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.
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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.
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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.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.