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One way that money slips through our fingers without our realizing it is by eating out at lunch every day.
Did you know that by taking your lunch 3 days a week instead of eating out, you could save as much as $800 a year? Think what you could do with that much extra money!
Your lunch doesn't have to be a sandwich and chips, either. With just a little bit of creativity and planning, brown bag lunches can be pretty delicious!
Try these ideas for starters:
Invest in a few of those 1-serving plastic storage containers with lids. These are so handy-when you have just one serving left of any dish at dinner, put it in one of these dishes. Designate a shelf in the fridge for these leftovers. In the mornings, anyone in the family can choose what to put in their lunch bag!
Those little containers can also be used to hold dip for carrot or celery sticks or fill with peanut butter and pack a zipper bag of pretzels for dipping. Maybe salsa for dipping tortilla chips (not so healthy, but really good!)
Or make your own pudding cups with your homemade pudding!
Fill tortillas or pita pockets with egg or tuna salad. Spread cream cheese on a tortilla, add a little salsa, and top with sliced turkey or ham. Place another tortilla on top, cut in fourths and put in zipper bag.
A good way to carry deviled eggs (that lunchbox staple)- after filling, put the two halves back together, and wrap in plastic wrap or put in a small container!
Muffins hold up well in a lunch bag or box, as do slices of banana nut bread, or most any other quick bread. Great for morning or afternoon breaks.
Of course, if your workplace has a microwave oven, (lucky you!) you can always bring leftover soup, stew or chili. A quick recipe for Chicken Corn Chowder:
1 pouch Chicken Noodle Soup Mix with diced chicken
2 1/4 cups milk
1 can cream-style corn
Combine all ingredients in saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until noodles are tender, stirring frequently, because it will stick!
Mix this up in the evening or on the weekend and store in serving-size containers. Just grab a container in the morning, along with some crackers, and you're good to go!
Try some of these ideas for your lunches this week and start saving some money! And at the same time, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you and/or your spouse will be having a more nutritious meal than you would get at a fast-food restaurant.
Cyndi Roberts is the editor of "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" bi-weekly newsletter, bringing you creative, practical tips to help you with budgeting, cooking, shopping, parenting and much more as you strive to "live the Good Life... on a budget". To subscribe visit the "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" website at http://www.cynroberts.com