Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
25 Aug

Contest: The $5.99 Primal Value Meal

The Prize:

A yoga mat! Yoga is more than just exercise, it’s also a great way to relieve stress. And in the case of today’s prize, a great way to save the environment. Jade Yoga, today’s prize donor, is partnered with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every mat they sell. Jade Yoga recently provided mats to the White House for children’s yoga on Easter Monday, and today they’re providing a professional natural rubber yoga mat in any choice of color to the contest winner.

The Contest:

Fast food value meals are such a farce. They certainly aren’t talking about nutritional value. And as for economical value, you pay $5.99 for a burger, fries, and soda that you would have paid $6.09 for if you’d bought them individually. If saving a dime on 2500 calories of sugar and trans fat is your idea of value, then you’re probably not the type of person who wants to win a yoga mat.

So, what does a Primal value meal look like? You tell me. For today’s contest I want you to create a Primal “fast food” meal in which all the ingredients can be purchased for $5.99 or less. That is, the recipe needs to be inexpensive and easy to eat on-the-go. Leave your recipe as a comment on this post.


I’m looking for cheap recipes that satisfy this reader’s question. I offered up a few options. Now see what you can come up with!


This prize is only available to residents of the 48 contiguous states. [If you don’t live in the U.S. and you win I’ll ship you a bottle of my Master Formula instead, and the mat will go to an alternate winner.]

The Contest End Time:

Midnight, tonight (August 25th)!

How the Winner Will Be Determined:

Executive decision. I’ll pick a favorite. That’s the winner.

To track all the contests visit The Primal Blueprint Health Challenge Contest Page for daily updates.

Visit The Primal Blueprint Health Challenge for challenge details.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. $5.99 for one meal. I will do you one better. $5.99 for breakfast all week.
    A dozen eggs ($2.00)
    A bag of frozen broccoli or other veg ($1.00)
    A stick of butter or 1 cup of heavy cream (.75)
    Meat, your choice, chicken, ham, bacon ( A pound of bacon is $2.25)

    Whip up those eggs and stir in everything else (you gotta melt that butter first if you use it). Pour into a loaf pan and bake at 350 for about an hour (keep an eye on it, sometimes it takes longer). Let it cool, cut into individual loaf portions for the week and freeze each individual one. Before you leave for work in the morning microwave your loaf for 2 minutes at 80%. Wrap it up in a paper towel and eat it while you sit in traffic. Use the money you saved for a cup of coffee and a book on CD. Your morning commute has just become a relaxing meditative wonderland.

    PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess wrote on August 25th, 2009
    • Are you actually getting organic free-range eggs, meat and butter at those prices? Where I live (Portland, OR) you could only get factory farmed animal products so cheaply.

      crunchysue wrote on August 25th, 2009
      • I’m in Lancaster County PA and we have a farmers market where a dozen cage free eggs is $2 but we are a large farming county so it makes sense. The cream is a $1.5 but it’s for a quart, and yes organic grass-fed no hormone dairy. The meat is more that I’ll grant you. Chicken out here is the cheapest and it’s $3.5 for the good stuff.

        Danorsong wrote on November 15th, 2010
    • This sounds great! Going to make this Sunday for my breakfast’s next week! Thanks for the great idea.

      Jeff Witt wrote on July 15th, 2011
    • I tried this recipe and I was blown away!!! This loaf rocks! I made it and Mark’s Primal Meatloaf, and my family is set for breakfast and lunch all week>

      Julian wrote on March 12th, 2012
  2. An actual fast food value meal: Go to subway and make any of their subs a salad! They cost 5.50 where I am from and will fill you up if you chose all the veggies on the menu in addition to a meat. Perfect for someone who doesn’t have time to make their day’s meal

    Ryan wrote on August 25th, 2009
    • Thanks for the tip, hope the Dutch Subways do that too!

