Alright in this post I’ll look at what we typically eat for lunches (Also see Part I and Part II). I’ll be honest. Lunch is not an exciting meal in my house. I typically eat leftovers during the week at work and on the weekends we often keep lunch to leftovers or something easy like a soup and sandwich.
My wife on the other hand does do some cooking for lunch. She typically uses a few favorites from her daycare menu and what ever else she feels like. Some examples include: homemade mac and cheese, mini english muffin pizzas, pasta and sauce and tacos. Most of the items can be made in under an hour and preferably under half an hour.
We typically don’t like doing complex cooking for lunch. That is often saved for suppers instead. So we do try to make lunch a bit more enjoyable with some add on items like fresh fruit, fresh cut up vegetables, yogurt, snack foods ( peanuts, corn nuts and pumpkin seeds) and some small treat like a cookie or a pudding. The trick with the add on items is to keep them to a reasonable amount of prepackaged items. I usually try to keep mine to one prepackaged item per lunch. A pudding cup at $0.25 may sound cheap until you realize how much stuff you can buy at the bulk bins or fruit for that much money or that it would be five or more homemade cookies.
This also leans me to another key item in eating cheap: portion size. When you do cook make sure to make lots of food so you have leftovers, but at the same time keep the portion size on your plate small for meats and main courses (feel free to load up on the fruit and vegetables since they are cheap). Or with your lunch keep the amount of add on items small. For example, I typically only take about 1/4 cup of snack foods. I usually only eat it as a mid morning snack so I really don’t need anything large otherwise I won’t want to eat my lunch. Also take your time eating. Have lots of conversations while eating. Eating in my house has always been a social event. We eat together and often entertain with people coming over for a meal. You might be surprised on how small of a portion you really need if you give the food some time to actually hit your stomach.