Win in this Economy: Make a Lunchtime Plan and Save Money
Make A Lunch Plan For WInning In This Economy
Planning is a practical building block for weathering life's ups and downs.
In the context our lunch hour we can plan to save money by getting organized with a lunchtime proposal for this financial climate.
Save Money With Healthy Food
No matter what direction trends take, planning saves money. Follow the foundational plan below or use it as a guide to develop your own recipe for economical lunches.
It is about more than just being a thrifty person, though. Eating for your health is an important aspect of planning on not eating lunch out.
Even though saving money may be a primary goal, you will not sacrifice healthy nutrition when you have a plan. Winning in this economy most certainly includes good tasting food that is also good-for-you food!
There are some great ways to win when finances are tight, and it can be a win-win if you make a lunchtime plan to save money and eat healthily!
A Quick and Healthy Lunch
Build Savings in Today's Economy by Planning Lunch Time
Have you noticed that in this economy we have some improved customer service in many stores? At least in our area it’s true--and it’s nice.
Walk into the major home improvement stores and there are employees offering help from the moment we walk in the door. In the past it was difficult to find any kind of employee at even the service desks in some of these places, but it is a different story today.
Large department stores even seem to have caught on to the fact that they need to cherish the customers that are coming in. Their employees are more visible than usual, and I notice the same in drug stores.
And, in restaurants? We are definitely getting better attendance. So much so that the attention is sometimes obnoxious, but at least we don’t have to go thirsty while waiters and waitresses congregate in a doorway flirting with each other or mocking their customers.
Part of the change in restaurants is that there are fewer people eating out, the reason being that it is simply cheaper to eat at home. It’s not always easy to run home for lunch, and in many cases it is a logistically impossible possibility.
While eating out at lunchtime has been a long term norm for many, the idea of taking lunch to work is being revisited today. Fast-paced lifestyles have been a hindrance to taking lunches to work but modern grocery store convenience foods make it much easier to take brown bag lunches on most days.
The savings gained from making one’s own lunch is the bottom-line, but no one wants to compromise health or time for any reason. So what are the best options for those who plan to take their lunch to work? Here are some tips and lunch menus to help you think through what works best in your situation.
Developing your plan is the first step to success, but what ever you decide to eat, how ever you decide to prepare it, just make certain you are eating healthy as well as economically.
Building a Shopping List for Lunch Items Plan
Convenience foods in your supermarket aisles include the deli selections that most good chains have been developing over the last few years.
Prepared salads, such a chicken or ham salad can be purchased in 1/2 pound to 3 pound cartons and used to make sandwiches or mix with greens.
Sliced meats, of course, have been a staple of homemade lunches for a long time, but today you can get all natural, nitrate free, and even “organic” in many regular grocery stores.
In the produce section there are prepackaged lettuces and spinach for making great lunchtime salads. Today’s lunch bags that are lined like a cooler keep these homemade salads crisp throughout a long morning.
Boiling a dozen eggs on the weekend and using them in salads throughout the week adds needed protein to the middle of your day. Boiled eggs also give you the option of making up a batch of your own egg salad for a down-home sandwich midweek.
Many of the produce aisles carry smaller packages of ready to eat organic veggies (carrots, celery, etc.) for easy salad making or for dipping and snacking.
In the dairy department you will also find a variety of prepackaged cheeses, yoghurts, and drinks to make taking your lunch a breeze without compromising your health. Cottage and ricotta cheeses come in individual serving packages to mix into salads or with fruits.
Fresh Salsa for Lunch Time
Canned fruits come in single-serve pop tops now, but better yet, individual servings of fresh fruits can often be found in produce sections. Whole fruits, though, have always been the original grab and go single-serving health food. Fruits at break time should be a part of our daily routine no matter what. Whether we take our lunch or not, a whole fruit mid-morning and mid-afternoon means that we are doing our bodies good.
Of course, there are the frozen food aisles that offer a wide range of meals for those times when we really have no time. They would never be my first choice, but there are some better and best choices among the options. These newer frozen meals include the chance to have low-calorie and all natural/organic lunches.
All of these options are certainly more expensive than growing our own food and preparing it from garden to freezer in our own home, but they are less expensive than eating out. Taking advantage of sales on these items is smart, so is using coupons, but even without sales and coupons people say that they come out on top by taking their lunch from home.
A Foundation for Building Lunch Menus
The following sample menu plan is for one person for one week. Think it through to get you started on an important change in your life and adjust it to foods you like to eat. Before long you’ll be glad you incorporated the habit of taking your lunch to work into your daily routine and you'll be winning in this economy!
Keep On Hand:
snack sized baggies, sandwich baggies, containers sized for salads, small containers for various dips
1/2-1 pound package of deli chicken salad and a 1/2-1 pound package of deli ham salad. (Check the dates to get the store’s freshest stock.)