      Angelo wrote on April 1st, 2010
  3. My Fred Meyer store (maybe Safeway) sells whole rotisserie chickens for $5.98. Ready to eat.

    Not free range, but will make a couple meals for most people. Just find a plain one, I’m sure some of the flavors are just coated in HFCS.

    If you live in the country this time of year, enjoy natures happy meal!

    1.) Buy a box of .22lr ammo for $1.40 and go rabbit & grouse hunting.

    2.) Pick lots of berries along the way There’s a good chance you’ll find apple and hazelnut trees too.

    3.) This kills two birds with one stone, as it’s also primal play or moving real slow also.

    Grok wrote on August 25th, 2009
    • Or better yet just go literally “kill two birds with one stone” – stones are like natures ammunition, and completely free! 😉

      (har har, I couldn’t help it)

      Ryan Robitaille wrote on August 25th, 2009
      • Start practicing, I’ve tried! 😉 Done some clubbing too.

        Primal Grok was a hardcore dude! It takes a mean whack usually followed by a tackle to get the job done.

        Grok wrote on August 26th, 2009
  4. My recipe is only for those that like broccoli, which I adore.
    1. Frozen Bag of Broccoli (1.50) – Broccoli is a very well rounded food. It is very high in vitamins C, A and K, antioxidants and it is high in fiber! Eating fresh broccoli from the farmers market will be great but let’s be honest now, if you are replacing a fast food meal chances are you never made it to the farmers market. The benefit of the frozen broccoli is that it won’t go bad for a very long time so if your freezer is stocked with it you’ll always have a meal ready to go.

    2. 2 Eggs (less than 50 cents) – Eggs are great source of protein and they are so cheap! If you are worried about cholesterol remember that dietary cholesterol does not directly increase your blood cholesterol.

    3. Olive Oil (few cents?) – Buying nice olive oil can be pretty pricey but for this recipe you won’t be using too much of it so it is not a major cost contributor but a major health contributor.

    3. A pinch of Sea Salt for flavoring.

    1. Boil a pot of water. Add the eggs in. Add a little bit of olive oil and salt.
    2. When the water is boiling full steam add the broccoli and set a kitchen timer for 4.5 min.
    3. When the timer rings, drain the water and peel the egg.
    4. Drench the whole thing with more olive oil and add some salt to taste.
    5. Enjoy your cheap, lazy and healthy meal. :o)

    Byung wrote on August 25th, 2009
  5. (I am defining fast food as grab-and-go when you’re away from a kitchen food)

    Chickfila: $5.39 for a chargrilled chicken salad (there are a few variations)

    Smoothie King: $5.28 for a 32oz Gladiator Smoothie (45g protein, 1.5g carbs + whatever carbs are in the two fruits you choose – I suggest berries)

    Grocery Store: ~$4 for a pack of tuna (the rip open and eat kind) & a veggie or piece of fruit

    Jason’s Deli: $5.99 Chicken Ceaser Salad (and for another $1 you have a few more salad choices)

    Katie V wrote on August 25th, 2009
    • That chargrilled chicken salad from Chickfila – along with the rest of their food is filled with sodium and preservatives. I would seriously think about skipping fast food – it isn’t food. What they pack and fill that food with isn’t primal.

      PEKK wrote on October 6th, 2010
  6. Spicy Tuna Nori Hand Rolls

    1 Sheet of Nori (50 cents)
    Can of Tuna Fish ($3)
    1/4 Cucumber (50 cents)
    1/4 Avocado (50 cents)
    1 Tbsp Mayo
    splash of tabasco
    1/4 tsp salt,
    1/4 tsp pepper

    This will yield you two pieces of hand rolls.

    Cut 1 sheet of nori sushi seaweed into halves.

    Mix Tuna fish, mayo, tabasco, salt, pepper.

    cut up cucumber into strips

    cut up avacado into slices

    For the assembly:

    Lay the nori flat
    place tuna fish onto the first quarter of the Nori along with slices of avacado and cucumber. Then take the bottom corner and bring to middle top and start rolling into a cone.

