Friday, June 5, 2009

Do more with less: Bringing your lunch to work

We're always looking for ways to save money; bringing your own lunch to the office can save you a bundle, even taking into consideration the fact that you'll be buying more groceries. You'll save even more if you learn to love leftovers.

Steak and Bleu salad: Fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, and thin slivers of leftover london broil, pot roast, or even shredded roast beef from the deli. Fill a small container with bleu cheese dressing and drizzle it over the salad just before you eat it. (Don’t have any small jars? A zip-top plastic bag can keep the dressing contained; to drizzle, snip of part of one corner with scissors and squeeze like a pastry bag.)

Chips and dip: Believe it or not, low-salt tortilla chips, a small bowl of refried beans, and a small bowl of guacamole can be a perfectly healthy (and filling) lunch. Make your own beans, or choose a premade version without lard to keep the fat content low.

Deconstructed sandwich: The thing I dislike about sandwiches that they always fall apart when I try to take a bite — usually spilling something ugly onto my shirt or jacket. Packing the components seperately can mitigate the mess, and it tastes as a good. My current favorite: smoked turkey, thinly sliced Granny Smith apple, cheddar cheese, and marble rye bread.

Bag o’ snacks. Sometime, I don’t even have time for lunch, but its easy to keep hunger at bay if I graze throughout the day. Apple slices, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, carrot sticks, celery sticks, whole-grain crackers, and some low-fat string
cheese fit the bill. Too much like what’s in your child’s lunchbox? Think “appetizers” instead of snacks, and pack frozen potstickers (Trader Joe’s has some good ones), breadsticks wrapped with ham, cubes of cheese, and slices of bell pepper with dressing as a dip.

Fried rice. Transform leftovers at home into fried rice and bring it to work. It’s easy: Leftover rice + slivers of leftover chicken or a quickly scrambled egg + the odds and ends of leftover veggies + soy sauce + sesame oil. Heat in a pan — or, if you’re really out of time, in the microwave at work.

Be sure to click over to The 36-Hour Day to read the comments; people are offering up some great ideas, many of which I'll definitely be trying out!

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