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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
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
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.
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.
By Barbara Pope from Pittsburg, KS
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
Tips on school lunches from a pre-K teacher: Invest in cold packs. You can get these at dollar stores.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Making Lunch a Little Different. My DH brown bags his lunch. To make his sandwiches more interesting and to save time, I took three large frozen chicken tenders, greased them top and bottom with extra virgin olive oil. . .
Avoid Juice Box mix-ups by placing a different sticker on each child's juice box or juice bag. Everyone can pick their favorite sticker and no leftover juices!
Put tomatoes and lettuce in a separate container and place in your sandwich later to avoid mushy bread. Also, keep your mustard, etc. in the lounge kitchen (also to avoid mushy bread). By Crystal Podvin
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
I am looking for lunch ideas for hubby working on forestry gang. I have a tight budget, and he is sick of sandwiches. Any thoughts? Thank you.
My son takes pasta mixed with tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise for a change.
I get bored with lunch, I need thrifty ideas and variety.
Lucy from West Covina
I usually make a dish from my dinner the night before for my lunch and if this seems to be too much of a good thing, I pack up the same dinner and fridge it and then have it 2 days later for lunch,,,I always make too much for dinner anyway since all the kids moved away.
I pack lunch for work in the small square Ziploc or Gladware reusable containers. When I make my meals I always make enough for leftovers and I fill one or two little dishes for work each time I make dinner. I put them in the freezer and then heat them up at work in the microwave. I get a nice variety too!! If you like soups they also have containers with lids that don't pop off--they screw off. Even leftover pancakes and sausage can be frozen to eat later.
Best Wishes for Thrifty and Healthy Lunches!!
Peach in PA
Someone just posted the same thing a couple of days ago. You can probably find the info. in the archives.
Does anyone have any suggestions on what to pack for my ten kids' lunches? Two of them can't have anything with added sugar or food dyes and one of them can't drink normal milk and has to drink soy or almond and my oldest is allergic to mushrooms. What can I do? My kids are sick of the same old tuna fish sandwiches, with an apple, and a low fat sugar free juice and maybe some crackers. Suggestions?
By mc4lifes from Sydney, NSW