    For visual instruction on how to roll the hand roll,.. please go here:

    Pictures are much easier to understand…


    Disclaimer: This is something I just thought of and never tried… so don’t know how good it’ll taste,…but in my mind it sounds pretty good.

    Christian Chun wrote on August 25th, 2009
  7. Buy a double-double hamburger from Inn-n-Out protein style (bunless and wrapped in lettuce) with raw onions and no sauce.

    Eat with some organic berries and roasted nuts on the side and a glass of water to quench your thirst.

    Alternatively, lately I’ve taken to having ham and cheese roll-ups wrapped in lettuce with a little mustard slathered on it.

    Aaron Blaisdell wrote on August 25th, 2009
  8. Turkey Roll-ups

    Portable, cheap, and easy to customize! Makes 4 Roll-ups


    3/4 pound cooked Turkey, shredded or sliced ($3)
    1 Avocado ($2)
    1/2 Lemon (.25)
    4 Leaves of Raw Green Cabbage (.49)

    1. Mash the avocado with the lemon juice.

    2. Divide the turkey into four portions and spread 1-2 inches from the leafy edge of each piece of cabbage

    3. Spoon the avocado spread on or near the turkey

    4. Wrap the leafy edge of cabbage around the turkey and avocado and roll up the leaf, firmly but not too tightly.

    5. To maintain the roll-up, fold over the 2 ends of the cabbage and wrap in aluminum foil.

    Madame P wrote on August 25th, 2009
  9. Here’s what I recently took with me for a breakfast & lunch at a conference. The jerky and nuts can both be dried in the oven.

    6 – 7 pieces of homemade jerky made from flank steak
    1/4 cup crispy nuts (made according to Nourishing Traditions)
    1 apple
    Cost: $3 for the amount of flank steak I actually ate; $1 for nuts; $1 for farmstand apple: $5 total

    3/4 cup curried chicken salad with grape halves & cilantro on apple slices
    I ate the salad on the apple slices (mostly because I forgot a fork!). Use left over roast chicken or chicken legs & make your own curried mayo. Legs are definitely cheaper. I estimate this lunch at about $4

    DebFM wrote on August 25th, 2009
  10. I like just about everything wrapped up in a huge leaf of romaine lettuce.

    I like to pre-cook a bunch of meatballs (ground chicken, beef, or whatever kind of meat you like). All you need is meat and whatever kind of seasoning you like. I also like to add some minced veggies like sweet bell peppers, cilantro, garlic, onion, etc. to the mix…even fruit on occasion (ground pork and minced granny smith apple is nice).

    Just throw a bunch of meatballs inside the lettuce and you’ve got a satisfying meal that doesn’t even get your hands messy. I like them cold or heated up; doesn’t matter. I find that I tend to eat about half a head of romaine in one sitting at such a meal.

    Elana wrote on August 25th, 2009
  11. Some Ive enjoyed in the past.

    An apple (the original fast food) with almond butter

    Celery with almond butter and raisins

    Hard boiled eggs and beef or venison jerky (Can’t get bacon without Nitrates where i live)

    Local Chinese restaurant has a sushi bar with $4.99 Sushi plate (I like the eel) with green tea $0.99 $5.98 whew.. I dont think Grok had to tip a waitress…if so it may have been with animal skins or arrow points :>)

    Venison or calf’s liver sauteed in olive oil and butter with onions.

    And the most Grok like…take a lunch time or saturday afternoon stroll through the woods foraging on wild raspberries, blueberries, mushrooms (KNOW your mushrooms), wild grapes, hickorynut, hazelnuts, watercress, dandelion greens what ever is in season. Catch some crayfish and boil or roast. (I draw the line on grubs but if you are adventurous….enjoy) Chew on a sassafrass stick, and drink of fresh spring water. Sprint home.

    joe s wrote on August 25th, 2009
  12. Can of sardines in tomato sauce (make sure it’s just tomato paste, water, and seasonings w/o soybean oil) – should run you about $3 give or take.

    snack size bag of carrots – about $1

    reasonable piece of fresh fruit – about $1

    All told you’re under $6 for this meal and full when you’re finished. Just don’t cut your hand on the sardine can.

