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Weekday lunches for under $15

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Tired of boring sandwiches from the office café and fed up with food courts? Weekday lunches can be a challenge, whether you’re grabbing a bite with a friend or just after something for yourself, no-one wants to spend a mint on expensive workday lunches.

So if you’re looking for something healthy, spicy Asian fare or even a good pub deal then keep on reading because we’ve rounded up a great range of affordable lunches to see you through the working week.

Healthy eats

Thr1ve {Canberra Centre, (opposite Supabarn)} 

Paleo-inspired chain Thr1ve is my go-to healthy lunch spot in the city, and their signature lunch bowls are now even more customisable with the new autumn/winter menu. The menu is based on fresh, cooked-to-order whole foods and is entirely gluten free, which means coeliacs and gluten intolerants can breathe easy.


Healthy whole foods from Thr1ve. Image courtesy Thr1ve.

Choose from bases like fresh greens, rice, seasonal mash and zucchini noodles. Then choose your protein – chicken, salmon, beef, pork of vegetarian, then add whichever sides take your fancy. My favourite combo is the lemon and herb chicken with leafy greens, seasonal mash and smashed avocado ($12), the perfect size to leave me full but not too stuffed. The flexible menu means you can easily upsize or add more sides if you’re extra hungry. The island coffee, a long-black with a dash of house made coconut milk and a hint of cinnamon, is also delicious and an interesting twist on your regular coffee.

Saigon Fresh {Gungahlin}

While I’ve not yet visited here myself, I am told on good authority by editor Jessica Schumann that this is the place to go for one very cheap and very fresh eat. We’re talking the Pork Saigon Roll loaded with fresh coriander, fresh chilli, pickled carrot, pork, pate and whatever else you can cram on it. And all for $6.50 (unless you ask for extras of course). This little northside gem is always come lunchtime so be sure to get there quick or prepare for a short wait. They also do fresh juices and make your own fresh fruit salads (with plenty of options).

Spud Bar {Garema Place}

Potato lovers, this is the perfect healthy option for you! Pick your favourite type of baked potato (regular or sweet potato) and load it up with toppings. Choose favourites from Spud Bar’s menu like Mexican Chicken ($12.60) with delicious jalapeno mayo, Slow Cooked Lamb ($12.90), or classics like The Festival ($8.20), which features baked potato classics like bacon, cheese and sour cream. Or make up your own!

Mexican Chicken spud_FB

The Mexican Chicken spud, photo courtesy of Spud Bar.


The servings sizes are huge so if you’re not super hungry you can pick up a half-size spud from $6.20. Spud bar has salads (for the carb-conscious), great vegetarian options and an entirely gluten free menu.

Guzman y Gomez {Canberra Centre & Westfield Belconnen}

While GYG might be famous for its nachos and burritos, their fresh salads are a great option for a Mexican treat without the calories. Don’t forget, your salad ($11) with your choice of meat or vegetarian, isn’t complete without a side of guacamole ($2) for the full Mexican food experience.


Famous Nachos… corn chips, jack cheese, vegetarian black beans, pico de gallo salsa, guacamole & your favourite filling. Image courtesy: Guzman Y Gomez.

The lines can get a little long at lunch time in the city but I’ve never waited more than about 10 minutes for my lunch, quite quick considering it’s cooked fresh. Bonus: you can even order your lunch online so you can walk in and pick it up at your nearest store.

Asian bites

Asian Noodle House {Civic, Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong}

Let’s get straight to the point here…there’s one reason you go to Asian Noodle House, and that is LAKSA. Duck, seafood, chicken, pork, choose your favourite type of meat to be drowned in the delicious spicy red, coconut soup.

Half size chicken laksa at Asian Noodle House.

Half size chicken laksa at Asian Noodle House.

At most you’ll pay $15 for a jumbo laksa, but dine in and you can get a very generous “half size” laksa ($12) which satisfies my lunchtime hunger pangs. If you’re worried about potential spillage on your work outfit (a serious risk!), they have an extensive menu with all your noodle favourites (pad thai, pad siew) for under $15.

Bistro Nguyen’s {Melbourne Building, Canberra}

It’s no surprise that newcomer Bistro Nguyen’s has rapidly become a favourite for pho lovers in Canberra. Their pho (traditional Vietnamese rare beef noodle soup) is perfectly balanced, flavoursome, and perfect for a chilly winter day.

Bistro Nguyen’s pho, courtesy of Bistro Nguyen.

Bistro Nguyen’s pho, courtesy of Bistro Nguyen.

At $12.90 it’s perfect for a cheap and quickly served lunch. If you’re dining in you can entertain yourself spotting the various Vietnamese foods on the cartoon mural on the back wall. In a rush? Grab a Vietnamese Pork roll ($7.50) or rice paper rolls (3 for $6.50) to eat on the go.

Lemongrass Thai {Woden, Tuggeranong and Civic}

Canberra’s Thai staple Lemongrass has a menu of classic Thai noodle and stir fry dishes for their $12.50 lunch specials across all restaurants. The chicken praram is mix of tender steamed vegetables and chicken drowned in a delicious satay sauce, and the kanar moo krob (wok fried crispy pork with Chinese broccoli) is one I’ll bookmark for next time.

Chicken praram lunch special at Lemongrass Thai.

Chicken praram lunch special at Lemongrass Thai.

The stir fries come with a side of rice so no need for complicated sharing arrangements with your lunch buddies. Good vegetarian and gluten free options too.

Pubs and burgers

Shorty’s Bar {Civic}

Dine at city pub Shorty’s between Monday-Wednesday and nab a lunch deal. On Mondays your $15 will get you one of Shorty’s gourmet burgers, Tuesday is parmas and schnitzels, or grab a steak on Wednesdays.

Who doesn’t love a parmigiana on a Tuesday? Image courtesy: Shorty’s Bar.

Who doesn’t love a parmigiana on a Tuesday? Image courtesy: Shorty’s Bar.

Even better, all the specials come with a beer, wine or shake.

The London Burgers & Beers {Belconnen & Tuggeranong}

Take your pick of a healthy or not so healthy lunch at The London, depending on which day visit. Get through your Tuesday with a $10 London Lot Burger, a burger with, well, the lot: a beef patty with bacon, Swiss cheese, caramelised onion, egg, pineapple, beetroot and more. Or you can make friends with $10 salads on Wednesdays.

Smoque {Civic & Woden}

BBQ mecca Smoque has $15 lunch specials Monday-Thursday. Any burger or sandwich on the menu comes with your choice of a small side, salad or their famous buffalo hot wings.

Smoque’s original sandwich. Image: Smoque.

Smoque’s original sandwich. Image: Smoque.

The menu of slow-cooked meats translates perfectly to a sandwich filling, or try a southern-style burger like “Mammas” Buttermilk Fried Chicken Po Boy.

Marble & Grain {Braddon}

Braddon’s newest gastropub has a daily $14 lunch menu of pub favourites – think burgers, schnitzels and Caesar salads. Enjoy the cosy fit out for a fraction of the price of the regular menu.

Treehouse Bar {Canberra City}

With $9 weekday lunch specials Wednesday to Friday, Treehouse has a slightly more adventurous menu than your average pub.

Blackboard lunch specials at Treehouse.

Blackboard lunch specials at Treehouse.

There’s usually a curry, soup, salad and a pasta dish in their rotating menu of around five dishes every weekday. For an extra $3 you can get a glass of house wine, beer or a soft drink with your lunch.

There are many more great lunch spots all around Canberra. If you have a favourite lunch place to share let us know in the comments!

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