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Lunch in a flash

Quick and Inexpensive Lunches to Go!

Cut up celery and carrots are great sides and can be cut up in large quantities to be easily added to any lunch

Many of us, especially after a household split, have less money to spend, and if kids are involved, spend more time taking care of the kids when they are in our care. Being able to quickly and inexpensively make lunches to go for work or school can make life much easier.

The default for lunches to go is often sandwiches.  Here are ideas you may like.

1.      A Jar Full of Salad

Green Salads

Pre chop fresh vegetables to include with your lettuce, such as peppers, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and broccoli. Make enough for multiple jars, or to use as sides in other quick lunches. Vary the ingredients to keep your lunches interesting and maybe use a different salad dressing each day. Add different cheeses, nuts, beans, meats or even substitute hard-boiled eggs to make your salads more filling and diverse. It’s perfect for using up leftovers. Fruits are great ingredients as well but should also be kept separate until you are ready to eat.

Lunch in a Mason Jar

Have a separate container for your salad dressing.  This will keep the ingredients from getting soggy.  If you don’t have access to a refrigerator to store the lunch, try vinegar-based salads. Crunchy toppers like croutons should be placed in a separate baggie to be added to the top.

Chicken or Tuna Salad

Make a big bowl of chicken or tuna salad. Then divide it up between small jars. Add crackers or chips and you have and easy, tasty and protein rich lunch. If you plan to take this in your lunchbox, be sure to include a knife or popsicle stick so you’ll have a way to spread the salad on your crackers. You can also wrap them up in lettuce for easy hand-held eating. Costco and other grocers have inexpensive already roasted whole chickens that can be used for dinner. Leftovers are great for chicken salad.

2.      Wraps

Wraps are much like sandwiches but use ingredients that might be too soggy for bread. Instead, we use tortillas.  There are many varieties to choose from.  Here are some of my favorite wraps.

Hummus and avocado. Start with your favorite hummus like roasted garlic, or tomato and add fresh veggies like tomato, avocado, and sprouts or lettuce for a yummy wrap.  Add chicken, chesses, turkey, or beef for added protein.

Ham and Cheese Wrap

A chicken Caesar salad wrap is another flavorful way to go. You can use your own or use bottled Caesar dressing.  Add chicken with lettuce and Parmesan to the wrap.  Simple and delicious.

Vegetarian black bean and rice makes a simple wrap.  You can also use pinto, or kidney beans. Flavor it with your favorite spices or hot sauce. Corn, lime juice, cilantro and cheese are great additions as well.  

Nut butters are great main ingredients in wraps.  Adding, sliced apples or bananas make for kid favorites.

Use your leftovers to create your own unique wraps. I love leftover chicken with either orange sauce or sweet chili sauce and cream cheese!  Amazingly good!

3.      Sandwiches are still good and don’t have to be boring.

Add spice to your turkey or chicken sandwich with creamy brie, cranberry mayo, and fresh spinach. Thick-sliced turkey and good bread, hoagie buns, or ciabatta rolls make them extra special.

…being able to quickly and inexpensively make lunches to go for work or school can make life much easier  

A special treat is a cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches. Use sliced cukes, cream cheese, and some fresh herbs.  These are traditionally served with the crusts cut off. Flavored cream cheeses are good choices, or whipped cream cheese.

If you have left over beef, make a quick beef and cheese sandwiche. Add some French Onion soup, to turn it into a French Dip.  Yum!

4.      Sides

Salads can have so many ingredients, that side aren’t always necessary. Wraps and sandwiches though seem incomplete without a nice, healthy side.

Snap Peas are a quick and easy addition and need only to be rinsed before adding.

Cut up celery and carrots are great sides and can be cut up in large quantities to be easily added to any lunch.

Whole apples, bananas, and berries are easy additions that pack a lot of nutrition.

If you are looking for nutrition and less fat than standard chips, consider popcorn, baked chips, quinoa chips, or dried fruit chips like banana.

5.      Leftovers

I’ve mentioned leftovers in every category, but easy “take them as they are” leftover staples are traditionally eaten hot, but for many adults and kids, cold might is better!

  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Pizza
  • Lasagna
  • Pad Thai
  • Frittatas
  • Meatloaf
  • Burritos

Summary

Lunches that are varied, easy to make and tasty to eat take the stress out of supplying lunch for ourselves and our kids! Share your favorites in the comment section or let us know if your enjoyed one of our suggestions.

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