JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- I don't know if you've ever done it: Sit down and count the cost of going out to lunch five days a week, but it adds up.
I found several places. I have eaten at some in the past and viewers suggested others where you can grab lunch for $7 dollars or less.
Here are my top 10 places to eat on the cheap and do it the healthy way.
Russ Does Sandwich shop. This mom-and-pop business is near EverBank Field on Talleyrand Avenue. It has been there for decades and keeps the lunch crowd happy for cheap. The Russ Doe special, a drink and its banana pudding will cost you $6.15. They only accept cash.
La Nopalera Mexican restaurant on Hendricks Avenue is popular. The No. 2 special, a beef burrito, rice and fried beans will cost you about $5.
You'll have to cross the river to Edgewood Avenue South to get to Moon River pizza. Get there early. Two slices of pizza and a drink will cost you $6.
When I am really trying to save, I take a lunch break at Chan's Chinese restaurant on Main Street. Its lunch specials will cost less than $5 without a drink but for an extra $1.25, toss in an egg roll.
At new place in town Pollo Tropical, the menu varies but if you order the roast pork, yellow rice and black beans, you will have a satisfying lunch for less than $7.
I was trying to stay away from chains and franchises but the Cracker Barrel was too difficult to resist.
The weekday lunch specials cost $5.99; that does not include a drink, but water is free and it is healthy.
Speaking of healthy. Registered dietitian Mindy Black said saving money does not mean you have to compromise a healthy diet.
Black said your lunch needs three things for a good balance.
1) Make sure there is protein.
"That's really important to make sure there's some, either fish, meat, cheese, nuts or something like that in the meal," said Black.
2) Make sure there is fiber.
"We all hear about it keeps us regular and cholesterol down, but it also keeps us fill," she said.
3) Make sure you lunch includes fruits or vegetables.
"You can order a sliced apple on the side instead of chips," said Black.
Our fourth location comes from Mindy Black. At Tropical Smoothie, a flat bread sandwich, a drink and fruit will cost about $6.
Carmine's Pie House on Forbes Street in the Riverside Area was suggested by several viewers. You can get two big slices of cheese pizza and a drink for $5. Toppings are 50 cents extra.
Chomp - Chomp at 106 E. Adams St is new, about five months old and the menu's eclectic. Almost everything on the lunch menu is seven dollars or less.
At Tidbits on Hendricks Avenue, the menu includes daily lunch specials with a beverage for less than $.
I'm sure that there are many more places, but keep in mind, you don't have to break the bank or sacrifice healthy eating.
First Coast News