Figuring out dinner is hard enough. Lunch? It's hopeless. You end up eating out, spending a lot of money and eating crap. I've eaten Raisin Bran for dinner every night this week so I buy a fried burrito for lunch at the convenience store. Cooking for yourself is healthier and having leftovers for lunch more than compensates the stress of cooking. Here are tips to help you plan your lunches:

  • Make a big pot of soup. It's easy to make, you can have tons of variety and it's inexpensive. Pour it into individual containers and freeze it. Chicken noodle, lentils and pasta fagioli are favorites. A piece of fruit and granola bar for dessert makes a complete meal.
  • Do all your cooking on the weekends and make huge portions and eat it the other five days of the week.
  • Pork butt is cheap and you can shred it and have pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, enchiladas and pasta -- eat all week on the same piece of meat.
  • Salads in a jar: Put dressing in the bottom, then chicken, cucumbers and tomatoes in to marinate. Add spring greens to the top and crutons to the very top. Keep it upright and don't shake until you're ready to eat. It works out to about $3.
  • Do some homework and learn how to cook with and flavor beans. There are many types of beans and you can make so many different meals with them. Ridiculously cheap and extremely healthy.
  • Brown rice, black beans, corn and hot sauce. Mix it together. Add Spanish Rice mix or salsa. Add chicken or hamburger if you have it. Maybe a cheap salad on the side. This is college food, but works for anyone.
  • Learn how to make tempura chicken. You can buy the tempura in a box mix. Then buy a bag of white rice, frozen vegetables and a bottle of sauce from the store. Have orange chicken, General Tsao's, sesame chicken, whatever.
  • Buy a rotisserie chicken. For $5 it's usually the same price as frozen chicken then you don't need to cook.
  • Get a crock pot cook book. It's full of recipes where you go to the store, rinse products, put them in crock pot and walk away -- then have 4 days of leftovers.
  • Buy frozen pizzas for dirt cheap then load them with fresh veggies before baking.