    Geoff wrote on August 25th, 2009
  13. Here are various options:

    – can of sardines; fresh veggie sticks (zuke,cuke,celery,jicama, etc)

    – thin sliced roast beef (you can buy at grocery store deli counter or make your own ahead of time) rolled around avocado sections and optional cuke sticks

    – hardboiled eggs, fresh veggies and/or fruit in a baggie or tupperware

    – leftover cold chicken drumsticks

    – canned salmon mixed w/avocado

    Bon Appetit!

    BestSelf wrote on August 25th, 2009
  14. Healthy Pancakes

    equal parts of (ie. 1 cup/1 cup/1 cup – I use 1/2 cup of each)

    uncooked oatmeal (a few cents)
    eggs (2 eggs = 1/2 cup) $1.00 max
    non fat cottage cheese $1.00 max

    blend to a paste.

    fry like regular pancakes in a non-stick pan

    top with a dollop of allfruit spread or jam ($0.25)

    jazz it up by adding in 1/2 banana chunks (.25 max) & some raw walnut bits before frying (1.00 max)

    well under 5.99 and well under 500 calories (assuming you’re doing the 1/2 cup measurements), tasty and filling! :-)


    Girlwithnoname (Jackie) wrote on August 25th, 2009
  15. My $5.99 fairly fast food lunch:

    Red curry shrimp and veg:

    $1.50 – bag of mixed vegetables
    $.89 – coconut milk
    $.50 – 2 tbsp of a pouch of red curry
    $2.00 – handful of shrimp from a frozen pack

    Heat the coconut milk on the stove for a few minutes, then add in the red curry and stir. Toss in the vegetables and cook on high 4 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook 2 more. DONE! All in under 10 mins.

    Cara wrote on August 25th, 2009
  16. My favorite work snack to eat at my desk:

    1 C Fage 2% Greek Yogurt ($4 for 2 cups at Trader Joe’s)
    A piece of seasonal organic fruit (right now peaches are in season, 1 peach is about $1)
    a sprinkling of pecan pieces (organic pecans are expensive, about $1 an ounce)

    Adds up to about $4 per service

    Laurel wrote on August 25th, 2009
  17. My “no time to pack my lunch” lunch:

    3 hard boiled eggs ~ $1.80
    2 stalks celery with Almond butter ~ $0.50

    Not as good as some delicious rib-eye steak leftovers, but it’ll do in a pinch!

    hannahc wrote on August 25th, 2009
  18. Primal Lunch in a Box

    Mix in a 1-quart container:

    5 cups raw baby spinach / mixed greens ($1)
    1 cup chopped raw veggies of choice ($.50)
    1/2 avocado ($.50)
    2 hardboiled eggs ($.50)
    1 can wild salmon ($1.50)

    Add a little container of homemade dressing ($.50)

    Remember a fork.

    Voila! Quick, easy, filling and healthful lunch for $4.50. (Actually, this is my standard take-it-to-the-office breakfast.) :)

    BarbeyGirl wrote on August 25th, 2009
  19. Here’s my idea for a completely primal fast food lunch. And by “completely primal” I mean made of organic, free range, grass fed meat & veggies.

    [b]Kohlrabi Sandwich[/b]

    [i]1/3 lb. organic free range meat sliced thin
    2 kohlrabis[/i]

    Slice the meat very thin.
    Slice the kohlrabis into quarter-inch rounds.
    Make sandwiches.

