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Brown Bag Lunches

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Brown Bag Lunches

Frugal Lunch Ideas

Brown Bag Blues

Brown Bag Lunches for Work

My husband and I are trying to pack our lunches for work rather than going out to eat, but I'm having some trouble coming up with food ideas. I have access to a microwave, but my husband is at a job where he doesn't know where he'll be that day, or if he'll be able to microwave food. This throws out a lot of foods since he can't microwave it so it's safe (like meats and such). I need some ideas/recipes for things that can be made and eaten cold, besides lunchmeat sandwiches and Greek salads. Thanks!

Brown Bag Family Recipe

My family has always made something we call "station meat." (The name comes from when Grandma would make it to send to the "station" with Grandpa.) When we purchase a beef roast, we buy one larger than what we need for a meal. When the leftovers are cool, grind the roast together with a raw onion, and a few dill pickles. Stir in enough Miracle Whip or Mayo to hold it together, and serve cold on bread for a sandwich or with crackers to scoop it with.

Soup Jar Lunch

For lunches when you cannot make it to the microwave, buy a couple of the soup jars or thermoses and use leftovers. Wal-Mart has the Campbell's wide mouthed soup jars. Warm leftovers in the morning and spoon into the jars. You may want more than one so you can have a complete meal.

Chop meat for one soup jar, veggies in another, and potatoes, rice, or your favorite side in another soup jar. Bring a little container for dessert and a cup with lid and spout filled with your favorite drink, juice or tea. Put the thermoses, containers, cup, and plastic ware or silverware in a tote bag and you're on your way to a good home cooked meal. It may be a little much to carry, but it beats waiting in line for a microwave.

Experts on Brown Bag Lunches

There are some interesting ideas for lunches at and The Brown Bag Lunch Cookbook by Miriam Jacobs is rated as a great cookbook for such a thing.

Quiche for Lunch

My husband and I take our lunch to work everyday and one thing that I make very often is quiche. If you purchase the Knorr Spring Vegetable soup mix, there is a very easy recipe on the side. Most people think of quiche as being served hot, but it tastes great cold. Then I usually take a side salad and an apple and I'm set. And real men do eat quiche!
A. Miller

Brown Bag Lunch Tricks

For lunches when you can't microwave, there are several tricks that I use.

Freezing: Freeze an entree in a single serving. (If liquid, remember to allow for expansion.) Place in a container that won't get soggy from condensation. Take out of the freezer just before leaving for work. By lunchtime, it will be thawed but still safe. Obviously, this works best with foods that taste good cold, and when your lunch isn't going to be subjected to broiling heat while thawing.

Vegetarian: Whole grain products combined with either legumes (beans) or dairy products yield protein just as complete as those in meat, and usually keep much better. Cheese muffins or whole wheat pita crisps with hummus dip are two possibilities here.

Nibbles: Take inspiration from Lunchables and similar prepared foods. A small jar of tomato paste, grated cheese, and a pita or two can make a good cold "pizza," for instance. Send along oregano, garlic powder, etc. so he can add extra seasoning. Old baby food and spice jars make good holders for the components. Most people think of combinations like cheese cubes, pretzels, summer sausage slices, and a mustard dip to be a snack, but it can be a filling lunch with the addition of fresh fruit.

A good wide-mouth thermos will let you safely serve stews and soups. Many workplaces have coffee makers even when they don't have microwaves, and you can get "hot pots" or "dip-in" heaters that will heat a cup or two of water quickly. Use these for single servings of dried soup or stew, or look for other offerings in camping and military surplus stores. You can also create your own "dried" recipes using broken up pasta and instant rice.
Kay from Ohio

Salads for Lunch

Try these two versions of a "taco" salad. They're great for using leftovers. The contents of each can be adjusted to suit almost any food plan, and it will still taste great. It is worth it to invest in those small plastic containers for the salad dressing.

Try it for dinner some night, putting all of the ingredients in individual bowls on the table. Let everyone build their own salad based on their tastes.

Southwest Chicken Salad

Mixed salad greens from a bag (1-2 cups)

1/2 to 1 cup frozen Southwest corn, black bean, pepper and onion mix, thawed
1/4 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup pico de gallo or salsa
1/2 to 1 cup shredded, cooked, cooled chicken flavored with chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped onion
Any other vegetables to your liking
2 Tbsp. Ranch dressing

Mix all ingredients except corn mixture, pico de gallo, and dressing in a plastic bowl with airtight cover. Toss at serving time with corn mixture, pico de gallo and dressing. All of this should keep in an insulated lunch bag until lunch without a problem. Include corn muffins, chips or rolls in the lunch bag, if desired.

Taco Salad

Mixed salad greens from a bag (1-2 cups)
Pinto or kidney beans (1/2 to 1 cup)
1/4 cup grated cheese
1/2 to 1 cup cooked, cooled ground beef flavored with chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper to taste (Add dashes of cinnamon or cloves for a change.)
1/4 cup chopped onion
Any other vegetables to your liking
1/4 to 1/2 cup crushed corn chips
2 Tbsp. California French

Mix all ingredients except chips, beans, and dressing in a plastic bowl with airtight cover. Toss at serving time with chips, beans and dressing. All of this should keep in an insulated lunch bag until lunch without a problem.

Not the Typical Lunch Bag Sandwich

My favorite sandwich is a nice crusty bread with brie cheese or some other soft cheese, walnuts, honey and apple slices. It is best to use a mandalin slicer to get slices thin. This sandwich has protein from the walnuts, calcium from the cheese, lots of vitamins from the apple and little touch of sweetness.

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