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The Budget Smart Cook Loves Brown Bag Lunches

What’s an easy way to save money on food?
Take a brown bag lunch at work or school every day.

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from Joanne Lichten, Sunbelt Snacks’ registered dietitian and author of Dr. Jo’s How to Stay Healthy and Fit on the Road. Here’s what she had to say-
“We all know how easy it is to hit the local diner or even fast food spot for lunch…but then we did the math. A $6 lunch multiplied by a 5 days a week costs us $1,440 a year. That’s a house payment for many of us or a couple of car payments.”
The simple answer, brown bag it. And Lichten has some ideas that will not only save money, but save some calories too.

Thinly spread peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Sliced turkey or ham sandwich
Tuna sandwich
Fresh fruit: apples, bananas or pears.
Proportioned bag of baked chips.
Dried fruit or nuts.
Granola bar.

And Lichten adds that as our goal is to save money we should consider buying dried fruit at a superstore, and buy a jumbo size jar of nuts to scoop from each day. Also, opt for whole bags of apples and oranges. Buy granola bars in boxes.

I have to say we’re avid brown bag lunch fans in my household. Even if I’m going out and about for the day, I’ll take a packed lunch with me, rather than stop by a restaurant. Here are some tips I’ve gathered over the years.

Make up a batch of trail mix on Sunday. Store it in a container and buy some mini plastic containers and fill them up each day to slip into the school lunch box or bag.

Yogurt, don’t waste your money buying those individual pots of yogurt, buy a 32 oz. container and once again get some mini containers and fill them as needed. There’s no waste and no more half eaten yogurt making its way home.

Mix up a batch or fruit salad or a tossed salad, and place some in your lunch box each day.

Also, buy a large piece of cheese and cut it into cubes or ‘fingers’.

Think leftovers, burritos, even soup and chili in the winter.

Drinks-no individual juice boxes. Buy a plastic bottle and refill it with juice, use half juice, half water, or just plain water, or milk.

Let the kids pick from a healthful selection of foods what they want to go in their lunch box. If they think it’s their decision, there’s usually no waste and no swapping lunches with other kids.

Get Organized. Put together your brown bag lunch the night before. In the morning just pull it out of the fridge and off you go.

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