    Free range organic meat @ $11/lb: $3.30
    Kohlrabi @ $1 each: $2.00
    [i]Total: [/i] $5.50

    crunchysue wrote on August 25th, 2009
  20. Make a stew of your favorite inexpensive, fatty white fish (sustainable/wild/low contaminants) with coconut milk, lime juice, coconut oil, tomato, cilantro, and cauliflower. The price varies depending on how expensive the fish you use is, but the fish is usually about $5-$10/pound. I made a version here: with more expensive halibut. The recipe used 3/4 lb of fish to feed two people. With the minimally-priced vegetables and buying coconut milk at an Asian market where it’s cheaper, you could easily do it for under six dollars.

    Debs wrote on August 25th, 2009
  21. OH! I gotta add to my pancake recipe: try blending in some natural peanut butter (not too much it gets stuck in the blades, like about a tablespoon) to make your pancakes taste just like peanut butter cookies!! LOL. mm mm!!!!

    (so what’s that? add another dollar max? still under $5.99!! haha)


    Girlwithnoname (Jackie) wrote on August 25th, 2009
  22. Not really a recipe, but a nice little meal:

    1 can of tuna (1.50$)
    1 bag of baby spinach(1.99$)
    1 bag of baby carrots (1.00$)
    1 half pint of milk (1.00$)
    1 bag of sunflower seeds (0.50$)

    Very similar to what I had today!

    Raphael S. wrote on August 25th, 2009
  23. My grab and go’s:

    -1 Avocado (1.00)
    -Raw almonds (can be conveniently storebought or from home) ($1.00)
    head over to grocery store and grab
    -chicken/egg salad ($3.99)
    or, if low-carbin it,
    -preroasted chicken (3.99)

    Doable in one trip to the grocery :)

    Iceskater wrote on August 25th, 2009
  24. Spinach “crepes”

    Mix to combine for a thin omelette/crepe:
    Two organic eggs – about $.45
    Pureed spinach (I keep some in the freezer in cubes) – $.30 or so?
    Dash of cream (optional. $.15?)
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Spices if desired (oregano and/or cumin would be good for a few extra cents.)

    Pour the egg mixture into a greased pan (can thin it out with a bit of water or cream if needed), in batches, to make a thin omelette/crepe. Can be rolled up and eaten just like this for maximum portability. Or, if you’re at home, before you roll it up you can add some sausage or spinach leaves or tomatoes inside and serve it on a plate as a filled “crepe” or burrito. It’s also great with salsa and sour cream, if you do dairy. And, sometimes I add parmesean to the crepe mix for some extra flavor.

    Makes several crepes (depends how thin and how big your pan is) for about $1. With additions, you can still keep it way, way under $5.99!!

    Wendy1 wrote on August 25th, 2009
  25. I’ve got two — one for a fast food chain (Chipotle) and one you can bring from home or buy in the grocery store. both are easy and quick and $5.99 or less.

    For the fast food one I must give credit to my sister’s boyfriend, as he is the one that introduced me to this cost saving, primal way of eating at Chipotle:
    Order a side of barbacoa and chicken (double meat), and a
    side of guacamole. Three sides in a bowl, nothing else — no rice, no
    salsa, no lettuce, etc. If it has any of those other things, they
    have to charge you for a full burrito bowl, extra meat, and guacamole,
    which is ~$11. The double meat and guacamole bowl is ~$6 plus tax.
    Not bad for 12 oz of food.

    For the second, meal on the go, buy a can of tuna and a ripe avocado. if cherry tomatoes are in season, buy some of those too. mix together in a tupperware container with sea salt and voila! omega 3’s, healthy fat and energy to keep you going throughout the day!

    Autumn wrote on August 25th, 2009
    • Good one on the chipotle! A budget saving way to eat while traveling.

