7 Cheap and Easy Work Lunches You Can Bring From Home


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Along with skipping lattes, home-made lunches are one of the most often recommended ways to save. These delicious ideas will delight both budget and taste buds.

According to an Accounting Principals Workonomix Survey, two-thirds of employed Americans prefer to buy their lunch rather than make it, spending $2,000 on lunch per year, and the average working American also spends about $1,000 on coffee per year.  Add them together, and you’ve got enough for a deluxe vacation.

But it gets worse. If the numbers above aren’t enough incentive for DIY coffee and lunch, maybe this video from Money Talks founder Stacy Johnson will drive the point home. In it, he explains how eating out daily could set you back $200,000! Check it out, then read on for more…

Hopefully that video convinced you to stop wasting money on lunch and coffee. Now let’s get to some specifics that will help you do it.

The basics

When it comes to coffee, there’s no reason to pay 10 times the price of home-made. Even a child can make a good cup of coffee and the effort to bring it from home is minimal.

Preparing lunch isn’t as easy, but it’s certainly not rocket science. If spare time is tough to find on weekdays, consider packing five days’ worth of lunches on a Sunday night. Or cook extra food for dinner so you have leftovers for lunch – casseroles are a great way to do this.

If you absolutely hate packing lunches, buy low-sodium soup. Add some French bread, maybe a little cheese, and you’ve got a cheap, decent meal. If you’re willing to take just a little extra time to pack a lunch, however, here are some cheap, easy, and surprisingly delicious recipes worth trying:

1. Sesame bagel with mozzarella, red peppers, and parsley

Melt fresh mozzarella over a toasted sesame or other bagel, add red pepper pieces, and sprinkle parsley on top. Voila – lunch is ready!

2. Egg salad

Egg salad isn’t difficult to make. Start by hard-boiling the eggs (about eight of them) for 10 to 12 minutes. After you let them cool for a few minutes, peel and chop them. Mix the eggs with 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, a teaspoon of mustard, and 1/4 cup of green onion. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika to taste.

Egg salad is great on crackers, bread, and lettuce.

3. Avocado on toast

Considered a healthy source of fat, avocados are both tasty and filling. Plus, they’re cheap, especially if you can find them at a farmers market.

Simply cut up an avocado and spread it on bread or even a bagel.

4. Pizza pinwheels

Sprinkle mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and toppings of choice on a refrigerated pizza crust. Add basil, salt, garlic, and oregano for extra taste, then roll it up, cut into individual rolls, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees until crispy.

5. Home-made chicken noodle soup

Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large pot before adding 1/2 cup of onion and 1/2 cup of celery. Next, pour in four cans of chicken broth and one can of vegetable broth. Stir in 1/2 pound of chopped, cooked chicken breast, 1 and 1/2 cups of noodles (egg noodles are best), 1 cup of carrots, and a pinch of basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

A big pot of chicken noodle soup will last for several lunches. Consider freezing some of it as well.

6. Peanut butter banana wrap

This recipe (if you can even call it that) is super-simple and more filling than you’d expect. Simply spread a few tablespoons of peanut butter on a whole-wheat or multigrain wrap, add sliced banana pieces, and you’re done.

7. Cranberry almond tuna salad sandwich

This is tuna salad with a twist. You’ll need a can of tuna, 2 tablespoons of chopped red onion, 3 tablespoons of dried cranberries, 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds, and 2 to 3 tablespoons (or more) of mayonnaise. Mix in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy on fresh greens or whole-grain bread.

Those are just a few ideas, and I bet you’ve got your own. I told you mine – time to go to our Facebook page and tell me yours!  And don’t forget to check out some cool recipes with the links below.

Stacy Johnson

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Read Next: Ask Stacy: What’s the Best Way to Borrow?

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