Obviously, the cheapest lunches are those you bring from home. And by this I do not mean those you bring from home in a little cardboard box that you pulled out of the freezer.
When planning meals for the week**, it is always a good idea to plan things for most nights that are “leftover-able.” Typically, this includes meals that:
- make more than one serving for each person (and by this I mean more than the person will eat in a given sitting, not more than the recipe claims it will serve). This is especially difficult, as Spouse tends to eat a lot.
- make good leftovers. I refuse to eat reheated seafood. Salads also do not age well, unless you pack a separate container of lettuce and such before putting your dressing on. That said, usually by the next day I want something more substantial than a salad.
- fit in with your own personal quirks about what you will and will not eat again (see above re: seafood and salads).
I try to plan for meals that are substantial and will make for good meals as long as possible. In the winter, this includes a lot of stews, chilis, and soups. In summer, it’s pasta salads, quiches, beans dressed up in various gourmet costumes, and other culinary delights that usually make the most of the fresh produce.
Another tip for saving money on lunches is to work in a place that is surrounded by vast fields of emptiness in every direction, for about 20 minutes. If my work were not near a Noodles & Co., Chipotle, Jimmy John’s, or myriad other problem places, I would save a lot more money myself.
**What, you don’t plan meals for the week? That is the subject of another blog post for later. Suffice it to say you should be doing this. Just know going in that for one or two of the carefully planned nights, you WILL call your husband/wife and tell him/her that you want Chipotle instead, budget be damned. That is ok. It’s the other nights that make up for it.