There’s a house going up next door. This past Friday, after days of rain, one of the construction workers ate his lunch while sitting on a piece of plywood atop a stack of cinderblocks. His feet were in the mud, but his rear end and lunch were dry. Another man stood at the open tailgate of a crew cab pickup, his lunch spread out before him.
We all know if we’re on a budget we should take our lunch to work instead of eating out. Sure, packing a lunch can save money if the ingredients don’t cost more than the dollar menu at the fast food restaurant. There are delicious lunch box recipes on the Internet, but if you’re on a budget, you’re probably trying to avoid costly ingredients like goat cheese, black walnuts, and prosciutto. Other lunch ideas seem geared toward petite women with low caloric needs. In fact, I did a quick Internet search, and the first 9 out of 10 hits were “under 300” and “under 400” Calorie lunches. It doesn’t save money if you bring an inadequate lunch, get hungry an hour later, and end up popping coins into the nearest vending machine.
With budget and appetite in mind, here are 5 money-saving, man-sized lunches (or super active women-sized), each approximately 1000 Calories. Also, no microwave or fork required because sometimes a guy has to eat lunch while standing at the end of a pickup truck with his feet in the mud!
These are just ideas; you would have to adjust them for your particular health-related dietary concerns. For example, Dear Husband and I keep an eye on our sodium intake, so we purchase low-sodium varieties when available.
1. Roast beef sandwich (made with 3 oz roast beef, 1/2 cup giardiniera, and 2 oz mozzarella on the thickest, most dense bread you can find). I look for the almost-expired bread in the bakery for things like French bread. Giardiniera is super flavorful when you make it yourself, but if you’re not a cook, seek out the lower priced jars in the relish section because the cost of these pickled veggies varies a lot.
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts.
2 carrots cut into sticks.
16 oz bottle of unsweetened iced tea (or sweetened if you have to have something sweet).
2. Chicken salad sandwich (made with 3/4 cup diced chicken, 1/3 cup chopped granny smith apple, 1/4 cup raisins, dash of pepper, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder if you have it in the cupboard, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup diced sweet onion, 1/3 cup diced bell pepper, and enough full fat mayo to hold everything together on whatever bread is on sale). This recipe makes enough for tomorrow’s sandwich, too, and if you don’t have any leftover diced chicken from last night’s dinner, drain a 5 oz can of chicken and use that. The leftover apple and raisins are yummy in breakfast oatmeal.
12 slices pepperoni.
A navel orange or red grapefruit.
1 oz piece of string cheese.
Pint carton (16 oz) of whole milk (or chocolate milk for those who have a sweet tooth).
3. BLT with avocado (made with 3 or 4 slices of bacon, full fat mayo, half of an avocado, a seeded roma tomato, and iceberg lettuce on whatever bread is on sale). I save the rest of the avocado for the next day by leaving the skin on and placing it cut-side down into a small bowl of citrus juice. Right now there’s a half avocado in the fridge sitting in some orange juice. Seeding the tomato helps keep it from sogging up the bread.
2 cups grapes.
1/3 cup dry roasted edamame.
16 oz flavored bottled water.
4. Egg salad sandwich (made with two large boiled eggs plus other ingredients to taste: full fat mayo, mustard, pepper, chopped celery, and sliced green onion or pickle relish, on whatever bread is on sale).
1/3 cup of shelled sunflower seeds.
Ten black olives.
Pint carton (16 oz) of whole milk (or chocolate milk for the sweet tooths).
5. Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whatever vegan bread is on sale. Spread peanut butter on both slices of bread to seal in the banana slices and keep them from turning brown.
One package (two bars inside) Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, choose a variety without honey to remain strictly vegan.
1 1/2 cups total of carrot and celery sticks with cucumber slices.
10 black olives.
1.4 oz dark chocolate (the darker the better).
16 oz bottle of unsweetened iced tea (sweet tea if that’s your thing)
One more thing, if you plan out the week’s lunches, you can keep both budget and waste in control. For DH’s lunches this week, we knew a package of bacon would make four BLT’s. We did not want to buy a second package of bacon just to make a fifth lunch. So for Friday, we bought a 69-cent can of tuna to go with the leftover mayo, lettuce, and bread, no money or food wasted, yay!
Make this day even better. Consider:
• Gentlemen, know your jeans waist and length size in a brand that fits you. Then when your jeans start falling apart, you can be on the lookout at rummage sales. This doesn’t work so well for women because manufacturing variances from one lot to the next may mean, for example, a one inch difference in the rise, and that could be DISASTROUS to the fit! But on a man . . . well, your jeans seem to look good with all sorts of little variations in fit, which is totally no fair, darn it!