      Dizzy wrote on July 13th, 2011
  26. Fruit and Yogurt
    Fresh fruit sliced or half a bag of frozen berries
    Serving of Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
    Handful of nuts
    Small handful of raisins
    And perhaps a sprinking of coconut.

    orbeachic wrote on August 25th, 2009
  27. Personally I like to drain a can of tuna (<$1), flake it, and mix in a tsp of mustard, (again <$1), I also add raisins for a little more texture and either eat it out of a bowl or put it in a lettuce leaf. I add almonds on the side to make sure I stay full for a while. All of this with a glass of water or tea is less than $5.99 and tastes great. Thanks for all the other ideas as well!

    Christopher Williams wrote on August 25th, 2009
  28. Steak, Eggs, Toast w/Fruit – Primal Style

    Boil 3 free range organic eggs – $1
    2oz Grassfed Beef Jerky – $2.50
    1-2 slices almond bread – $1.50
    Handful of grapes or other fruit- $.50

    Total: $5.50

    This is a wonderful meal on the go and transports well. Easy to eat on the run and can be made in advance as well as stored for days (or longer). You can even buy pre-boiled eggs. No utensils needed!

    Eggs assume cost of $4 per dozen, beef jerky is $10 for 8oz at US Wellness Meats, Almond Bread (you can make yourself – recipe below) and grapes or other fruit are readily available.

    Gluten Free Simple Bread
    2½ cups blanched almond flour
    ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    3 eggs
    1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)
    ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar


    Steven wrote on August 25th, 2009
  29. MC’s $5.99 Lunch-To Go
    I believe in preparing foods that I will use for a week’s lunch ahead of time. I love the idea of a Danish open style sandwich or a closed sandwich made with a vegetable sandwich crust. I make a large crust and store it in the fridge. It’s most convenient to cut the crust into sandwich-size pieces while still warm and then cool completely at room temp on a rack. I prepare sandwich toppings and keep them in closed containers in the fridge eg, washed and spun lettuce, left-over cooked proteins (meat, fish fowl, shrimp), home-made mayo and/or pesto, chopped onions, cucumber, and radishes, sliced hard-boiled eggs, shredded carrot, fresh herbs, … the choices are endless. I keep the tomatoes whole, slicing or chopping on the day, or just taking whole cherry or grape tomatoes. At this time of the year I have zucchini, Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers from my garden and I can visit local farmer’s markets for additional choices. With careful planning and shopping, my lunch is amazingly cheap and quick to put together.
    I get free-range eggs ($3.00/dozen; $1/weeks sandwich crusts) from my local rustic-bread baker. I haven’t found a suitable raw cheese, so I settled on a Wisconsin Asiago (it’s cheaper than Parmesan, less salty and gives a perfect consistency). My cheese costs about $5/lb if I buy it bulk. The left-over precooked proteins need to be eaten and their cost is miniscule. Altogether, the initial cost of ingredients for my open or double-crust sandwich is spread over a week and cost me less than $6/day, even if I have to purchase all the vegetables (preferably from a farmer’s market or CSA).
    For this recipe, I used Swiss Chard but I’ve used other veggies (see below)
    Veggie Sandwich Crust for Open or Closed Sandwiches
    About 14 large leaves of Swiss chard, remove from stems, wash well, and spin in salad spinner
    1 oz butter
    3 eggs beaten together with
    1 egg yolk
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon veggie oil
    2 cup [about 7 oz] Asiago cheese, shredded
    4 tablespoons [about 0.8 oz] unsweetened protein whey powder
    Seasoning (I grind equal amounts of black peppercorns, coriander and cumin seeds and use about 1 heaped teaspoon; the cheese adds salt so I adjust for salt on my sandwich toppings)
    1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
    1. Pre-heat oven to 410oF. Put 2 pizza stones or 2 caste iron pans. I use one of each for this recipe (or just the stone for ½ the recipe). A rectangular cookie-tray can be preheated for 5 – 10 minutes to give a squarer sandwich-like product, but it’s not quite as crisp.
    2. Sweat Swiss chard with 1 oz butter and 2 tablespoon of water on medium -low heat for 5-10 minutes. Should be quite soft. Mine was quite dry. Finely chop in food processer. My leaves are large and my final yield was about 7 oz cooked chard.
    3. Stir eggs mix, garlic, cheese, and chard, then protein whey powder with seasoning. The addition of baking powder fluffs the crust slightly.
    4. Spread the ‘batter’ in oiled pre-heated pan, or on oiled parchment paper and transfer to pizza stone. Bake until a great golden-brown color (about 15 minutes).
    5. Cool completely (or cut when still warm with kitchen shears or pizza cutter and cool). Keep in closed box in fridge, Use for sandwiches, single/open in Danish style or double closed style.
    6. Use tomatoes, crunchy romaine lettuce, grated or shredded carrot, finely sliced or julienned cucumber, cooked chicken, beef, salmon from a previous meal, tuna salad, chopped parsley, basil, or other fresh herbs, sugar-free salsa (or homemade salsa), pesto (I like homemade spinach or basil pesto), a sprinkling of lemon juice and olive oil or home-made mayo …. the choices are endless.

