Advertising
Advertising

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.

      Advertising

        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.

                Advertising

                  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.

                          Advertising

                            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.

                                    Advertising

                                      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

                                          More by this author

                                          20 Motivational Quotes of the Week to Brighten You Up 8 Things People With Hidden Depression Do 5 Essential Illustrated Guides For the Kitchen 20 Easy DIY Art Projects for Your Walls 20 Really Cool Google Features You Probably Don’t Know About

                                          Trending in Food and Drink

                                          1 25 Ideas for Delicious and Healthy Lunches You Can Take to Work 2 The Positive Impact That Drinking Healthy Tea Can Bring to Your Life 3 25 Easy Fast Healthy Dinner Recipes to Try (And Go Paleo) This Week 4 17 Power Pressure Cooker Recipes for Rushed Weeknight Meals 5 10 Surprising Benefits Of Dragon Fruit You Never Knew

                                          Read Next

                                          Advertising
                                          Advertising

                                          Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                                          How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                                          How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                                          Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

                                          If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

                                          1. Breathe

                                          The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

                                          • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
                                          • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
                                          • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

                                          Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

                                          2. Loosen up

                                          After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

                                          Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

                                          Advertising

                                          3. Chew slowly

                                          Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

                                          Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

                                          Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

                                          4. Let go

                                          Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

                                          The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

                                          It’s not. Promise.

                                          Advertising

                                          Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

                                          Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

                                          21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

                                          5. Enjoy the journey

                                          Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

                                          Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

                                          6. Look at the big picture

                                          The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

                                          Advertising

                                          Will this matter to me…

                                          • Next week?
                                          • Next month?
                                          • Next year?
                                          • In 10 years?

                                          Hint: No, it won’t.

                                          I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

                                          Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

                                          7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

                                          You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

                                          Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

                                          Advertising

                                          8. Practice patience every day

                                          Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

                                          • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
                                          • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
                                          • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

                                          Final thoughts

                                          Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

                                          Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

                                          Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

                                          Read Next