Today, Kylie will be sharing 10 easy take to lunch ideas. This topic is definitely relevant since I used to be bad about buying lunches and coffee instead of bringing them from home. That all changed when John and I got more serious about saving for a down payment on a house. Hopefully you can also pick up some creative ideas for the coming week. Take it away, Kylie!
Taking your lunch to work can save you a lot of money, not just the immediate monetary benefits but the long term health benefits are there too. Often we grab what is quick and cheap take away for lunch which is not usually healthy. By taking your lunch you know what you are eating and can purchase the ingredients for a week’s worth of lunches for much less than the cost of a week’s worth of take away lunches.
To make lunches easier you could spend a little time on a Sunday afternoon preparing lunches for the week that won’t go off or that can be frozen and defrosted over night for whichever day you choose.
1.) Salad – this doesn’t have to be lettuce, cheese and tomato. You can use cooked chicken breast, tuna or other meats mixed in with lettuce, grated carrot, cheese (try feta crumbled through), nuts, corn, avocado, anything you like.
2.) Pasta – Pasta cooked the night before provides so many options. You could add some salad dressing, cooked bacon, corn, diced capsicum and celery for a simple pasta salad or do various creamy versions such as carbonara or a mix in some sour cream, salami, sundried tomatoes and sweet chilli sauce for something different.
3.) Quiche – Quiches are easy to make, keep well in the fridge, can be frozen and eaten hot or cold! There are heaps of recipes, but they are basically pie crust filled with whisked eggs and your choice of filling such as bacon, mushroom and capsicum. Bake it, slice it up and portion it for lunches.
4.) Pie – You can buy premade pies or make your own with pretty much any filling. Even many main meals such as curry or leftover bolognaise can be put into pastry and baked for delicious pies. They don’t take long to make and they freeze well for later.
5.) Leftovers - A lot of evening meals can be bulked out or made double so there are left over to take to work.
6.) Wraps/sandwiches – Choose any filling such as salads and cold meats or just plain spreads. These are easy to make before work or can be made the night before and kept overnight.
7.) Soup – Even if you don’t have a microwave at work you could take soup in a thermos. A lot of soup is simply a matter of throwing in some vegetables with stock and sometimes meat or noodles. You can make soups thicker and chunkier to be more stew like than soup like for a heartier meal. Add a bread roll and it’s an easy meal. Many soups can be frozen making them a great meal to make ahead of time.
8.) Curry – Curries can be done quickly or overnight in a slow cooker and dished up before work. There are many meatless curry options which will save you more money. They are great with rice and it is up to you how hot you make it. They last well in the fridge or many can be frozen.
9.) Stir fry – Throw some meat and vegies in a hot wok or frying pan, toss to cook and serve with noodles or rice. There are a variety of sauces you can add when cooking or just add some soy sauce.
10.) Sushi rolls – Seaweed, rice and your selection of fillings make sushi a great one to make and take. It is eaten cold, can be prepared the night before and once you have the hang of it, you’re bound to love it.
If you want more than just a main meal there are many cheap snacks you can take with you to accompany lunch or for an afternoon snack.
- Popcorn: You can air pop it using ¼ cup of kernels in a brown paper bag. Place in a microwave for 2 – 3 minutes and eat. You can add salt or other flavourings if you like.
- Fruit such as apples, bananas, pears, berries, anything you like
- Vegetable sticks such as carrot, celery, broccoli florets, capsicum etc. You can add a small dip if you like or just eat raw.
- Baked goods such as cakes, slices, biscuits. There are lots of easy recipes which do not take long to bake and will produce enough for a few weeks worth of snacks if divided up. Most can be frozen in portions too.
- No bake slices or truffles are easy to make by mixing some ingredients together and leaving to set. Most no bake recipes are fool proof but sweet and tasty.
- Yoghurt comes in a variety of flavours and can be mixed with fruit or museli or a more filling snack.
Hopefully these ideas will help you save some money with lunches. Just think about what you like to eat for lunch when you buy it and find a recipe you can make yourself to take.
Thanks again, Kylie! I'm going to have to remember the quiche idea. Quiche is the perfect weekend brunch item that can be brought to work on Monday.
Kylie Ofiu is the author of 365 Ways To Make Money. She blogs at Kylie Ofiu.com about ways to make and save money as well as what she is doing to reach her goal of becoming a millionaire by April 2015. This guest post is part of a series she is doing called 31 Days of Money. You can find her on twitter and Facebook.