Brown-Bag It and Save Big

ShopSmart shares tips on how to bring brown-bagged lunch to work and save big!

Eat Smart

Brown-Bag It and Save Big

What to pack…


shopsmart lunch ideasBrown-bagging your own lunches can save you hundreds of dollars a year. ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports has ideas and tips to pack a delicious, economical lunch.

7 Packables You Might Not Think to Tote:

Breakfast for Lunch. Frittatas are great served cold or warm, so pack a slice or two, or include a piece of quiche.

Leafless Salads. A mix of chopped raw vegetables in vinaigrette – black beans, corn, diced red peppers and chopped scallions – makes a filling, healthful and inexpensive salad.

Portable Pasta. Try whole grain pasta with vinaigrette and canned salmon or store-bought meatballs. For the carb-watchers, use spaghetti squash, orzo or brown rice.

Antipasto and Dips. Small bites can be as satisfying as a big sandwich, so pack mozzarella cubes, olives, deviled eggs, salami or roasted almonds.

Sandwich Substitutes. Pack wedges of good, flavorful cheese, a crusty whole-grain roll and some grapes or veggies. Try chicken or egg salad in a hollowed-out tomato or baked zucchini halves scooped out and filled with chili or other stuffings.

Hot and Hearty Fare. Take homemade, canned or store-bought soup in a wide-mouth thermos. Leftover stews, stir-fries and casseroles stay hot and pack well too.

Chip Alternatives. Popcorn or healthy edamame beans are much cheaper than chips from the store. Boiled green soybeans also make for a great late-afternoon pick-me-up.

Additionally, here are some of ShopSmart‘s Brown-bag Dos and Don’ts:

DO stick to combos that pack well. Use tortillas to wrap sandwiches that don’t stick together.

DON’T get stuck in a rut. Try packing frozen fruit like peaches or raspberries, which will thaw by midday. Instead of the usual vegetables, consider radishes, jicama spears or sugar snap peas.

DO avoid soggy salads and sandwiches. Pack greens separately from the dressing and skip watery tomato slices. Instead, try thin slices of zucchini, cucumber or mild daikon radish which stay crisp for hours.

DO spice it up. Pack extra seasoning in a plastic bag to add to leftovers – hot sauce in particular wakes up other flavors.

DO invest in the right containers. Good containers should be seal-tight and microwaveable. Avoid plastics marked with recycling codes 3, 6 and 7 which could potentially contain harmful chemicals.

DON’T forget a drink. In summer, brew your own tea or coffee at home. In cold weather, bring your own cocoa, coffee or tea bags and just add hot water.

DO keep smelly stuff at home or under tight wraps. Avoid fishy or garlicky leftovers and skip the stinky stuff if you aren’t eating outdoors.

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