    mcoz-09 wrote on August 25th, 2009
  30. Variations on MC’s $5.99 Lunch-To-Go
    Alternative use for the Veggie Sandwich Crust
    7. Use the crust as a basis for a cold open pizza sandwich by topping while still warm with for example, shrimp (preferably raw, thawed, shelled and sliced), diced bacon, pre-cooked chicken or other meat, chopped mushrooms, tomatoes, drizzle of heavy cream, a sprinkling of fresh mozzarella or other cheese, chopped basil or other herbs (best added under other ingredients) etc.; heat at 410oF for 5 – 10 minutes, being careful not to burn uncovered edges. Again the choices are endless and it keeps well in a cool lunch box giving a truly delicious open sandwich (room temp is great or if you like it warm, use the lunch-room microwave for a very quick heat-boost).
    Some Veggie Crust Variations
    Vary the vegetable in the sandwich crust. For example, I used zucchini
    8. Shred 2 medium sized zucchini (~14 oz) with the food processor attachment (can use a box grater). Remove excess water from zucchini by salting and draining in a colander for about 30 min. Since this makes the zucchini too salty, I actually slosh it around in more water. OK this extra step makes for a better tasting product but is a backward step. (the alternative is to go light with the salt). Squeeze each handful of veggie as much as possible, and put into a clean kitchen towel. Wring the towel well to get dry it further. Substitute the zucchini for the Swiss chard in the above recipe to make an even crisper veggie sandwich crust.
    9. I’m thinking about trying other veggies like wilted spinach, shredded broccoli or cauliflower heated for about 4 minutes in microwave (take lid off immediately), raw, shredded carrot (makes a sweeter bread), or a mix of any of these veggies. Adjust the amount to produce a spreadable, not too wet ‘batter’.

    mcoz-09 wrote on August 25th, 2009
  31. My favorite easy meal is cottage cheese (from Trader Joe’s – no rBGH) with some great vine ripe tomatoes and basil. It’s awesome with some salt and pepper, super easy to throw together, and makes a great breakfast or lunch.

    Good luck to finding your favorite easy and cheap meal!

    Tiffany wrote on August 25th, 2009
  32. So I’m probably late for the contest (I just got up), but I still want to share a few of my “readymade” lunches, none of which have to be expensive.

    My favorite is called Scotch Eggs, which is basically a hard-boiled egg inside a meat ball. You just boil a bunch of eggs, peel them and cover them in sausage meat (don’t forget those spices and herbs!). Then just fry them, and when they are done, let them cool – voilà, two or three days worth of lunches. I like that they are good when eaten cold. You could always wrap them in lettuce (or chinese cabbage, or savoy cabbage) leaves if they are too greasy to handle, that way you get some greens.

