It is a universal truth that food tastes best when it’s free. “Nothing is as good as mum’s home cooking” isn’t true because of the comfort factor or because “love” is the secret ingredient, it’s because you’re not paying any money for it!!!!
While there IS such thing as a free lunch (sitting through a dull presentation may be considered by some as “payment”, but as far as I’m concerned, the sandwiches that work puts out for lunchtime meetings are free) but they are few and far between. Most of the time we have to settle for the next best thing: DIRT CHEAP LUNCH.
Working in the city, especially towards the north end, its easy to spend $15 just for lunch, and about $20 per day if you include coffee, drinks etc. Cheap lunches are like endangered species. They’re rare, hidden and need to be hunted down by skillfull warriors armed with the helmet of hunger and the sword of stinginess. Many have tried and failed, succumbing to the convenient temptation of paying $10 for one choice and rice at Hokka Hokka or $8.95 for mixed greens and canned tuna at Sumo Salad. I, however, am determined. I am well equipped to take on this challenge because I know that my desire for food and my aversion to spend money are the two strongest forces within me. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
Here marks the start of a new series – I’ll try to do a new one every week. Dirt Cheap Lunch Challenge isn’t an every day challenge – sometimes you need to splurge at Sopra, or get that $9 laksa that is worth every cent of those 9 dollars. But when you’re halfway to pay day and you only have coins in your wallet… Dirt Cheap becomes even more than a challenge… it’s the only option.
I’ll set a few ground rules:
1. “Dirt Cheap” means under $5. Exceptions will be made only where the meal represents RIDICULOUSLY good value.
2. The meal has to be somewhat substantial, not necessarily filling, but at least satisfying. One sushi roll does not count.
3. The meal has to be somewhat healthy. I use the word “healthy” VERY loosely, but this rule is just to cut out 5 x $1 Maccas cheeseburgers or $5 worth of hot chips. We’re an obese nation, junk food is the cheapest food, so to prevent this turning into a “Super Size Me” challenge, I’m disallowing it.
I’ll start with my current favourite dirt cheap lunch:
Vietnamese vermicelli salad : rice noodles, lettuce, carrot, shredded cabbage, a generous portion of juicy, marinated chicken pieces topped with fried onions and shallots – in a LARGE takeaway container. Sauce also included. The price? FOUR DORRAS!!! From (where else but) Hunter Connection – which will feature heavily in this series as it pretty much holds a monopoly on dirt cheap lunches in the CBD. Luckily, a certain standard of food hygiene is not one of my ground rules.