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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 November 19, 2019

                                          20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

                                          20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

                                          Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

                                          If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

                                          1. Create a Daily Plan

                                          Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

                                          2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

                                          Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

                                          3. Use a Calendar

                                          Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

                                          I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

                                          Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

                                          4. Use an Organizer

                                          An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

                                          These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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                                          5. Know Your Deadlines

                                          When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

                                          But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

                                          6. Learn to Say “No”

                                          Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

                                          Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

                                          7. Target to Be Early

                                          When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

                                          For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

                                          Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

                                          8. Time Box Your Activities

                                          This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

                                          You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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                                          9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

                                          Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

                                          10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

                                          Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

                                          You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

                                          11. Focus

                                          Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

                                          Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

                                          Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

                                          12. Block out Distractions

                                          What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

                                          I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

                                          When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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                                          Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

                                          13. Track Your Time Spent

                                          When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

                                          You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

                                          14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

                                          You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

                                          Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

                                          15. Prioritize

                                          Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

                                          Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

                                          16. Delegate

                                          If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

                                          When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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                                          17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

                                          For related work, batch them together.

                                          For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

                                          1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
                                          2. coaching
                                          3. workshop development
                                          4. business development
                                          5. administrative

                                          I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

                                          18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

                                          What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

                                          One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

                                          While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

                                          19. Cut off When You Need To

                                          The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

                                          Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

                                          20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

                                          Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

                                          More Time Management Techniques

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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