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Packed Lunch Tips and Tricks

The same sandwich can get boring. Being creative with packed lunches can help provide good nutrition and enjoyment. This guide is about packed lunch tips and tricks.
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February 15, 20119 found this helpful

When having a salad, put the dressing on only the portion served. The remaining salad can kept fresh by wrapping soda crackers in a paper towel and placing them in the bowl. Cling wrap the container to seal out the moisture. This trick will extend the life of the remaining salad.

By Dave from Oshawa, Ontario

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March 4, 20099 found this helpful

To save paper and money, I take my lunch to work every day in a cloth tote bag that I bought at the Dollar Store. It is about 10x10 inch square and has a nice handle. When I come home, I just put my lunch bag in the fridge so I can find it fast in the morning. I never run out of paper bags, I save money, and it's a good way to reduce waste.

By Laurie from Portland, OR

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February 4, 2011

Recently, at my work, I have been on a committee that is looking at strategic planning for the next year, 5 years, and 10 years into the future. One of the issues we have been looking at is sustainability. I have brought my lunch in a reusable lunch bag at least 4 days a week for years now and will continue to do that. I also bring a mug of hot tea with me as I walk to work on very cold mornings to keep me warm. We also recycle printing paper, newspaper, cardboard, and plastic bottles.

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Anyway, I had a lot of trouble coming up with how I could further contribute to sustainability in my workplace. Then, one day I was sitting and eating my lunch and looked at the plastic spoon I was using. We had plastic spoons on hand for eating our lunch, stirring our morning coffee, etc. I realized that if every single day, I were to bring my own spoon or fork for eating lunch with me to work, we could actually save money in our department's budget. If enough people in the department did it, we could save some serious money over a year. So, the next day, I started doing just that. Then, someone noticed and commented on it. I told them why I was bringing my own flatware. They thought it was such a good idea and started doing it, too. As far as I know, there are at least 4 people besides myself doing this now. I think it's a terrific idea.

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By Barbara Pope from Pittsburg, KS

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By 4 found this helpful
March 27, 2012

If you have a thermos, you have a very thrifty money-saver at your fingertips! Instead of spending money by eating at restaurants during trips, take your meals with you! Since we discovered this, we have invested in four thermos jars and almost always take hot meals with us on trips. We make frequent day trips (birding), and this has saved us a great deal of money because we are seldom tempted to eat out if we have a meal already waiting for us in our thermos jar.

A good quality, well-insulated thermos can keep food hot for hours. For use with food, you will need a thermos with a wider mouth than those which are used just for coffee. These are often sold in the sporting goods section of department stores as "insulated food jars" and they commonly come in two sizes, a small size which is perfect for an individual meal and a larger size which can hold a very ample meal for two or more people. Some popular and commonly available brands cost between $15 and $30 or so, but they will quickly pay for themselves if used even a small number of times. The cap doubles as a serving bowl, and one popular brand of small food jar comes with a nifty folding spoon which fits in the lid. A cheap plastic thermos is fine for holding food for a few hours, but for an extended trip the metal ones are best and they are also easiest to clean and less prone to leak. Pre-heating your thermos by adding hot water for several minutes before you add your food will extend its holding time considerably, as will adding your food while it is very hot.

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Often, when people think of a thermos, they think of soup. Yes, soup works perfectly in a thermos and I often take soup with us on outings, as well as chili or stew. But they are not just for soup! Consider using your thermos to carry a hot sandwich filling such as shredded barbecue meat or sloppy joes... bring along a pack of buns and you have your meal. Try using a thermos for hotdogs... either boiled hotdogs kept hot in their cooking water or cooked hotdogs suspended in hot chili. We have also used our thermos jars for spaghetti, ravioli, chicken and dumplings, Swedish meatballs, thin-sliced roast beef in au jus, skilled pasta meals such as Hamburger Helper, gumbo with rice, baked beans, small meat patties in gravy, little smokies in barbecue sauce and more. If the food has any sort of spoonable consistency to it, I will put it in a thermos jar.

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Once a week, my child and I attend a homeschool co-op group. We always bring our lunch, and we often bring it in our own individual thermos. But again, not just soup. I have taken some unusual things, such as beef ravioli in homemade alfredo sauce. Last week I brought blackened tilapia fish in cheesy grits. Even these meals which can often be tricky to keep at a proper consistency tend to do well in a good thermos. I will often use a thermos at home for keeping those 'tricky' foods like alfredo sauce or cheese dip at a just-right temperature until it is time to serve them, and I have also brought such foods to family gatherings in a thermos. Once, we were asked to bring a dish to a family breakfast and I came with the sausage milk gravy, ready to serve. Everyone was surprised when I set a thermos on the counter beside the biscuits!

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When we go tent camping, I will often cook meals in a Dutch oven. Leftovers go into a thermos while they're still very hot, and we can eat them later. Two of our large thermos jars will keep food steaming hot from supper time until lunch (or even later) the next day. This is great when your only other way to make a meal is to kindle a fire or charcoal! Cook once, eat twice, even when away from home.

Now that we have been using our insulated food jars in this way for several years, I can't imagine going back to just a baggie with a cold lunchmeat sandwich. And I also can't imagine what it would be like to spend money on fast food every trip!

