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Bag lunch bargains?

Discussion in 'Food Forum' started by ChuteTheMall, Jun 7, 2004.

  1. ChuteTheMall

    ChuteTheMall Wallbuilder and Weapon Bearer

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    Aug 20, 2000
    Colluder in Cahoots
    Another beginner inquiry from someone who can't tell a capon from a crouton and still uses a P38 can opener in the kitchen.

    I want to save time & money & lose weight, and going out for fast food for lunch is holding me back on all three. I'd prefer to avoid coolers and refrigerators, but sometimes they would be available, as would occasional access to a microwave. Most of the time I would just want to reach into a desk drawer or into the back seat of my car and grab something ready to eat.

    Raisins, bananas, apples, granola bars, beef jerky, GORP are already being used, along with peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

    What else is out there? The next step may be little pull-top cans of fruit cocktail. I could save money by investing a little time in mixing my own fruit cups, without syrup, when refrigeration is available.

    What would you pack for lunch or picnics in hot weather?
  2. Penman

    Penman Goauche User

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    Feb 12, 2002
    At the slant board
    Cheese will keep long enough for lunch, and often goes well with fruit, or you can add a few crackers. Just don't get carried away on the amount. You could do a lunch meat wrap with lettuce instead of bread, hard boiled eggs would be okay also.

  3. Weaps

    Weaps Drives A Jeep

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    Aug 25, 2000
    Downingtown, PA, USA
    I determined awhile ago that eating out every day at $8 or so was bad both for budget and health. So I developed a menu of things which could be semi-prepared at home, assembled, and eaten at the office. I happen to have access to an office refrigerator and microwave very near my office, so this works out.

    Roast beef hoagie: I buy sliced roast beef at Sams Club, divide into individual sandwich packets/Glad wrap and freeze. All fixings for sandwich (roll, lettuce, sliced tomato, onion) go into tupperware/semi-disposable container along with any mustard, horseradish, etc. Sandwich assembly happens at my desk resulting in a healtheir, fresh lunch. Roast beef defrosts between the time I leave in the morning and lunchtime. Substitute healther meat (turkey, etc) if desired.

    Same thing with BLT's, which aren't quite as healthy, but fixings are pre-prepared similarly and assembled just prior to consuming.

    I cook a chicken breast on my grill the night before, cut up into cubes and refrigerated for a grilled chicken ceasar salad. Salad fixings pre-cut and transported in gladware tubs. Assembly at work consists of dumping salad and chicken into a bowl and add appropriate amount of dressing.

    I make up a big batch of spaghetti meatsauce one weekend, then freeze individual "MRE" type portions in gladware. If I'm going to have it the next day I'll boil up a batch of pasta the night before. All of that is defrosted/heated separately in the microwave just prior to consumption.

    Same thing with big batch of chili. Sourdough bread serves as a dipping medium if you like that kind of thing.

    As with sandwiches, substitute turkey or other meat for healthier fare.

    Tuna or chicken salad also prepares, refrigerates, transports, and assembles well also, so that's on the menu.

    I'll be experimenting with burritos as well, chicken microwaves pretty well as do beans. Keep salsa's/chili separate from warmed items and assemble just prior to consumption.

    The key for all of these items is to pre-prepare the day or night before and transport separately to assemble just prior to eating. That way you don't have soggy sandwich syndrome, or microwave heat things that shouldn't be heated, like lettuce, mayo, or mustards. I never heat beef in the microwave because that seems to add a bad taste to it. If I have, say, sliced london broil left over I'll take mashed potatos (made from scratch from Idaho russets, or paper potatos are almost as good if time doesn't permit) and microwave them. My grilled beef is just as good cold, but I can drape the slices on the spuds to get warmed up a bit.

    There are a remarkable number of tasty dishes that one can assemble at the office with just a little preparation prior. All of these ingredients can be stored, taken out of the fridge and thrown into an insulated lunch bag in the time it takes to say it. My co-workers marvel at how I can enjoy a fresh, non-soggy sandwich just as good or better than that they get from Wawa or Subway, and with the ingredients purchased from such places as Sams Club in bulk, I average at most $3.00/lunch if that. Oh, and bring your own Soda/Pop or juice.