Bag It!

by Amanda Formaro

You've probably heard this refrain a million times, but how often do you pay attention to it: bring a bag lunch! If you want to seriously cut back on cost of living, consider packing a lunch for work every day. Now, having been doing this for 5 years, I know at the end of the day that this feels like just one more chore to do, but the savings are incredible. And bag lunches don't need to be repetitive, dull or lots of work. Consider some of the following ideas:

Take leftovers. If there are leftovers in the fridge from previous nights' dinners, through one into a microwaveable dish and take it to the office.

Turn that ham/turkey/chicken/steak into a sandwich. Leftover roast waiting to go into a casserole (or how about leftover meatloaf)? Use some of it to make up a sandwich to take for lunch. For a little extra zip, throw a little bit of BBQ sauce on top of it.

Take crackers, cheese and sausage. I have a friend who used to routinely bring summer sausage and crackers for lunch. Quick, easy (don't forget the knife, or cut it ahead of time) and tasty.

Make a salad. Either take leftover salad from dinner or prepare a small salad the night before. Bring your choice of dressing, and throw some croutons or bacon bits in a baggie to top it off.

Buy variety packs of luncheon meat instead of a full pound of the same item. That way you can have a ham sandwich one day and a turkey sandwich the next (instead of ham all week long!).

Most take-out/fast food meals run a minimum of $3. For less than $1.50, I can put together a lunch with a sandwich, fruit, chips and soda -- and that includes the cost of the sandwich bags! Another thing you can do is buy a Rubbermaid juice container and take juice in your lunch instead of soda. Juice boxes can be too pricey, unless you get them on sale. You can either buy powdered juice crystals or jumbo jugs of juice.

So you can cut your lunch bills in half (or better!) just by bagging your lunch instead of buying. (One last hint: water is better for you and much cheaper than soda, so consider switching what you're drinking with your lunch!)

If you're a mom, you're always concerned about budgeting! Join The Frugal Mom each week for tips on great ways to save on everything from child-proofing to dinners. Ideas for saving in your home business to inexpensive dates with your husband. These tips are brought to you each week by The Family Corner Please join us!

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