Cold Lunch Ideas – Brown-Bagging Your Lunch

You’ve heard me say time and time again that one of the best ways to save money on food is to take your lunch to work. Cutting these expensive meals from your food budget can save you as much as $200 each month. However, coming up with a variety of meal options everyday can make this hard to do.

Many people resort to bringing frozen meals to work to fill this need. Unfortunately, this may not always be the best choice. Frozen meals aren’t known for being the most nutritious meals out there (of course there are exceptions). In addition, not every workplace includes access to a microwave. How are you going to cook that frozen meal without one of these appliances?

Carrying a cold lunch to work everyday is a great alternative to eating out or bringing microwave meals to work. There are as many options as there are colors in the rainbow; you just have to be a little creative.

Sandwiches: Bringing a sandwich in your lunchbag isn’t exactly a new concept. You probably did it a lot in grade school. Now that you’re a grown up, though, you can be a little more diverse in your sandwich components. You might have a chicken salad sandwich one day and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich the next. Mixing up your sandwich choices will help keep you from feeling like you’re in a lunch rut.

Salads: Salads are another lunch option that leaves you with many choices. Your salad can be as simple as you want it to be. You may prefer some basic salad greens with a light touch of ranch dressing. Or you can enjoy a rich salad of greens, almonds, dried cranberries, and vinaigrette dressing. Just remember to keep any wet components like dressing in a separate container until you’re ready to eat.

Cheese and Fruit Assortment: This cold lunch allows you to get to get a taste of something sweet and some much-needed protein in the middle of your day. You can vary the fruit choice according to what’s in season and on sale.

Leftovers: Last night’s dinner doesn’t have to be left out simply because we’re talking about cold lunches. There are some leftovers that are even better served cold than they are warm. Meatloaf slices and fried chicken both make great cold entrees. Add an apple and a snack pack to your lunchbag, and you’ve got a very satisfying lunch.

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4 comments

  1. Kara says:

    Here’s what I brought for lunch today: 1 can black beans, 1 can corn (no salt added), one can diced tomatoes – drain them all and mix well. Crumble over about 2 oz of feta cheese. Add whatever spices you want – I ususally add garlic, pepper, and some chives. This will make 3 lunches for me. It’s really healthy, very filling, and can be stored in a lunch bag with one of those “blue ice” things to keep it cool.

  2. Craig says:

    I always brown bag my lunch, it’s healthier and cheaper.

  3. Joshua Smith says:

    Great article! It’s refreshing to read about people being smart with their money. In these times of economic crisis, everyone’s waiting on their “bail-out package!” I would love to share some more ideas that I have about saving money and living cheaper. Come check it out at http://remediesbyjosh.blogspot.com/

  4. Mercy Mei says:

    I posted in another place about my lunch ideas… whoops! But I wanna add… if you can get a good deal on frozen foods… go for it. But in most cases, you’re better off with your own leftovers or a sandwich. Cold cuts are cheaper than buying a sub and you can make your own chicken salad from leftoevers by just added a little mao and maybe chopped celery. You can get fancier if you like. Or not. Regardless, it will invariably less expense than paying someone else to do it for you at a restaurant or snack bar.

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