WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Frugal and portable lunch ideas needed

Posted October 21, 2010

We need your ideas! Anna posted on another thread that she needs some ideas for lunches for her husband. Here is her request.

"I would enjoy any ideas that you and/or your blog readers might have for thrifty/healthy lunches. My husband has been eating sandwiches for the last umpteen years and is sick of them! However, he is usually on the go and not near a microwave where he can warm up something. Lunch has to be kept in a cooler, easily accessible, and quick. I am really in need of some new and creative ideas in this area!"

I bet we could all use some ideas for frugal lunches that you can eat on the go. Here are a few things I prepare when on the go:

Bagel with cream cheese

Tortilla roll ups with herb cream cheese, turkey, spinach and tomato

Chicken salad with crackers (instead of sandwich)

Cold pizza (really it's good anytime of day, breakfast included lol)

Salad with grilled cubed chicken

Pita bread sandwiches (adds a little something different to the sandwich concept)

My girls actually like plain cold tofu cubed with soy sauce on it

So, what other ideas do you all have???



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  • Oxymoron02 Oct 23, 2010

    For creativity, consider getting into bento. Bento can be seriously addictive, which is one of the reasons I read bento blogs but don't actually do it myself yet (recognizing an easy addiction when I see it). While anything goes in a bento lunch, the only thing that is *generally* frowned upon is a sandwich (but hey, it's art so you can do as you wish). is a bento community I follow. Many posters have blogs of their own and the community as a whole has tons of bento resources.

  • kcampbell113 Oct 22, 2010

    There are some great ideas here. I take my lunch to work every day and while I do have access to a microwave I get tired of frozen dinners, etc. I'll have to try some of these.

  • elliesmom Oct 22, 2010

    These are great suggestions. Mine is to buy a good thermos. He can take hot chili, soup or other leftovers that need to be eaten hot. My daughter does not like sandwiches (this is a major understatement!) and having a thermos means she can have a hot lunch everyday (usually leftovers from the night before, which saves us some $$ and cuts down on the refrigerator chaos).

  • ncguy Oct 22, 2010

    Use lettuce as your wrap material.

    Tuna, chicken salad or ham n cheese etc..

  • sunnydaze Oct 22, 2010

    Larabars are great for on-the-go. Some have 6 grams of protein. Nuts and seeds have protein; sunflower seeds and peanuts are pretty high in protein--go well with any salad. Protein and vegetables build the body, and when you get enough protein, appetite is satisfied. Enzymes in fruit and veggies help digestion, particularly fresh papaya and pineapple.

  • j3434 Oct 22, 2010

    oh, another portable side...haven't had any in YEARS but good...peanuts or other nuts in the individual serving sizes or make them into individual serving sizes.

  • pirategirl12 Oct 21, 2010

    My fave lunch lately us sliced cukes (a little on the thick side), cherry or grape tomatoes, tiny cubes of cheese, and a little ranch dressing. Yum! I will sometimes throw in some fresh basil leaves.

  • jlamick86 Oct 21, 2010

    My husband and I like these Tex-Mex inspired dishes hot or cold.

    Tex-Mex Rice & Beans
    3 C rice cooked
    1 (small) can tomatoes/chilies, undrained
    1/3 C Fat Free sour cream
    1/2 C Cheddar cheese (shredded)
    1/2 C Mozzarella (shredded)
    1/4 C chili powder 1 can black beans drained & rinsed 1 can chili beans undrained salt, black pepper, bell peppers and onion to taste

    Combine all ingredients except one type of cheese and bake at 350 for 20 min. Top with remaining cheese and bake 10 mins or until cheese is melted. (Adapted from E-meals)

    Randall's Burrito 3 C rice cooked 2 large burrito shells or 4 small 1 lb Spicy Hilshire type sausage or 1 lb chopped taco seasoned chicken Shredded cheddar or mozzarella to taste ~1/4 for L shell

    Place ingredients in the shell and wrap in foil or wax paper.

    Taco seasoning (homemade) 1/4 C chili powder ~1 tsp Cayenne powder 4-6 lemon juice drops (optional) 1 tsp salt 1 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp garlic powder red pepper flakes to ta

  • lilypony Oct 21, 2010

    Homemade Lunchables are a huge hit here. I go to the deli and get the higher quality lunch meat sliced a bit thick and cut it up either with cookie cutters (and I take the scraps for my lunch) or just in simple squares. Also cut up cheese and to go with it. It's still a salt bomb, but at least you can get a brand with no/minimal preservatives and know it tastes good. It's much less expensive than real Lunchables and the best part is that you don't have to pack the candy and cookies that come with the real one. I'm a big meanie so milk gets packed with mine and the closest thing to dessert they'll ever see is fresh fruit.

    Oh, and the trick for kids to actually eat the fruit you send is to cut/peel beforehand. Anything that turns brown (apples, pears, etc.) just put in a bowl and toss with a splash of OJ, then drain off excess. The acid in the OJ prevents browning but tastes way better than lemon juice.

  • jrwachholz Oct 21, 2010

    Pasta salad with lots of chopped veggies and beans or meat chunks works well and is a one dish meal. Usually pretty easy to throw together too, boil pasta, add veggies and beans and bottled dressing.