Lunch Project: 5 Filling Meals Under $5

Although I adore budget cookbooks like Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown (PDF available free here), this week has provided me with a new challenge: what happens when you don't have time to cook, but you still need to eat swiftly and cheaply? 

Thus, I have scavenged West Philly for five quick meals for around $5.

1. Fiesta Pizza: Mini Pizza, $3.50

As my great-great-great grandmother used to say, "If you cover it with enough oregano and red pepper flakes, even a mediocre pie can become a masterpiece."

2. Manakeesh Cafe & Bakery: Combo Za'atar and Cheese Manakeesh, $3.95

It's kind of like a pizza, but no pizza I've heard of has za'atar and cheese in such a bountiful configuration. It's the thyme of the season, after all.

3. Fuh-Wah Mini Market: Tofu Bahn Mi, $4.30

The tofu is hot and fried, the daikon is crunchy, the bread is thick and filling. I ate it in a few bites, then accidentally dropped a piece of tofu on the sidewalk and looked at it forlornly for a while.  

4. Lee's Deli: Black Bean Burger, $4.95

It's a hearty burger with all the toppings, though I craved fries and a soda to complete the experience. There's an amazing review on MenuPages that explains how Lee's dishes "prove the existence of God."

5. Mood Cafe: Crazy Chaat, $5.99

It's a dollar more than I promised, I know. But hear me out. When I asked the guy behind the counter what was in "Crazy Chaat," he responded with, "I don't know. It's crazy. It's good. You'll like it." I won't spoil the secret formula, but I certainly did, and it provided me with two meals.