Taking your own lunch to work can save a ton of money over a year. Yes, just a plain old sandwich can be boring day after day, but there are some ways to make every brown bag lunch more exciting.
They’re easy to make but can get repetitious. Tip one; try using a different type of bread. Also, how about adding some herbs and spices. I’ve tried curry powder in just about everything from chicken to egg salad. And I’ve also added it to mayonnaise on turkey or ham sandwiches. Chutneys are another great addition. And speaking of egg salad, I’ve been add a pinch of onion powder and some parmesan cheese, and it really gives it a different taste. And even cheese sandwiches can be given a gourmet flavor by adding chopped sun dried tomatoes to the mayonnaise or a low fat spread. And another one of my favorites is cream cheese to which I’ve added different herbs. It’s so tasty, it’s all you need. And then there’s the infamous PB and J. Try using different jams, one of my favorites is peach.
Most days of the week, my lunch consists of leftovers from dinner the night before. You can eat it as is or make a new meal. Leftover vegetables can be used in a wrap, beans/rice in a burrito, meat in a sandwich.
Cold Weather’s on its Way
I hate to say goodbye to summer, but one thing I do like about colder weather is making soup. It’s inexpensive and good for you too. If you haven’t got one, buy a thermos and take some soup to work. If you bought a cup of soup in a deli or restaurant, you’re going to spend about $3. If you make it at home, depending on the ingredients, it’s less than a $1. Pick one with lots of fiber, like split pea or lentil and it will also beat in the mid-afternoon energy slump.
And if the mid energy slump does hit, one thing I love is trail mix. Not the prepackaged type but one I put together myself. I head to the bulk bin section at the supermarket or co-op and buy things like walnuts, pecans, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds etc and make a big batch and store it in a container. You can take out as much as you need each day.
If you’re looking for snacks to put into your lunchbox, string cheese tops my list. A close second is yogurt. However, I never buy the small containers. Years ago I invested in 4 ounce plastic containers with lids and fill them with yogurt from a 32 ounce container. It’s cheaper and there’s less waste.
Next time you’re tempted to reach for those boxed drinks complete with straws in the grocery store, think about what you have at home. I know these types of things are convenient and kids love them, but they really do take a big bite out of your food budget. I’ve seen containers complete with plastic straws in the juice aisle. Buy a few of them and fill them up each day.
Make The Lunch Fun
I’ve found and this is especially true for children, if you package the lunch in something nice, everything gets eaten…yes, even things like fruits and vegetables. You can buy a large plastic container and then buy smaller containers to fit inside and even a thermos, but one company that sells items that are perfect for a brown bag lunch is a company called Laptop Lunches. www.laptoplunches.com They have a good selection of items and if it doesn’t fit into your budget, they often have odds and ends on sale so check it out. The site also has a menu gallery and ideas for lunches.
And before I forget, in my article about preserving summer produce I didn’t give you the link to Jill Houk’s company Centered Chef. Here it is for those of you who wanted to check it out and try more of the mouthwatering recipes. www.centeredchef.com