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How to Pack Lunch for a Dollar a Day

Brown-bagging is one of the easiest ways to save money, especially if you stock several key items.


  • Step 1: Have breakfast for lunch Have a bowl of homemade oatmeal, a slice of whole wheat bread, and a piece of fruit. Or bring a couple of hard-boiled or deviled eggs. Who says lunch can't be breakfast food?
  • TIP: Buy fruits that are in season – and therefore less expensive – or on sale.
  • Step 2: Bring leftovers Dedicate one lunch per week to leftovers by making a little extra of a favorite dinner dish – one that transports easily and tastes just as good or even better reheated.
  • Step 3: Have homemade soup on hand Collect vegetable odds and ends until you have enough to make a vegetable soup. Freeze it in individual portions that you can take to work, along with bread.
  • Step 4: Go vegetarian Make a stew out of lentils, carrots, and sweet potatoes, three budget-friendly foods that are also really good for you.
  • Step 5: Have salmon cakes Mix canned salmon with an egg and whole oats to make fish cakes. Or use leftover mashed potatoes instead of oats. One can makes about four fried patties – more if you use more filler. Take one to work and freeze the rest for later lunches.
  • TIP: Canned salmon can be pricey; wait for it to go on sale and then stock up.
  • Step 6: Have a pasta day njoy a homemade pasta lunch once a week; it's cheap, versatile, and can be mixed with whatever you have on hand – cheese, veggies, leftover chicken, a small can of tuna – even peanut butter for a cold noodle dish.
  • FACT: Did you know? The average American spends $5.60 a day on lunch.

You Will Need

  • Slow-cooking oats
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Eggs
  • Seasonal fruits
  • Leftovers
  • Homemade soup
  • Lentils
  • Whole carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Canned salmon
  • Pasta
  • Mashed potatoes

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