Save Big With Brown Bag Lunches
We all know the feeling of staring at a computer screen a little too long or having our cheeks hurt from smiling too much after speaking with customers. When lunch rolls around, we all want a change in scenery. Breaking up the day with an outside lunch and a little walk is something we all treasure. However, there can be a steep price to pay for that daily treat. On average, you can save at least $100 a month by brown bagging it rather than going out to eat. You can still go out with coworkers once in a blue moon and have an occasional treat. However, after you see the results in your slimmed down waistline and fatter wallet, you may never want to grab takeout again. The thing with committing to brown bagging your lunch is you must buy food items you want to eat. It doesn’t matter if you have coupons galore for a great lunch if you will be curling your lips and hating every bite. By not taking into consideration what you actually want, you might wind up spending more money at the vending machine because you do not want a desk lunch that was not to your liking. Explore a few delicious and nutritious options to make lunch an event rather than a disappointment.
The tricky with having a filling salad is to use heartier vegetables. Think kale, broccoli and carrots. Do not think of wedges of Iceburg lettuce that have little nutritional value and will leave you hungry after an hour. Salads can be bulked out with beans or made from three types of beans. As long as there is a foundation of greens, legumes or vegetables, you can call it a salad. Make or buy your preferred dressing. Keep it in a separate container from your salad to prevent a soggy lunch. Be mindful that an extras on top of your salad, including cheese, turkey bacon and eggs, will make you fuller yet add a significant amount of calories. Choose your toppings wisely.
You can cook a big pot of rice and/or potatoes to use as a base for meats and vegetables. This can be down on a slow cooker on Sundays or during the week with a pressure cooker. Again, make sure you are cooking food that you will eat. If regular potatoes are too bland, try sweet potatoes. You can use the rice as a base for delicious stir fry and potatoes always go well with leftover meat. You can also make mashed potatoes as a filling side. If you really don’t want to do any extra cooking, you can always cook more food with each dinner and pack a container before you sit down to eat. However, having a few staples on hand can give you peace of mind during the week when there is a traffic jam or a school event. Planning ahead helps you stay on track with your savings.
Lunch meat has a bad reputation. However, it can also be a blessing when you are on a tight budget. You can have a slice or two and be fine. If the deli isn’t your scene, consider peanut butter and jelly. The childhood staple is loaded with protein to keep you full. Apples, celery and carrots can be mixed in with tuna fish to create a nutrient-rich mid-day jackpot. You can also go on Pinterest to get creative with your selections. Experiment with fresh herbs such as basil or fruits like figs that go surprisingly well with almost everything. If you are so pressed for time that making a sandwich in the night or day will cause a delay, consider freezing a week’s worth at a time. You can let it thaw out at your desk or in your locker. By the time lunch rolls around, you will have a portable feast that will fill you up until it is time to clock out for the day.
What you have for dinner can make a stellar lunch. Leftovers are filling, full of nutrients and tasty. The trick to reheating leftovers is to add a fun twist. Think BBQ sauce for proteins, throw a bit of red onions and cheese on for a Tex Mex vibe or crown a handful of greens with your leftovers. Plan and use food that reheats well, including soups, rice and stir fry. The limit is your imagination!
Monotony can set in after a few brown bag lunches. Always check to see what is on sale or in season. January boasts broccoli and oranges. February loves cauliflower and lemon. March is abundant with mushrooms and pineapples. April is all about asparagus and cherries. May offers okra and apricots. June is ripe with zucchini and cantaloupe. July celebrates corn and blueberries. August loves squash and apples. September triumphs via green beans and grapes. October delights sweet potatoes and cranberries. November harvests spinach and pears. December gifts cabbage and tangerines.
Another way to beat monotony is to assign meals to days of the week. Mondays can be sandwiches. Tuesdays can be salad. Wednesday can be wraps. Thursday can be stews. Friday can be your wild card day. If you have some trouble transitioning to brown bag lunches, give yourself a mid-week treat with a soda, coffee or bag of chips. This can only be used once a week. Do not incorporate until you are confident you won’t fall off the brown bag wagon.
Eating on a budget does not have to be a hassle. With a little planning and some grit, you will be able to save for an emergency fund and have tremendous peace of mind. In addition to brown bagging it, did you know Q Link Wireless can save you at least $40 a month? Sign up today for free cellphone service that includes 3 GB of data, 1000 free minutes and unlimited texting. You’ll never get a bill and can put those savings toward your bright future. Get connected to the rest of America by becoming a member of the Q Link family.