Doing Lunch on a Budget
March 16, 2012
With kids and a full time job, packing lunches in a morning time duty that can get boring quick. Sandwich, cookie, chips, and drink are the staple kid's lunch, but adults usually get a bit more creative with soup or even frozen dinner entrees. However, you can really expand your ideas for adult and kids lunches with a thermos. You can also get creative with the idea of "lunchables" and just using your freezer to get the most from your leftovers.
- Hot dogs. Cook a hot dog however you'd like like. Fill a thermos with hot water and slip the hot dog inside, then seal the thermos. Pack a bun and condiments in a separate container. You can also cut up the hot dog and cook some baked beans for a pork and beans lunch. Add a side dish in a zip-lock bag like chips, peanuts or fresh fruit and you've got lunch.
- Mac and cheese. Make your favorite mac and cheese beforehand and place in a thermos, seal tightly and add a sandwich for an entire meal.
- Spaghetti and meatballs. This is a great idea for the thermos! Just pre-cook, eat for dinner and take the leftovers to work with you the next morning. The thermos will keep it perfectly warm until lunchtime.
- Lunchables. This is a really good idea for kids. The cost of these in the supermarkets is incredibly high, and it's something that you can make on your own with stuff that kids like to eat. Just pick up a package of crackers, some salami or turkey and cheese squares or string cheese, along with some fresh fruit, cookie and drink. Now you've got a good lunch that kids will actually eat and it's not hard on the budget to make.
- Creative sandwiches. Your bread doesn't have to be the same thing over and over. You can use tortillas, pita pockets, flatbread and crackers to make things interesting, or even bagels and English muffins. These are just some different alternatives and you can even make it healthier using flat bread and pita pockets.
- Yogurt and granola. This is a really healthy alternative to the traditional lunch. Most grocery stores have their own off brand of granola that you can buy in large batches. In addition, yogurt is incredibly cheap if made by the grocery store and you can usually buy in large tubs. Separately or mixed together, this is a great snack or lunch with some fresh fruit.
- Cutting it up. It's really important to cut up sandwiches or wraps into smaller pieces for kids to eat with their hands at lunch time. You can cut wraps into diagonal 1" slices. The trick is to refrigerate the night before slicing.
- Fruit skewers. If you love fresh fruit or your kids don't want to waste time getting sticky and trying to peel an orange, try making a fruit skewer. This goes along with cutting up food into smaller pieces. Just cut the fruit into smaller pieces and place on toothpicks for a fun idea. You can also make a fruit salad and place in a sealed container. Leftover yogurt containers work great for this.
There are some other ideas for making lunches go smoothly in the morning even on a foodstamp budget. It's about how you pack things into a lunch box. You should have a main dish, like a sandwich one side, separated with one or two sides and a drink. You can use muffin or cupcake liners to separate food. There are also Tupperware containers that make a space for each separate item in a lunch. Small vegetables, small fruit pieces and cut up items really work inside the small space of a lunchbox. Ice packs are incredibly useful for keeping things cold. Frozen water bottles can also act like an ice pack and give you something good to drink. Zip lock bags, a thermos and Tupperware are wonderful tools to preserving a good lunch.