Source: My own experimentation in an attempt to eat well and save money!

By Shawna from TN, USA

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Kelly Ann Butterbaugh3 found this helpful
April 28, 2009

The prices of school lunches, like most other things, are rising. Yet, parents need to question whether these lunches are providing their children with healthy lunch options and whether or not the lunches are worth the money.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 2, 2008

Tips on school lunches from a pre-K teacher: Invest in cold packs. You can get these at dollar stores. Paired with a thermal bag, the foods you send to school with your child will be protected.

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March 13, 2017

I take my lunch to work and have been buying tubs of Hillshire Farms lunch meat. Once the tub was emptied, I had a bright idea that it could store a sandwich instead of using a baggie. The sandwich fits perfectly and does not get crushed or moist from other contents in my lunch bucket.

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March 26, 20172 found this helpful

The small lemon shaped plastic juice containers can be reused for a small ice pack. This is a guide about using lemon juice containers as an ice pack.

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By 2 found this helpful
October 20, 2015

As hard as I looked, I couldn't find cold packs small enough to fit inside a lunch bag or lunch box. I finally picked up a few heart shaped baby teething rings and I keep them in the freezer. They're just small enough to keep in a lunch bag, but not so big that they take up all of the room.

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By 4 found this helpful
February 18, 2010

Many people already enjoy this food tip, I hope you will too! Some foods you can heat up and insulate in a Thermos (besides soup). I added more ideas to the magazine I found this in.

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By 1 found this helpful
June 26, 2009

I pack a lunchbox for my husband and have been having an issue with condensations. To solve this problem I am using kuzies. I have been saving kuzies from different promotions around town that are giving them away free.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 22, 2009

My husband puts my 6 or 8 oz. yogurt cup in a coolie cup which is normally used for cans or bottles. It fits right into the cup, and makes a handy way to keep it chilled until lunch.

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November 21, 20040 found this helpful

I am always looking for ideas for my kids lunches since they don't like to eat at school. When I go to various restaurants to eat we usually have leftover "ranch" of any dipping containers.

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By 2 found this helpful
November 14, 2011

Save Naked or Odwalla juice bottles and fill with water and freeze. These are just the right size for a child's lunch box. When they thaw, you can have cold water to drink. These are also useful for placing in a larger cooler.

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January 11, 20050 found this helpful

My daughter has an old-fashioned type lunch box with a thermos. Putting in one of those hard ice substitutes took up too much room, so instead I use frozen bread to make her sandwich. The bread thaws in time for lunch while keeping the lunch meat cold enough to prevent bacteria from forming.

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By 1 found this helpful
August 15, 2015

If you take your lunch to work, put in a pocket-sized hand sanitizer. It's great if you can't wash up before lunch.

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February 11, 2015

I make my lunch the night before I have classes each day. Usually I bring for lunch whatever I have leftover from my dinner. If it doesn't sound appealing, I use Pita bread pockets cut in four quarters and get inventive.

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September 11, 20080 found this helpful

Freeze a week's worth of lunchmeat sandwiches for your children on Sunday night. Place in ziplock bags or plastic sandwich containers. Freeze and take out the next day right before your children leave for school. Pack in lunches.

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March 19, 20050 found this helpful

put plastic cutlery in my husband's lunches for work. After him losing a couple of my "good" forks on the job site, he's gotten plastic ever since. Those I don't care if he loses.

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January 9, 20050 found this helpful

To save time in the mornings, make sandwiches and freeze them on the weekend. The sandwich turns out best if you start with frozen bread. Make the sandwich on the frozen bread, then pop it back into the freezer again.

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November 13, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about using a school lunch chart. This school lunch chart is a great tool to help make it easier to prepare your kids' lunch throughout the week. Each child picks their meals for the week, allowing you to prep ahead, and know what they are taking each day.

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January 25, 20050 found this helpful

I buy canned fruit & spoon into small bowls with lids (allow room for the food expanding when freezing) for my husband's lunches. Frozen cups of canned fruits and frozen sandwiches will be thawed in time for my husband's lunches. He works construction.

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December 16, 20040 found this helpful

When I pack lunch for my school age children, I pack one for my younger child as well that way he gets a kick out of using his lunch box and we have lunch prepared if we are on the go at lunchtime.

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December 9, 20040 found this helpful

Slip "I love you" notes into lunches, pockets, or between pages of school books for your children or spouse. Costs nothing but means everything! But be careful!

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August 30, 20040 found this helpful

I live too far away from work to go home to eat and I can't afford $3-$4 per day that it takes to go to fast food restaurants. Since I live alone, I only cook 1 day a week, usually on Sunday afternoons.

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July 21, 20140 found this helpful

This is a guide about packing salad for lunch. Many delicious combinations of vegetables, fruits, cheeses and/or meats can create a fresh healthy lunch.

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March 22, 20130 found this helpful

A great way to take a salad to work for lunch is to put all of the ingredients in a reusable glass jar. This guide contains mason jar salad ideas.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 9, 2010

This is a tip that will help anyone who packs lunches! These days, we all need to tighten our belts and packing lunches is an excellent way to not only save money, but also to eat healthier!

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