    Something else I like is basically anything grilled on a stick – Chicken Satays, Lamb Keftas, Mixed Shish Kebabs (in between pieces of meat,go wild on peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, whatever is in season where you live), liver on a stick… you get the idea. These, too, can be prepared ahead of time, and they keep in the fridge for a few days. They are very good cold. Don’t forget that you can grill fruit, too! Chicken satays with a bit of peach or pineapple thrown in, that’s like lunch and dessert in one. You don’t get messy fingers when you have a wooden or metal stick to hold, and you can drop it at a moment’s notice.

    Anything good costs either time, work or money. If you want fast and cheap lunch, I thinks it’s best to invest a little work (i.e. preparing it yourself) once a week and then enjoying the fruits of that work all week long.

    And just recently, I came across a recipe (will link if I remember the address…) for riceless maki rolls. It’s easy enough to make: You make a tamagoyaki (thin omelette), put that on top of the nori, and then fill with avocado, any veggies, fish, shrimps, whatever! If your budget is really tight, just use canned tuna.
    Again, a dish that is good when eaten cold, but don’t make this one ahead for the whole week 😉

    Thanks, everybody, for some yummy ideas. It’s always good to have a bigger repertoire.

    Christine wrote on August 26th, 2009
  33. Found it! Michelle posted pictures of her riceless sushi here. You can also eat these things uncut, like a ehou maki, and then it’s like a sandwich.

    Christine wrote on August 26th, 2009
  34. Thanks for sharing such a nice post.
    Freeze Dried and Frozen Fruit

    Freeze Dried and Frozen Fruit wrote on August 26th, 2009
  35. I feed myself for $5.71 a DAY!

    3 hard boiled eggs $0.24
    10 oz of meatloaf $1.48
    8 oz of Ribeye $3.99

    I purchase a dozen eggs for $0.99 and hard boil them.

    Meat loaf is 2lbs of ground beef at $1.99 a pound from Trader Joe’s. I combine this with 2 eggs, 5T of almond meal, salt, pepper and garlic powder and bake at 350 for 1.5 hours.

    My dinner is 8oz of Ribeye, also from Trader Joe’s which costs $7.99 a pound. I could go HOG WILD CRAZY and eat the entire ribeye if I’m feeling really hungry, and I’d still be feeding myself for less than $10 a day.

    Jennie Yundt wrote on August 27th, 2009
    • That meat isn’t anything special though, TJ’s ground grass fed beef is $6.50 a lb (still an awesome deal). They don’t have any other beef that’s grassfed (I have to check on the roast organic beef- I can’t eat it due to the marinade ingredients). Lamb there is grassfed though and a decent value.

      Even their free range eggs are apparently not ethical, they are debeaked. You can find a doz real pasture eggs for $5-8 around my town.

      Dizzy wrote on July 13th, 2011
  36. Very helpful site. Great post, finally a decent website with good information in it.

    Treatment for Hemorrhoid wrote on November 27th, 2010
  37. A cheap meal I’ve been loading up on lately:

    1/4 lb grassfed ground beef ($1.50 from TJ)
    plateful of arugula (figure 1/4 bag- arugula is $2 a bag so 50 cents)
    tbsp of ghee, butter, or animal fat to fry the burger in (10 cents?)
    spices, olive oil, vinegar

    Fry up your burger in the fats, mix in some spices, and pour it over your arugula for a warm tasty salad. Easy to double if you’re hungry and you still probably aren’t at $5

    Dizzy wrote on July 13th, 2011
    • Another awesome breakfast one:

      3 chicken sausage links (12 for $3 so 75 cents a serving)
      Almond pancakes, based off of Elana’s pantry website (I calculate this at around 1.40 to 1.50 a serving. I am easy on the sweetener, using either a SMALL amt of raw honey or xylitol, and adding extra water or liquid fat)

      I eat this for breakfast often, it is so good. Probably around 2.50 including a nice cup of tea or joe, maybe with some coconut oil thrown in.

      Again easy to double if you are still hungry!

      Dizzy wrote on July 13th, 2011

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