Skip to main content

Saving money isn’t easy when you have to buy your lunch everyday. Brown-bagging is the cheapest way to eat, but that’s not always practical.

Subway’s “$5 Footlong” campaign, which offers any of the chain’s regular footlong sandwiches for $5, has been a popular promotion for the restaurant. This promotion offers a substantial portion at an inexpensive price.

But is a Subway footlong sandwich the best you can do? Here are some other quality lunches you can get for less than $5:

Rolled pitas from Alladin’s Eatery

Alladin’s Eatery offers healthy Lebanese/American food at very affordable prices. This restaurant has locations in seven states, including Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania and Michigan. While many of the items on the menu are less than $5, their signature offering is the rolled pita. The Chicken shawarma rolled pita is $4.65 and features charbroiled chicken, tomatoes and onions topped with tahini sauce.

Chinese food lunch specials

You might not think of going for Chinese food at lunch, but many local Chinese food restaurants offer great deals before 3 or 4 p.m. For example, Emperor Wok in Chicago offers lunch specials starting at $4.75 that include an entrée, an egg roll and chicken fried rice.

Rubio’s gourmet tacos

Rubio’s Mexican restaurant offers four grilled gourmet tacos including: steak, shrimp, chicken and portobello mushroom and poblano pepper. These tacos range in price from $3.29 to $3.99. While Rubio’s locations are concentrated in California, there are also restaurants in Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.

Sushi lunch specials

Many Japanese restaurants also offer special deals for lunch, and some of the best deals are in sushi rolls. A single sushi roll, which typically provides eight pieces, makes a healthy, light lunch. At Sushiology in Orlando, Fla., a California roll (artificial crab, cucumber and avocado) is just $3. A Kamikaze roll (tuna, spicy mayonnaise, roe and tempura bits) is $4.50.

Chicken caesar salad from Costco

Among its many deals, Costco offers substantial single-serving chicken caeser salads for just $3.99. Other items on the menu include large pizza slices, hot dogs and polish sausages, each for under $2. Sam’s Club and Ikea also offer affordable carry out food options.

Here are some other tips to help you save on lunch:

  • To save the most, always opt for carry out rather than eating at a sit-down restaurant. With carryout, you avoid having to pay a tip.
  • Avoid delivery charges by going to pick up your order. A midday walk will help you recharge and provide a little exercise.
  • Don’t waste money on drinks, ask for a cup and drink water. It’s healthier and free.
  • Go halves on a sandwich or entrée with a co-worker. You’ll eat less and save more.
  • Whenever possible bring lunch from home even if it’s just leftovers in a plastic container.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at