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$20 or Bust: Three meals in one Spokane day for under $20 

Cheap Eats

click to enlarge The T.B.R. panini at the Garland Sandwich Shoppe is a filling lunch for under $8. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • The T.B.R. panini at the Garland Sandwich Shoppe is a filling lunch for under $8.

Eating three meals out in one day is usually not easy on your wallet (nor your waistline). It's a splurge most of us only tend to do when traveling or other rare occasions. It's easier than expected, however, to fill yourself up for three meals on $20 or less, even as menu prices continue to rise. Here's the proof that a $20 bill can last throughout one day of dining in Spokane without too much effort.

BREAKFAST

Most weekdays I start with a big bowl of Rice Krispies, saving more hearty breakfasts for a lazy weekend brunch. Savory breakfasts don't have to wait, though, if you stop at Biscuit Wizard in Spokane's Saranac Commons (19 W. Main), serving tasty, budget-friendly biscuits from morning to night. To keep things close to my $6.66 meal average, I go with the S.O.S. ($4.27, plus a $1 tip), a basic yet filling combo of a crispy, buttery house-made biscuit topped with country-style sausage gravy. Almost all other biscuit meals at the Wiz are under $10, so adjust your breakfast spending as needed.

As a long-time North Spokane resident, another favorite stop for affordable breakfasts is the Maple Street Bistro (5520 N. Maple), offering plenty of healthy morning options, like a $4 fruit and yogurt cup, $4 smoothies, $6.50 quiche and, of course, plenty of espresso drinks.

LUNCH

When you're trying to stretch a limited budget, and greasy drive-thru food isn't cutting it, there aren't a glut of options for under $10. Normally, this average lunch price isn't a problem for those of us eating our first and last meal at home, but we're looking to stay around $6-$7 here. While many hearty sandwich bargains can be found locally, the Garland Sandwich Shoppe's (3909 N. Madison St.) paninis run between $6.79 and $7.29 and are filling enough you can skip the chips or side if needed, which I did so I could leave a $1 tip. For a lighter option, I went with the T.B.R. ($6.79, plus $1 tip), with turkey and bacon on French bread, topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, sliced white onion and buttermilk ranch. The total came to $8.38, a little over target but with enough change for dinner.

For a lunch that's rolled and not stacked, the three different wraps (turkey bacon ranch, Cajun chicken or chicken caesar) at Caruso's, with locations in Spokane's University District, Coeur d'Alene and Spokane Valley, are $8 each.

DINNER

If there's ever a day I'm feeling too tired (i.e., lazy) to cook or go grocery shopping, a pit stop at the North Monroe Zip's is the ultimate treat. Plus, the price for a filling burger and my all-time favorite indulgent add-on — Zip's famous crinkle cut fries, with extra fry and tartar sauce, of course — is a helluva bargain. Usually I get the double cheeseburger ($4.29), but to prevent going over my $20 limit, I decide to go with my backup, the classic Papa Joe ($3.49). Add small fries for $1.99, and you've got dinner that'll satisfy and keep you energized off protein and carbs for the night. Pro tip: You can add grilled onions to any Zip's sandwich for free!

If you're craving a cheap burger on a Monday, consider the Backyard Public House's $6 Burger Night special, which offers the pub's classic Backyard Burger, with American cheese, bibb lettuce, tomato, mayo and caramelized onions at more than half-off the regular price of $13.50. The special runs from 5 pm to close every Monday.

TOTAL

Biscuit Wizard S.O.S ($5.65) + Garland Sandwich Shoppe T.B.R. ($8.38) + Zip's Papa Joe and fries ($5.96) = $19.99.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Twenty or Bust"

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