Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Looking Forward to Lunch: Frugal Brown Bag Recipes

Guest post from Kate Sorenson of Coupon Cravings

Looking Forward to Lunch: Frugal Brown Bag Recipes

Brown bagging it for lunch, instead of getting take-out or eating at a restaurant, is one of the easiest ways to save thousands of dollars per year. Packing your own lunch means getting to control the price of your meals. You can watch out for sales at the grocery stores and pay attention to coupons for different ingredients. If there’s a special on ham, you can save money by planning to bring ham sandwiches for lunch that week.

Zen Habits calculates that bringing your own lunch from home costs only $1.00-$3.00 per meal, while eating at a restaurant can cost $10-$15 per meal. This adds up to over $3,000 a year of unnecessary spending!

Here are many of the other benefits of brown bagging:

  • Homemade lunches are healthier than high-calorie, over-processed restaurant meals.
  • Homemade lunches can often be tastier than those from restaurants.
  • By staying in and working through lunch, you may get to leave early at the end of the day.

For some great inspiration for making brown bag lunches more exciting, easy, and low-cost consider some of the following ideas:

Freeze Your Food
An interesting and timesaving idea is to freeze sandwiches in large batches that will keep for 1-3 months in the freezer. The benefits of freezing sandwiches include: saving money, saving time by making large batches at once, using leftovers, and ensuring healthy food by controlling the ingredients. Just be sure when freezing sandwiches to keep in mind the types of ingredients that freeze well:
·   Peanut butter
·   Tuna fish or salmon
·   Most meats such as roast beef, chicken and turkey
·   Hard and semi-hard cheeses, such as Swiss or Cheddar

Lunch Ideas
Try some of these meal ideas time you’re packing your lunch:
·   Burritos – use simple ingredients such canned beans, cooked chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, onions and/or peppers. Then roll them into whole wheat tortillas.
·   Subs - use sub rolls or pita and fill them with tuna, hummus, peanut butter, or sandwich meats. Try adding interesting crunchy ingredients like celery, shredded carrots, cucumber, or lettuce.
·   Pizza – use pre-made crust, sauce and cheese. To make it a little healthier, don’t forget to add veggies.
·   Remember to bring your own beverages from home for extra savings.

Harness Your Leftovers
For super easy and frugal lunches, Food and Fitness suggests using leftovers from dinner for your lunch. Some suggestions for using leftovers wisely include:
·   Using leftover chili to top a baked potato or put in a “sloppy Joe” sandwich.
·   Adding leftover vegetables to make a salad, soup or even omelet.
·   Cook a whole chicken and freeze leftovers in single portion sizes.
·   Use cereal crumbs as a yogurt or oatmeal topping or in place of flour in muffins and cookies.

Using these frugal and tasty tips for brown bag lunches will make overspending during your lunch hour a thing of the past.

This is a guest post from Kate Sorenson of Coupon Cravings, a site with 30k+ Facebook Fans and over 12,000 Twitter followers. Thanks, Kate Sorenson and Elizabeth Baker for contributing this article to my blog. visit www.couponcravings.com