Skip Takeout in Favor of Delicious Packed Lunches
When lunchtime hits during the busy workday, you want something delicious, filling and fast. Grabbing grub from a delectable deli or munching on chips and queso from a popular Mexican restaurant is tempting, but it can dwindle down the bank account. The good news is it’s still possible to have a delicious meal and stick to a budget with these packed lunch ideas.
1. Not the Same Old Soup and Sandwich
Nothing is more filling than some homemade soup to warm up body and soul. Soups can be made in advance and shared with several family members for a budget-friendly packed lunch. Meal prep soup ahead of time and freeze or store in the fridge for week-long meal options.
Change up classic tomato and chicken noodle to include black bean and ham, taco soup or cheddar broccoli. Use a small thermos to keep it hot or a plastic container for reheating at work or school. Pair it up with a pre-made grilled gouda on rye or prosciutto and pimento on whole wheat to round out the meal.
2. Incorporate Those Fruits and Veggies
Are you a weekend shopper? If so, use up fruit and veggies during the first part of the week for optimal freshness. Both are great cut up for kids’ lunches or make it a full meal by creating a healthy salad with sugar-free dressing on the side. Try dehydrating some strawberries or pineapple for a long-lasting sweet treat to snack on throughout the day or while on the go.
3. Recycle Dinner Leftovers
To keep lunchtime on a budget, using up leftovers is tasty and easy. If there’s some meatloaf in the fridge, chop it up and use it as a base for some soft tacos or a pasta side. Bring some instant-flavored potatoes to work and heat up with last night’s turkey breast. Lasagna, marinated chicken breasts and shish kabobs are flavorful leftovers that always taste better the next day. You can even plan to have leftovers by making extra when you cook..
4. Wrap It Up
Wraps and flatbreads are good to have on hand for quick, inexpensive lunch options. Create roll-ups the night before featuring one of these scrumptious combos:
- Tuna, egg or chicken salad
- Roast beef and provolone cheese
- Southwestern chicken strips
- Crockpot pulled-pork
Add fresh lettuce, onion or other veggies from the fridge. Use the condiments and sauces you already have on hand for extra flavor to complete the wrap.
5. Recreate Stir Fry Take Out
Chinese takeout can be pricey. Buying chicken, beef or pork on sale saves money for meals and on-the-run lunches. Before freezing, cut, season or marinate the meat. Cook it up along with some frozen or fresh vegetables to create a stir-fry base to use throughout the week. Store in lunch containers or plastic bags and then freeze so meal prep is done for a quick grab and go on busy weekday mornings.
It’s best to invest in a lunch box with compartments for condiments and side snacks. Keep plenty of portion-size containers on hand to meal prep for the week or month ahead. The best way to stay away from the take-out window is to make lunches interesting, easy, tasty and budget-friendly.
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!