Broke before payday? My family’s easy 7-day lunch prep

Broke before payday? My family’s easy 7-day lunch prep

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Oh, no. it’s petsa-de-peligro again. This can be a huge headache for many. You feel your pockets and find coins enough for a jeepney ride to work. Wait, what about lunch? The solution, an easy 7-day lunch prep. 

Avoid unnecessary expenses and make a budget plan for a month. Stick with your financial allocations.

No one wants to run out of budget.

Why don’t you try some of these?

  1. Assuming hot water is available in your office pantry, stop taking quick trips to Starbucks. Bring instant coffee sachets instead. That extra Php 150 will come a long way.
  2. Bring sandwiches. There are easy and affordable spreads you can prepare ahead of time. Like a yummy tuna sandwich or a classic egg sandwich.
  3. Do not leave the house with an empty stomach.
  4. Use carpool or ride-sharing, it is much cheaper if you don’t want to ride a public vehicle.
  5. Surround yourself with people who monitor their expenses religiously.
  6. Think positively. If you come to think of it, payday is just a few days away. As the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait.”

Which is cheaper, to eat out or do lunch prep?

If you choose to eat out, you…

  • Have menu options and great food ambiance
  • No plates and utensils to wash after
  • Stop thinking about what to cook
  • Avoid prepping ingredients, which for some dishes can be time-consuming
  • Get VIP treatment with the help of waiters and waitresses

Every time you eat out, make sure it’s the best eating option.

But if you are a mother who acts as the financial manager of the house, you will prefer to cook instead. Above all, food takes a big portion of our monthly budget. 

Here are some of the benefits of lunch prep.

If you are eating solo, maybe to eat out is cheaper. If you are feeding a family of four, this can burn a hole in your pocket. Remember, it’s not payday yet. You can save more if you do the lunch prep yourself.

Eating out is actually not that bad. It allows us to spend some quality time with family, friends, and even yourself. If it’s getting in the way of your budgeting, maybe it’s time to reconsider.


Does bringing lunch to work or school actually save money?

What is it about bringing a packed lunch to work or school that we don’t like? How much space does it occupy in our bag? Afraid of food spillage? The cleaning after? The bullying from rich kids or colleagues? 

If you wise up, you’ll realize that bringing packed lunch to work or school can help you save money. Try to invest in microwavable lunch boxes. This way, you can reheat your food in the pantry. 

These days, one take out lunch meal costs an average of Php 99 to Php 150. Did you know that you buy 1 kilo of chicken at the grocery store for only Php 180? Plus ingredients, you will spend up to Php 250.

Therefore, Php 250 per week on food is a reasonable amount. It will help you get you through the week. That’s Php 42 worth of homemade and nutritious lunch for you per day. 

If you think that Php 250 per day is not enough to feed a family of four, think again. To break the monotony, scour the internet for different recipe ideas, or create homemade versions of restaurant favorites. Below is my family’s easy 7-day lunch prep. 

Monday: Sweet and Sour Lapu-Lapu

You need

  • 3 pieces medium-sized Lapu-Lapu, cleaned
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ⅓  cup water
  • 2 ½  tablespoon brown sugar, you can add more depending on your taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, cut into strips
  • 1 piece white onion, cut into rings
  • 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour mix with water, for thickening
  • Oil for frying


  1. Mix water with white vinegar. Set aside.
  2. Saute’ ginger, garlic, onions, and carrots.
  3. Pour the water and white vinegar mixture. Do not stir.
  4. Wait for the mixture to boil.
  5. Add brown sugar and salt to taste.
  6. Add the flour mixture to thicken the sauce. Set aside.
  7. Sprinkle salt to the fish.
  8. Deep fry the Lapu-Lapu.
  9. Assemble the fish and pour sweet and sour sauce on top.

Note: You can substitute tilapia if Lapu-Lapu is not available. If in a hurry you can use store-bought sweet and sour chili sauce. Just bring to a boil and add a small amount of water, chopped carrots, and sliced onion.

7-day lunch prep Monday Sweet and sour fish self-love after ruins

Tuesday: Sinampalukang Manok

You need

  • 500 grams chicken, clean and cut into servings
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 cup fresh young tamarind leaves
  • String beans (optional)
  • Radish (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Water
  • Salt


  1. Saute’ ginger, garlic, onion, and tomato.
  2. Next, add the chicken and stir.
  3. Add the fish sauce and continue stirring.
  4. Pour in water enough to cover the chicken. Wait for the water to boil.
  5. Strip the young tamarind leaves from the stem.
  6. Wash the leaves and add salt.
  7. Squeeze the leaves with salt to get the flavor.
  8. Put the squeezed leaves in the boiling chicken. Let it boil.
  9. Add the vegetables.
  10. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Note: You can add store-bought tamarind mix if you want it sourer or boil unripe tamarind and squeeze to get the flavor.

