Save More Money by Packing Meals for Lunch or School

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

In our daily lives, we try to make life easier on ourselves. These efforts can end up costing us a bunch of money. Far more than we really want to spend. When you order out or buy “from the machine” at work or school, you’re spending unnecessary money. You can easily prepare foods 3 to 5 days in advance, having them at the ready for when you need them, without spending as much.

I do this each week. I take one day to prepare meal components for the coming week. It doesn’t always take a full day, and I do use the slow cookers to make things easier.

NOTE: I eat a lot of salad, but it’s just me eating these salads. First I tried making them myself using heads of lettuce as the base, but each lettuce I tried would start turning yucky before I had a chance to eat it all. I would have to throw away lettuce each week. Then I tried the pre-packaged lettuce mixes, but within a couple days these too were going bad. Mainly, I now use prepared salads from Walmart. They are $2.98 each, and only contain the lettuce, a little meat, and a dressing I don’t eat. I add other vegetables to my meal myself.

Seriously, if anyone knows a more affordable way to do the salad thing let me know.

I’m open to suggestions on keeping salad greens fresh longer.

I would rather waste my money on these salads than on produce that ends up in the trash.

How do I go about preparing food in advance?

I do a number of things. You may choose different ways of doing this than me, or you might use one or more of my ideas. My hope is you’ll use these ideas to come up with a game plan that will work for you.

  1. I buy my salads for lunches, and dinners if I’m choosing to eat extra light that week.
  2. I decide on a topper or two for the salad. For instance, I might make a 3 meat chili for lunches. If I’m also going to enjoy salads for dinner, I will choose another topper such as chicken. These foods will go into the slow cooker.
  3. If I don’t choose salads for dinner, I decide on another slow cooker meal. Sometimes this will be a beef roast with white and sweet potatoes, and a carrot or two. Other times I might make a chicken soup, or taco meat. It really depends on my mood and budget. My favorite is corned beef, white and sweet potato, and squash. If I do this, I can have a salad with a topper a couple times, as well as a meal on a couple of other occasions.
  4. Then I decide on my other vegetables. I cut them up, and place them in pint size canning jars. Put the covers on and place them in the refrigerator. Some combinations might include 1) Carrot and celery sticks, 2)Broccoli and cauliflower, 3) Cucumber, zucchini, and summer squash.
  5. I’ll then decide if I want fruit with any of the meals I will pack. If so, I’ll make some homemade apple sauce, apple-pear sauce, or apple-peach sauce. Or have oranges and bananas available to grab. Another option is a fruit-based salad, such as an Easy Apple Tuna Salad or an Easy Melon and Strawberry Salad.
  6. Trail mixes are good as snacks while at work or school. There are so many ways to make them.

For instance:

Banana Chip Trail Mix

Candy Corn Trail Mix

Apricot Trail Mix

Holiday Trail Mix

With the above components, you’ll be able to make hearty meals for lunch and school. Or any time you need an on-the-go-meal. Enjoy coming up with your own meal versions as well, and share your favorites with us in the comments. Feel free to email me any time at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. And try one of my eCookBooks. They include some recipes that are no longer here on the blog. Main Meal Magic and Beverages on a Budget are good ones to start with.

Shannon

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Categories: Food Articles

Author:Shannon L. Buck

Hi all! My name is Shannon. I'm a single mother of two young adult daughters and a Memay to one precious Little Man. I work as a writer from my home in Orono, Maine, and as a Front Desk Agent at an inn in Bangor. Writing is my life, second only to my daughters and grandson. I enjoy writing nonfiction, as well as fiction in a number of genres.

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2 Comments on “Save More Money by Packing Meals for Lunch or School”

  1. Jenn W-M
    Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    I have to say I found your post inspiring. My husband and I are trying to be better lunch packers. We eat lunch together everyday and we are not the best at packing our lunches. My hubby HATES leftovers.

    I like the fact that you give yourself grace to buy the pre-packaged salads. We go through a lot of lettuce with our family of 7. I have heard about the salad in a canning jar though. I never have done it, but have read several happy reviews of people putting the salad in the canning jar and sealing it with the Food Saver attachment. If you do not have one of these then it really would not be worth the investment for just lettuce. I got one for Christmas, I use each month when breaking family size packages of meat and putting meals in the freezer. I might have to try it, but I love the idea of prepping the toppings for the week so atleast you know you have a variety.

    Thanks for the post!

    Like

    • Friday, March 7, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

      I do not have a food saver, so it would not likely be worth it for me. That would probably end up being all I would even use it for. A marvelous idea though!

      Like

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