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A spread of Filipino dishes, including grilled fish, kare-kare, and pinakbet, served with bowls of white rice

5 Ulam Ideas for Lunch Under ₱50

Many Filipino moms dread meal planning and budgeting. It’s not always easy to come up with ulam ideas for lunch while considering the nutritional needs and personal preferences of the whole family. Then you have other limitations, such as avoiding cooking the same recipes from last week and staying within the budget. Or else, you have to go back to the drawing board and make cuts on other necessary expenses.

But a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do. Wait, that doesn’t mean relying on fried, instant, and unhealthy food. It’s easy to just fry a pack of longganisa and serve that with cup noodles and a big pot of steamed rice. Filling, yes. Maybe even comforting! But that might eventually cause more harm to your family’s health than good.

Even if you’re working with a shoestring budget, you can still offer your brood a well-balanced meal. Here are some nutritious and delicious weekday lunch ideas that cost under ₱50 per person. If you’re a family of four, that means spending less than ₱200 for the entire meal. You might think this will be a list of all easy chicken recipes. There is one option for that, but these suggestions also highlight the other types of affordable proteins and fresh ingredients you can use. You got this, mom!

Monday: Corned Beef Soup

A bowl of soup filled with corned beef, potatoes, carrots, and greens

Don’t let rainy days and Mondays get you down. Start the week with a bang – beef! Don’t be surprised or even intimidated. This corned beef soup doesn’t require expensive cuts of meat and only takes 30 minutes to finish. Using the canned variety in a soup is an inexpensive weekday lunch solution that gives it new life. Load up your pot with veggies, like tomatoes, cabbage, or any other fresh produce sitting in your fridge.


2 tbsp cooking oil – ₱6

3 cloves garlic – ₱.75

1 onion – ₱5

2 tomatoes –₱8

2 (150-g) cans corned beef – ₱62

4 cups water – ₱4

2 pcs Knorr Beef Cube – ₱10

¾ cup cabbage – ₱5

Total: ₱100.75

Serving size: 4 pax

Cost per person: ₱25.2

Tuesday: Tokwa Sarciado

Tokwa sarciado made with fresh tofu, eggs, tomatoes, garlic, and onion

Choose tofu on Tuesdays. It’s a reliable protein source high in fiber but low in calories. It’s gluten-free, too! You get satisfied after your meal but without that heavy feeling when you eat red meat. Most Filipino households use tofu for tokwa’t baboy, sisig, or sizzling tofu a la Max’s. Here’s a new recipe to add to that list: tokwa sarciado, which features golden tofu cubes tossed in a fresh sauce of eggs, tomatoes, and onions. Done in 25 minutes!


3 pcs tofu – ₱24

1 egg – ₱7.5

1 clove garlic – ₱.25

1 onion – ₱5

1 tomato – ₱4

1 Knorr Chicken Cube – ₱5

Total: ₱45.75

Serving size: 5 pax

Cost per person: ₱9.15

Wednesday: Pork Meatballs

A stack of pork meatballs served in a green bowl, served with sweet-chili sauce on the side

Happy hump day! Feeling stressed from juggling work and house chores? Don’t give in to temptation by having lunch delivered instead of making it yourself. On days like this, pork meatballs are your best friend. Your kids’, too, especially if you tuck in more veg aside from carrots. Even if you have less than an hour in the kitchen, you can get these balls on the table with no sweat. You can even prep these at the weekend, store them in the freezer, and fry whenever.


250 g ground pork – ₱76

1 onion – ₱5

5 cloves garlic – ₱1.25

¼ cup all-purpose flour – ₱4.50

1 egg – ₱7.50

1 Knorr Pork Cube – ₱5

ground pepper – ₱1

1 small carrot – ₱9

canola oil – ₱50

sweet-chili sauce – ₱25

Total: ₱184.25

Serving size: 4 pax

Cost per person: ₱46

Thursday: Fried Rice Chicken Gata

Two bowls of chicken fried rice filled with carrots and green peas

Here’s the easy Pinoy chicken recipe you’ve been waiting for. But this is not the usual budget chicken recipe that calls for wings, feet, or other odd cuts. Fillets are the star of this fried rice chicken gata. They’re tossed with bell peppers, carrots, and green peas in a coconut-based sauce to create super fried rice. Imagine, you already get all major food groups in one dish. And everything comes together in 20 minutes. Easy, breezy!


4 tbsp cooking oil – ₱12

6 cloves garlic – ₱1.5

250 g chicken fillet – ₱85

½ pack Knorr Ginataang Gulay Mix – ₱8

½ cup water – ₱.5

½ pc bell pepper – ₱8

⅓ pc small carrot – ₱3

⅓ cup peas – ₱4.25

1 Knorr Chicken Cube – ₱5

4 cups cooked rice – ₱16

Total: ₱143.25

Serving size: 4 pax

Cost per person: ₱35.8

Friday: Fish and Vegetable Teriyaki

Fish fillets and sliced green beans in teriyaki sauce

Congratulations! You made it to the end of the week. Before you ease into a weekend of guilty pleasures, go for fish first. Instead of the usual chicken or pork, this teriyaki recipe features crunchy green beans and fresh tilapia for a lighter fare. Kids being picky when it comes to whole fish? Slice them into fillets for easier consumption. But as a compromise, add more veg to the dish. Carrots, broccoli, and young corn are worthy options.


1 tilapia – ₱95

salt – ₱1

pepper – ₱1

1 tbsp soy sauce – ₱1

2 tbsp brown sugar – ₱1.75

1 tsp grated ginger – ₱.5

1 clove garlic – ₱.25

1 tbsp cornstarch – ₱1

1 cup water – ₱1

1 Knorr Chicken Cube – ₱5

1 cup green beans – ₱15

Total: ₱122.5

Serving size: 4 pax

Cost per person: ₱30.63

The soaring prices of ingredients and fresh produce are an additional nightmare for moms. Luckily, these ulam ideas for lunch still offer some leeway to keep you within budget even as inflation hits. Use this guide when planning for next week’s menu, and you’ll soon realize that homemade budget meals can still feel and taste extra special.

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