Seven under $7, 5 under $5

Like you, I love to eat out. And, like you, I have uh, many of those in-between-paycheck days where things have to get a little creative. I have been known, in fact, to dig for change in my backseat just to avoid those gnarly Tupperware bowls of leftovers in the fridge.

So, here are my secret indulgences for when the wallet’s tight. Seven hearty lunches under $7 and five bites under $5. You’ll never have to brown-bag it again.

1. Chiles relleno combination plate ($5.80), Taqueria Las Palmas: Deep-fried delight stuffed with cheese. 415 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, 707.546-3091.

2. Tomato basil Panini ($6.50), Fourth Street Market Deli: Yes, it’s a little spendy for a sandwich, but this crispy, pesto-filled monster will satisfy you for hours. 300 Mendocino, Santa Rosa, 707.573.9832

3. Stir fry ($6.95), Great Khan: The trick to Mongolian BBQ is learning the ‘stuff’. Start with the meat and press hard until you’ve got a nice well going on. Then load ’em up. 2109 Santa Rosa plz
Santa Rosa, 527-8482

4. Miang Kom ($6.50), California Thai: Dried shrimp, sugar cane paste, and chilis you wrap with spinach leaves. Entertainment and spice all in one. 522 7th St, Santa Rosa, 573-1441

5.Pesto pizza, Mombo’s Pizza lunch special ($6): A huge slice of pizza “go for the pesto “freshly crisped with a house salad and soda. Okay, it may lack creativity, but when you’re craving the ‘za, there’s no match. 1880 Mendocino Ave # B, Santa Rosa, 528-3278

6. Super buffet Chinese buffet: The buffet formerly known as Fou Zhou II. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A pound of food for under $6.50 is a deal any day. So what if 99 percent of it is fried? 450 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, 707.523.7000

7. Tikka masala ($6.99) Tandoori Express: Starving students know where the real grub is. This is a favorite guilty pleasure. Plus, some of the freshest naan in town. 1880 Mendocino Ave. #D, Santa Rosa, 707.543.8168

Five under $5

Need a super-budget nosh? Check these out

1. Fish taco ($2.10), Taco Del Mar: SEC Lakeville Hwy & S. Mc Dowell Blvd.
Petaluma, 782-9294

2. Rueben dog ($3.95), Hot Dog City: 631 4th St, Santa Rosa, 579-4885

3. Ceviche ($3), Tonyan Mexican Restaurant: 7293 Roxanne Ln, Rohnert Park, 588-0893

4. Pupusas ($2), Pupuseria Salvadorena, 1403 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.544.3141

5. Spam musubi ($1.73), Ohana Hawaiian BBQ, 2150 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, 707.571.8882. Also in Petaluma, 205 S. McDowell Blvd., 707.766.8282.

Plus, BiteClub heads to the Windy City to eat, eat, eat. Got any favorite Chicago dishes or restaurants you’d like to see me review? Let me know!