy lunch menu for the week on a budget of just $20. With some planning ahead and a little bit of prep work on Sunday afternoon, you'll be pleasantly surprised just how far $20 can get you. And by batch-cooking and using the same ingredient in multiple ways, you'll not only stay on budget but you'll also save time during the busy workweek.
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a surprisingly affordable protein. We also love that this recipe comes together with only 5 minutes of hands-on time. For easy cleanup, line your baking sheet with foil or parchment. As the chicken bakes, move on to Step 2.
This super-simple method for cooking couscous takes less than 10 minutes. While the couscous stands, move on to Step 3. Once the couscous has finished cooking off the heat, make sure to fluff it with a fork before measuring it out for the lunch recipes.
Use our foolproof method to get perfect boiled eggs.
This bright green vinaigrette is a shortcut to big flavor; it's used on two of the lunches. You will not need all of this dressing, nor all of the Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette (below), so you'll have some extra dressings on hand for salads at dinner too.
This all-purpose salad dressing adds flavor to more than just salads. It also makes an irresistible dipping sauce for crunchy vegetables or crispy chicken strips. You can store both salad dressings sealed in jars in the fridge. If they solidify when they get cold, simply warm them to room temperature in a warm-water bath before using.
3 cups chopped kale + 2 tablespoons Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette + 1 (2.5-oz.) pouch tuna + 1/2 cup drained canned chickpeas + 1 carrot, shredded.
Cost per recipe: $1.50
3 hard-boiled eggs (only 2 yolks) + 1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 1 tablespoon mayonnaise + 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard + salt and pepper + 2 minced stalks celery + 2 tablespoons minced red onion, wrapped in 2-3 iceberg lettuce leaves, topped with 1 tablespoon chopped basil and served with 2 carrots, cut into sticks.
Cost per recipe: $1.89
3 cups chopped iceberg lettuce + 1 Oven-Roasted Chicken Thigh, diced + 1 stalk celery, diced + 1 carrot, diced + 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and diced + 1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese + 2 tablespoons Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette.
Cost per recipe: $2.01
Cost per recipe: $1.79
2/3 cup Easy Whole-Wheat Couscous + 2 tablespoons Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette, divided + 1 Oven-Roasted Chicken Thigh + 2 stalks celery, chopped + 1 carrot, cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler + 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese + hot sauce to taste.
Cost per recipe: $2.67
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