1/2 pound of a the deli pasta salads, your favorite variety
1/2-1 pound hummus and/or pimento cheese
1-2 bags of your favorite pre-washed, ready to eat lettuce
1 bag of pre-washed, ready to eat spinach
1 bag of organic baby carrots
1 bag of shredded organic carrots
1 bag of organic celery sticks
2 different kinds of your favorite salad dressings (it’s risky to use poppyseed dressing if your job requires surprise drug tests)
1 loaf of good quality bread
1 box of herb seasoned crackers
1 multi pack of your favorite yoghurt
1 multi pack of individual serving size, ready-to-eat fruit
1 multi pack of individual serving juices (not juice “drinks”)
1 bag or package of walnuts
1 bag or package of mixed nuts
1 bag or packages of sunflower seeds
Any seasonings that you many not have on hand such as celery seed
1 dozen eggs
1/2 dozen quality deli cookies
Two-For-One Flavor Treat--1 Sandwich 2 ways, 1 Snack 2 veggies
Cut 2 slices of bread in half and spread 2 quarters with chicken salad and two quarters with ham salad. Put lettuce in the middle before closing up the sandwiches.
Put a couple of tablespoons of salad dressing in a container or snack bag for dipping.
Pack another container or snack bag with carrots and celery sticks.
Include an individual juice with this lunch and you are good to go to work on the first day of the week.
Monday is your first cookie day--pack 2.
Salad & Salad--Green and Fruit Salads
Mix some lettuce, spinach, shredded carrots, (and any other salad fixins’ you may have picked up), add a sliced or diced boiled egg (or two) in a salad container. (Don’t forget a fork when you pack your lunch.)
Break up some walnuts to put on top and take them in a snack bag
Put a couple of tablespoons of salad dressing in a snack bag, (snip a corner off the snack bag just before eating to drizzle on top of your salad).
Pack some seasoned crackers in a snack bag.
Pack a serving of hummus or pimento cheese in a small container.
Pack a snack bag with carrots and/or celery sticks for dipping out hummus.
Pack a juice drink.
Egg Salad Sandwich--A Mid-Week Back-Home Special
Make up a plain egg salad recipe and dice some celery to mix in with it, then throw in just a few shredded carrots. Use some spinach leaves instead of lettuce on your sandwich.
Put a large handful of mixed nuts into a snack bag.
Pack a fruit cup.
Pack 2 cookies.
Pack a juice drink.
Souped Up Chicken Salad--A Seed Filled Salad
Mix lettuce with the remaining the chicken salad. Sprinkle celery seeds and sunflower seeds on top.
Put a couple of tablespoons of salad dressing in a container or snack bag, and fill another container or snack bag with carrots and celery sticks.
Pack a fruit cup and a yoghurt cup.
Pack 2 cookies.
Pack a juice drink.
A Super Energy Week Finisher--Lots of Spinach
Layer spinach and ham salad in a salad container. Finely dice carrots to put on top.
Pack hummus or pimento cheese.
Pack crackers for dipping.
Pack a fruit and yoghurt cup.
Pack a juice drink.
On-The-Go Foods at Amazon:
The 4 pack keeps walnuts fresher, as well as convenient.
Tips and Options Abound for Lunch Time Planning
One key to preserving the bagged greens (and other vegetables) for a few days is to be sure and press out all the air before resealing and putting them back in the fridge.
I like to keep a boiled egg in its shell until I am ready to use it, but I like to have most vegetables (especially carrots) peeled and ready to go.
Of course, you will have some items leftover that will store well for a new work week, such as the nuts and seasonings. Buying such items in bulk usually makes for quite a good savings.
Keep in mind that muffins are packable on-the-go food that you can fill with healthy, energy reviving goodness. Recipes abound, and here is one to get you started!
Freezing sliced deli meats that are on sale for every-other-week sandwiches is another savings to keep in mind. If you buy a larger amount, ask the deli employee to put the meat in 1/2 pound packages for your lunches.
Other options for takable lunches could be making your own frozen dinners a week at a time--just grab and go from your own freezer section! Some people who are on a beans and rice kick and they are able to make up a batch of dried beans and a variety of rices each week.
Chopping onions and seasonings into their beans and rice means that they draw a crowd around the microwave in their work places. People are asking what that wonderful smell is!
As with anything, developing your plan is the first step to success, but what ever you decide to eat, how ever you decide to prepare it, just make certain you are eating healthy as well as economically.
Oh, yes! Be sure to try new fruits and vegetables once in a while, particularly when they are in season. Surprise yourself by expanding your horizons while winning in this economy.
Lunch Box Lunch
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