7-day lunch prep Tuesday sinampaluang manok self-love after ruins

Wednesday:  Beef Mechado

You need:

  • 500 grams beef, cut into cubes
  • 1 200 gram-pack tomato sauce 
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 piece onion, sliced
  • 2 pieces potatoes, cut in half and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 beef cubes
  • Oil
  • Water


  1. In a huge pot, add water, and boil beef. Set aside the broth.
  2. In a pan, fry potatoes and set aside.
  3. Saute’ garlic and onion. Add the beef.
  4. Put tomato sauce and stir.
  5. Add beef cubes and stir. Pour in the broth.
  6. Add ground pepper and the potatoes.
  7. Mash other potatoes to thicken the sauce.
  8. Turn of the heat.
7-day lunch prep Wednesday beef mechado self-love after ruins

Thursday:  Grilled Pork Chop and Sauteed Bitter Gourd (Ampalaya)

For the grilled Pork Chop

You need

  • 500 grams of pork chop
  • 10 pieces calamansi
  • Soy sauce enough to cover the meat
  • 3 tablespoon Brown sugar, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • Ground black pepper


  1. Clean pork chops and arrange them in a container.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Mix the pork chops and marinate.
  4. Wait for an hour or overnight for the marinade to be absorbed by the meat.
  5. Grill.
7-day lunch prep Thursday grilled pork chop self-love after ruins

For Sauteed Ampalaya

You need

  • 1 big size ampalaya, sliced and soak in water with salt to lessen the bitterness
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pack seasoning
  • 1 piece egg, beaten
  • 100 grams of pork, chopped


  1. First, boil the chopped pork.
  2. Add in cooking oil..
  3. Saute’ garlic, onion, and tomato.
  4. Add ampalaya and avoid over stirring.
  5. Sprinkle the seasoning.
  6. In a bowl, beat the egg and pour in the mixture.
  7. Serve with grilled pork chop 
Thursday ginisang ampalaya self-love after ruins

Friday: Chicken with Liver Tinola

You need

  • 500 grams chicken, cut into serving slices
  • 150 grams chicken liver
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 piece sayote or papaya, sliced
  • 1 chicken cube
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Sili or malunggay leaves


  1. Saute’ ginger, garlic, and onion.
  2. Add chicken and liver.
  3. Put fish sauce and stir. 
  4. Add water enough to cover the meat.
  5. Let it boil and stir as needed.
  6. Add papaya or sayote.
  7. Top with chili leaves or malunggay leaves.
Friday tinola self-love after ruins

Saturday:  Pork Hamonado

You need

  • 1 ½ kilo pork Kasim, hamonado cut
  • Margarine
  • 1 can pineapple chunks
  • 1 can Pineapple juice
  • Flour
  • Soy sauce 
  • pork cube
  • Grated cheese


  1. Flatten the meat and sprinkle with salt, roll, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Flatten the meat again and brush with margarine.
  3. Distribute pineapple chunks on top of the meat.
  4. Top with grated cheese.
  5. Sprinkle some flour.
  6. Roll the meat and tie with strings to seal.
  7. Repeat procedure on other meat.
  8. Place all the rolled meat in a casserole.
  9. Pour pineapple juice on the meat. Be sure to cover all the meat to have it cooked evenly.
  10. Add pork cubes and soy sauce to add color.
  11. Boil on high heat for 5 minutes, and flip the rolled meat to avoid the meat from sticking at the bottom of the casserole.
  12. Continue cooking and wait until the sauce thickens, which means the meat is cooked.
Saturday hamonado self-love after ruins

Sunday: Kansi

You need

  • 1-kilo beef shank
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Lemongrass, tied
  • Unripe jackfruit, sliced
  • Atchuete seeds, annatto seed soaked in lye water
  • 1 pack store-bought sinigang (tamarind) mix
  • Green chili (siling pangsigang)


  1. Saute’ ginger, garlic, onion.
  2. Add the beef shank. Stir and add water, enough to cover the meat. Cooking may take 3 hours depending on the meat. You can use a pressure cooker for faster cooking.
  3. Add lemongrass and unripe jackfruit.
  4. Stir and add siling pangsigang, and atsuete seeds.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste
  6. Pour in store-bought sinigang (tamarind) mix.
  7. Then, wait for a few minutes until the meat is cooked.
Sunday Kansi Self-love after ruins


Money problems (always) have solutions. Lunch prep is one of them. If we are mindful of our expenses and earnings, it’s easy to manage our finances without sacrificing healthy eating and a comfortable lifestyle.

How’s your experience doing lunch prep for you or your family? Does it help you save? Do you know how to cook some of my recipes? Other budgeting saving recipes you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.

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Filipina Zacarias

A wife and a full-time mom of three. Fina is a content writer and a budding graphic artist. Her passion besides writing is cooking and baking. Her children are now busy in their career in their own chosen fields and it’s her time now to continue cultivating more of her talent and improve her craft.