Brown Bag Lunches

by Tamara Wilhite

Making lunches in bulk often results in having the same thing for lunch all week. That's a good diet tip to control your appetite, but can wear out your palate by Friday, leading to a splurge at a vending machine. Or (gasp!) eating out to break the monotony.

We need balance between the efficiency of making lunches in bulk and our desire for variety. Otherwise, we'll end up with the brown bag blues, the thrill of the money saved by brown bagging it overwhelmed by every boring bite of your sandwich or salad.

Here are a few tips for preventing the brown bag blues.

  • When you have leftovers from dinner, especially when it isn't enough for a second dinner, put it in a small Tupperware container and pop in the freezer. It's an instant lunch different from those made earlier in the week.

  • When making sandwiches, add variety as you add the ingredients. Make PBJ with PB and three types of jelly. Make cold cut sandwiches, but add cheese to some and not others and different toppings to each. You've made each one different, but you're within the same budget.

  • When making pasta for brown bag lunches for the week, make the pasta, sauce, meat topping, and pull out a pack of shredded cheese. An easy break down for variety amongst these toppings are:

    • One a la dente
    • One with sauce only
    • One with meat only
    • One with cheese only
    • One with meat and sauce
    • One with cheese and sauce
    • One with meat, cheese, and sauce

Pick any 5 for variety without altering your ingredients.

  • When making rice and meat mixtures for brown bag lunches for the week, make the rice and meat mix together, and pull out a pack of shredded cheese. An easy break down for variety amongst these toppings are:

    • One a la dente
    • One with cheese only as a topper
    • One with a can of corn tossed in
    • One with a can of diced carrots mixed in
    • One with a can of green beans mixed in

Have an emergency stash in your desk consisting of pop-top canned pasta or soup and a Tupperware container. If you have forgotten your lunch, you still get to brown bag. This also works well as an emergency dinner if you end up having to work late.

I hope these ideas help keep the brown bag blues away at your brown bag luncheon.

Tamara Wilhite is the author of Humanity's Edge, available on

Take the Next Step:

  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Continue to look for new ways to trim food costs. Visit our food & groceries section each week to get tips for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
  • Check out some other great lunches to love.

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.

True or False

Food, gas and other prices keep rising while my family's income remains stagnant and I worry we are heading for debt trouble. Tell us: Yes, I think we are heading for debt trouble and could use some help! or No, we're not in debt trouble but I like finding new ways to help keep my family finances on track!

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to any newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

The Dollar Stretcher
Dollar Stretcher Parents
Dollar Stretcher Tips
The Computer Lady

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

TDS Pantry Challenge

Get Out of Debt