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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 March 13, 2019

                                          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                          Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                                          You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                                          Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                                          1. Work on the small tasks.

                                          When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                                          Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                                          2. Take a break from your work desk.

                                          Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                                          Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                                          3. Upgrade yourself

                                          Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                                          The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                                          4. Talk to a friend.

                                          Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                                          Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                                          5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                                          If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                                          Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                                          Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                                          6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                                          If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                                          Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                                          Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                                          7. Read a book (or blog).

                                          The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                                          Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                                          Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                                          8. Have a quick nap.

                                          If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                                          9. Remember why you are doing this.

                                          Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                                          What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                                          10. Find some competition.

                                          Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                                          Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                                          11. Go exercise.

                                          Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                                          Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                                          As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                                          Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                                          12. Take a good break.

                                          Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                                          Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                                          Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                                          Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                                          More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                                          Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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