The poke bowl is easily $20 at the restaurant, but you can get away with it for less than $3 when you make it yourself. Plus, it’s quick and easy to assemble. That’s why Vicky Payeur chose it as a main course in her lunch box, intended for adults. Price for full lunch: $5.25.

After accumulating a debt of $16,000 in her early twenties, Vicky Payeur changed her way of consuming. Her groceries only cost her $50 a week. She is behind the blog Living more with less, and has written the books Living with less (2020) and Cooking more with less. This last title will be published on September 13 by Éditions de l’Homme.

You can trade in the raw fish from the traditional poke bowl for imitation crab, hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna, or even leftover chicken or salmon. It is less expensive. “In addition, if the proteins are cooked, you can prepare some dishes two, three days in advance,” says Vicky Payeur. Cost: $2.50.

Vicky Payeur likes to bring two squares of dark chocolate in her lunch, which she saves for the end of the afternoon. When on sale, house brand 100g bars sell for three for $5. Cost: $0.40 for two squares.

For dessert, Vicky Payeur offers a recipe for magic coconut macaroons from her book Cooking more with less. Four ingredients, just 10 minutes to prep. Not too sweet, and impossible to miss. Cost: $0.40 for two.

Instead of buying ready-made granola bars, you can make your own energy balls. Vicky’s recipe easily adapts to ingredients lying around in the pantry. Plus, it’s a no-bake recipe. Cost: $1.20 for four.

Vicky prefers seasonal fruits, and it’s apple time. Take advantage of them, they are both better and cheaper. Cost: $0.50.

Instead of bringing plain water, why not flavor it yourself with liquid flavoring? Vicky Payeur opts for the private label, at $3.29 for 48 ml. Cost: $0.15 per serving.

Instead of buying a $6 latte at the local café, you can simply slip a tea bag into your lunch box. “It costs next to nothing,” says Vicky Payeur. Cost: $0.10.

Peanut butter can be replaced with nut butter.

Both recipes are taken from the Cooking More with Less book.

Children love when food is separated on their plate. Marie-Michelle Garon takes this into account in her Mexican-inspired lunch box: tortillas and mashed beans for dipping. Cost for full lunch: $4.95.

Actress who we have seen in District 31, Les beaux malaises and Piché: between heaven and earth, Marie-Michelle Garon is also passionate about cooking. She was a food columnist and co-wrote two budget cookbooks, La crustecassee and Beau, bon, pas cher. She is also the mother of a 3-year-old girl.

Marie-Michelle’s bean purée recipe is disarmingly simple. And it’s her daughter’s favorite meal (“before pasta!”). Top it off with homemade salsa, cheese cubes and two tortillas. Total cost: $3.00.

Instead of buying single-serving vegetable juices, which are 50% more expensive, you can buy a 1.36 L can and pour the juice into a reusable bottle. Cost for 160ml: $0.45.

In addition to being easy to make, homemade compote allows you to surreptitiously pass damaged fruit. If you are in a hurry, you can also buy a store-bought compote and pour it into a container. Cost: $0.50.

Commercial granola boxes are expensive, while “granola is basically oatmeal, oil and sugar,” says Marie-Michelle Garon. To reduce costs, you can even put seeds (pumpkin or sunflower) instead of nuts. It is served as a snack with yogurt. Cost (yogurt included): $1.00.

Side suggestions: tortillas, fresh salsa (cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, lime juice, oil, salt, pepper), cheese, sour cream.

It’s easy to double, triple, quadruple the recipe. The puree will keep for three days in the fridge, three months in the freezer.

The recipes are taken from the book Beau, bon, pas cher, co-written by Mariève Desjardins and Marie-Michelle Garon, and published by Éditions La Presse.