Three Dollar Lunch

Two Dollar BillOf several things that I have noticed of late is the seeming price creep and amount of expense that I have had recently on my lunch dining experience. Combine that with a similar creep in my weight again and I decided I have to get motivated and do something about it. A quick observation that came about with some conversation from a friend is how I really do not mind that $2.00 – $4.00 lunch that you can get around at various places, especially if you watch just a little bit and are willing to be flexible on given days.

A few examples of what I mean include places like Taco Bell – which happens to be one of my favorite places to do this. I can go there with a couple of bucks and leave, just as the commercials would lead you to believe, satisfied. Since I started thinking about this blog, they have mixed up the menu just a little bit, but there are still plenty of choices in the .99, .89, and even the .79 cent value priced menu. My favorite was the .89 beef and been burrito, but I think it is now .99. However, they new menu has a soft grilled chicken taco (probably a LOT more healthy) and a grilled chicken burrito with guacamole for the same .89. Give me one each of those and I really good for lunch. If I am super hungry pick again and I am still under $3.00 total or if I am the mood and choose to go with soda instead of my usual preferred beverage of water I am still there.

All of the fast food places have the $1.00 hamburger and other assortment. Two of those (at least one of which gets shared with the Bitzer dog) and again I am set. Word of warning though, the double cheese burger at McDonald’s is not longer a .99, but rather the McDouble is. The difference is the second slice of cheese. Take that warning a bit further though, the healthy choice is probably the Wendy’s Jr. Bacon, with its vegetable side dressing and still reasonable size – though the thin bacon does make that questionable. And keep in mind two days a week Rallies has .69 hamburgers.

Another good option is Subway, though you are pushing to keep it at $3.00 or under, very obtainable goal to stay under $4. If you stay away from the $1.50-1.89 sodas and focus on the sub of the day you can probably hit right at $3.00 most of the time. The sub of the day varies on a weekly schedule and some of the are $2.89 for a six-inch sub. Again, keep the dressing to the light side, or better yet go with just vinegar and pile of veggies on top of a some meat.

My all time favorite though is, I admit almost with shame, is the two for $2.00 at Speedway. The two for can include a variety of things, like grilled chicken, chicken poppers (think jalapenos and chicken and cheese, all together), but my favorite is the smoked sausage, onions and chili. Again, about 1/4 of the purchase, Bitzer the dog gets. And here I sometimes do indulge in a soda, but just because I like the soda options they have and still stay low price and zero calorie. And the great thing about this one is the rewards program. I think it works out every sixth soda is free (or coffee) and every sixth $2.00 food purchase gets you a 1000 point coupon voucher. 10,000 points is equal to $10 gift card. It is almost like getting paid to eat if you purchase fuel and other basic road needs on a regular basis at various Speedways along the way.

So some of you are probably looking at that list and thinking, “Okay, I can the cost savings. Heck compared to my $8.95 lunch plus tip that is savings of $25-30 a week. But how in the world can this healthy or at all green?”

My answer, as you knew I had one is quantity. If I go out and have that $8.00 lunch I tend to eat a much bigger lunch then I would otherwise. And definitely I tend toward the more unhealthy choices. For instance, the regular size bacon cheeseburger with and extra-large fries is in that price range at a more upscale sit down chain lunch place. But I am adding up at least twice and in some cases as many as four times the amount of calories. the same applies for cholesterol and all the other bad stuff out there. Expand that thought even more when you consider that I can not do buffets in that price range in general.

The green part is a bit trickier, but think about it. Most of these things are wrapped in paper as opposed to the next scale up where we are getting it wrapped in plastic or styrofoam, paper much more recyclable. Even though that likely does not occur, it is certainly biodegradable whereas the other things are not. Add to that, my typical lack of purchasing of a drink, so no cup and if I do go to Speedway I most often use a refillable cup.

And none of this considers bringing lunch along from home. There are plenty of things you can get for that price range that are heat and eat – though that does tend to be a non-green solution. Careful looking tough and you can find those in just cardboard for the microwave. Even better (and much thanks to my roommate for putting back in touch with this) is the peanut butter and jelly (though I prefer jam) sandwich. This one would be really green if I would bring it with me, but I tend to make the three-mile trip home to fix it and then drive back into the office. Being out of the office for that time is great but I could just bring the fixin’s to the office and have on hand all the time and then we would be talking a couple of quarters for lunch daily…