Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WFMW: Packing Lunches

It's always one of the first tips of any article about saving money on food, and it's undeniably true: packing lunches for work or school instead of buying them can save hundreds of dollars a year.  I am blessed to have a husband who is as frugal as I am and who never complains about bringing his lunch to work every day.

However, my dear hubby has occasionally been known to complain about the selection, especially if I've been getting in a rut of packing the same thing or if the lunch is too heavy on the carbs and not enough on the protein.  That's why I always need new creative ideas for healthy and frugal sack lunches.  Since I'm sure some of you could use similar ideas, I thought I'd share some of our sack lunch standbys, and I hope that you will share yours!

Here are some of the options that I usually pack for my husband:

- Leftovers - This is probably the number one lunch item for my husband and myself.  Dinner leftovers are usually filling and tasty, and having them for lunch avoids waste.  If I have a lot of a particular leftover (and we're not eating it again for dinner), I'll often freeze it in individual serving-size plastic containers.  Then I can easily pull one out to pack in a lunch even weeks later.

- Cheese and crackers - This is a simple option that can have many variations, depending on the types flavors of the cheese and crackers.  A sturdy cheese (like cheddar) also holds up well if it is out of the fridge for a little while.  My husband always appreciates having some meat, so I often add pepperoni or slices from a stick of salami to round off the meal.

- Quesadillas - Tortillas filled with cheese and whatever vegetables, meats, or beans I have around are easy to throw together in the morning and easy to reheat later.  I include a small container of salsa for dipping.

- Pizza - When I make homemade pizza for our family, I always make two.  I cut the second pizza that we don't eat for dinner into quarters, wrap them in foil, and freeze each quarter individually.  When I put them in Michael's lunch bag, I always include a plate, so he has something to microwave the pizza on.

- Salad - My husband loves salad, so I should try to incorporate this more often.  My goal is to try to always include two fruit or vegetable sides in his lunch bag (since he eats breakfast at work as well).  When I give him a green salad, I usually put the dressing on the side in a mini plastic container.  I also do a fruit salad occasionally, usually with a mix of fresh and canned fruit.  In the summer, he enjoys a pasta salad with chicken and vegetables, which is an easy one-container lunch.

- Prepared microwavable meals - These are definitely more of a backup option than a standby, and my husband is never crazy about them.  However, when I get a microwavable meal or soup very cheap or free on a coupon deal, I save them for crazy days when I need to come up with a lunch quickly.  It saves Michael from having to get takeout on a busy day, and they are definitely healthier than fast food.

Packing lunches definitley Works for Me.  What about you?  I need some new ideas; please share your frugal sack lunches in the comments section!


  1. My husband will occasionally take green or red peppers cut into thick strips and some tuna salad to scoop up with them.

  2. My husband loves soup or chili in a thermos with cornbread or crackers, also hummus and pita.

  3. I always try to have some emergency foods stashed in my cubicle so If I'm rushing out the door I still can get a lunch without breaking out the credit card.

    I like to have ramen noodles (microwave easily) a can of tuna, peanut butter stashed away for just such an event.


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