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20 Frugal Bagged Lunch Ideas

20 Frugal Bagged Lunch Ideas

Brown-bagging your lunch is a great way to cut down on daily spending by avoiding the price of packaged or pre-assembled food items. It can even be eco-friendly if you use reusable containers and baggies. However, thinking up a variety of meal ideas can be difficult, discouraging, and you may wind up spending more preparing a packed lunch than if you had just bought it pre-packaged.

If this is you, bagged lunches aren’t saving you as much money — and still tasting good — as they should be. Frustrated brown-baggers, this one’s for you, and all those out there who’ve never tried switching to brown bag lunches because you don’t know where to begin. Here are some tasty and affordable ideas for how to rock your brown bag lunches:

1. Turkey sandwich wraps

Turkey lunch meat is typically inexpensive, and tastes great with a number of different cheeses.

    source: rockYOface via Flickr

    2. Chili (homemade or store-bought) & crackers

    Chili is relatively easy to make, even if you’re not an expert cook. It can be made in large batches which you can freeze and de-thaw later. Or you can go the canned route, and bring some crackers along for dipping.

      source: paul goyette via Flickr

      3. Hummus and veggie stuffed pita bread

      Pita bread is awesome because it’s already got a pocket so you don’t even have to put two pieces of bread together! Stuff some hummus and inexpensive veggies in there and you’ve got a quick pocket-o-sandwich.

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        source: roboppy via Flickr

        4. Ham & cheese on a croissant

        Ham & cheese is a classic and cheap combo, but you might get bored with it quickly. Pick up a bag of pre-made croissants at the grocery store, or another unusual bread if you fancy.

          source: Mon555 via Flickr

          5. PB&J, substitute the “P”

          There are all kinds of spreads that taste great with jelly/jam if you’re bored of this lunch staple. Sunflower seed, almond, and cashew butter are the most popular.

            source: mysoslife.com

            6. PB & honey sandwich

            However, if you love your butter with the peanut (as I do), substitute the jelly/jam instead. Honey and peanut butter make a delicious sandwich.

              source: jazzijava via Flickr

              7. PB & potato chip sandwich

              If you’ve never tried this childhood classic…well, don’t knock it ’til you try it! (I really really love peanut butter, if you can’t tell.)

                source: LinguistAtLarge via Wikipedia

                8. Scrambled egg “cupcakes”

                You’d have to make these before the morning-of, obviously, but these tiny pseudo-quiches are tasty and inexpensive. Here’s a recipe.

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                  source: chasingthefirefly.wordpress.com

                  9. Banana & peanut butter wraps

                  Turkey isn’t the only thing that tastes great in a tortilla! (Okay, I swear I’m done with peanut butter…)

                    source: vegancrunk.blogspot.com

                    10. Casseroles (any kind)

                    Another one you have to make in advance, but an evening spent making a casserole provides lunches for days. Plus, there are a plethora of casserole recipes available online, so you can change it up on a whim.

                      source: Julia Frost via Flickr

                      11. Baked beans & hot dogs

                      Chop up some hot dogs and throw them into a can of baked beans. Heat and enjoy.

                        source: servedupwithlove.blogspot.com

                        12. Homemade lentil stew

                        Bags of dried lentils are super cheap, and make a great stew with ham or ham bone, sausage, squash, and a variety of spices. Find some ideas for recipes here.

                          source: youasamachine via Flickr

                          13. Tuna sandwich with celery/cucumbers

                          Even a good tuna fish sandwich can get boring. Chopped celery or cucumbers make a great simple addition,  and add a dash of pepper to taste.

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                            source: David Lifson via Flickr

                            14. Pasta salad

                            Cook a big batch of pasta, then cool it in the fridge and add any veggies, cheese, and nuts you want. Here are some ideas for recipes, which you can tweak based on what’s more affordable at the grocery store.

                              source: Michael Verhoef via Flickr

                              15. Microwave-ready tortilla chips & cheese

                              Nacho purists will sniff their noses at this, but when you’re trying to save money, the microwave is your new best friend. Some shredded cheese over tortilla chips popped into the microwave is quick and inexpensive.

                                source: garlicmysoul.com

                                16. Baked potato & favorite toppings

                                Bake some potatoes the night before and pack one or two with classic toppings like sour cream, shredded cheese, and chives or onions.

                                  source: curryandcomfort.yummly.com

                                  17. Have fun in the canned soup aisle

                                  Who says soup in a can has to be boring? There are many flavors of soup and grocery stores often have specials on canned soup, so branch out and try some!

                                    source: NPR.org

                                    18. Buy “manager’s specials” from the bakery section

                                    They might not be called “manager’s specials” at your local grocery store, but there’s usually a section with discounted day-old baked goods that have nothing wrong with them other than not being freshly baked. Hit up this section to get bread for sandwiches and muffins for treats.

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                                      source: howtohaveitall.net

                                      19. Make extra when cooking dinner

                                      Make a couple extra burritos or burger patties for dinner, and take the extra(s) to lunch the next day.

                                        source: dimitridf via Flickr

                                        20. Upgrade your miscelleneous leftovers

                                        Ever used the leftover food from a big holiday to make sandwiches and pudding the day after? Keep that going all year ’round and make your lunch with leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. Salads, wraps, and sandwiches are all quick fixes for food that requires a little revamp.

                                          source: kthread via Flickr

                                          Featured photo credit: Untitled/Travelling Steve via flic.kr

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                                          Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                                          The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                          The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                          Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                                          your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                                            Why You Need a Vision

                                            Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                                            How to Create Your Life Vision

                                            Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                                            What Do You Want?

                                            The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                                            It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                                            Some tips to guide you:

                                            • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                                            • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                                            • Give yourself permission to dream.
                                            • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                                            • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                                            Some questions to start your exploration:

                                            • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                                            • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                                            • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                                            • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                                            • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                                            • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                                            • What qualities would you like to develop?
                                            • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                                            • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                                            • What would you most like to accomplish?
                                            • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                                            It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                                            What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                                            Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                                            A few prompts to get you started:

                                            • What will you have accomplished already?
                                            • How will you feel about yourself?
                                            • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                                            • What does your ideal day look like?
                                            • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                                            • What would you be doing?
                                            • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                                            • How are you dressed?
                                            • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                                            • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                                            • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                                            It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                                            Plan Backwards

                                            It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                                            • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                                            • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                                            • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                                            • What important actions would you have had to take?
                                            • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                                            • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                                            • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                                            • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                                            • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                                            Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                                            It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                                            Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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