Ummm, I need to eat lunch…can someone help me?

April 27, 2009 · 7 comments

I’m gonna stray away from a finance post today and hopefully solicit some dialogue with you PF’ers. As I have mentioned in previous articles, I work part of my day at home and the the other part doing Special Agent things outside of my house. I am coming up on two years in my position and I still haven’t figured out a good lunch time option for me. Since I each day I am working at a different location, I don’t have the luxury of keeping my meal in the fridge. I go most days holding off on lunch until I arrive back to my house, sometime between 2 and 4 each day. I know that is terrible for my body, so I have tried experimenting with some mini-meals that could hold me over until I can get home to eat an actual meal. Sometimes I bring trail mix or other snacks to fight the hunger pangs, but I’m starting to get sick of it. I know I should be eating a healthy complete lunch each day around noon, but I just haven’t figured out how to accomplish that.

* gross confession: I went to Jack in the Box twice last week because I can get two chicken sandwiches for $2 and feel full…Gross? Yes, but more filling than trail mix and apples *

So here’s my problem…I refuse to eat at sit-down restaurants for lunch (I’m way to frugal for that ‘ish), but I definitely don’t want to find myself in the Jack in the Box anytime soon. I tried thinking about food that could be kept at room temperature, or warmer since I live in San Diego and my car gets pretty hot while it’s sitting in the sun, that would not only provide variety in my meal, but also taste good. PBJ, trail mix, an apple, are all great, but I’m looking for some variety.

I bet you PF Bloggers have some crazy cheap but crazy delicious lunch time meals that you whip up. If so, please share them with me. If you’re reading this, drop me a comment and tell me what you are going to eat for lunch today and how much you think it costs. I would love to compile that database and add it to my, currently pathetic, repertoire of lunch time meal options. If you got suggestions for me, remember I don’t have access to a refrigerator or microwave so S.O.L for anything requiring those.

In honor of the lunch hour, I think you should watch the peanut butter and jelly video found here .

{ 7 comments }

1 Donnie

Just pack a small cooler with the cold packs. Throw them in the freezer when you get home at night, put them back in in the morning. You can also put them in plastic bags so they don’t get all nasty if something leaks.

The stuff should still be cold by lunchtime.

You can put pretty much anything cold in there. Sandwiches, salads, pasta salad (yum). Any leftovers that you can eat cold would also lend to the cheap aspect.

2 Donnie

Also, I live 2 blocks from work, so I go home for lunch every day and have a delicious turkey and provolone sandwich with Sriracha, and a small salad or soup.

I think it costs around $4 each day.

I know you are jealous.

3 asgreen

Have you thought about investing in a cooler and some ice packs. This way you can leave you lunch in the car (though out of the sun) and you have more choices of what to bring.

4 Jesse

I have been in this same situation time and time again. I am not only frugal but I dont like to stop and take a break when I eat lunch, I like to chow on the move so even though I work at a desk now, I still pack something I can just whip out and eat at my desk. Or if I am unexpectedly on the road, I can whip it out then too.

You would be surprised what can keep for a few hours when dry such as a leftover turkey sandwich, without the mayo and other sauces. Some rice in a small container, white/brown/long grain/mixed rice.

Experiment with different things that you think may keep. Worse case scenario, you will end up waiting till two and make something else if your experiment doesn’t work out.

I have a fancy rice cooker that I can cook whole meals in. I will find a meal in my rice cooker cookbook, double the recipe and split the leftover meal into containers and take that for a few days. It keeps great in heat/room temperature and tastes great continually.

Pick up some real cheap gladware containers to help control portions as well as keep things fresh.

I have been doing this for about 5 years now, havent gotten food poisoning yet ;)

5 Nicole H.

I third the idea of getting a cooler with some ice packs. For ~$15 you can expand your lunch/snack options to anything that doesn’t need to be reheated. They’re not all super-frugal, but I usually eat one or more of the following things for lunch:

-string cheese (store brand)
-fruit (a banana, strawberries, an orange, and yes, the ubiquitous apple)
-hard-boiled eggs
-homemade pasta salad (mayo and non-mayo-based)
-bagels with cream cheese and jam
-hummus with pita bread
-leftover pizza

6 Punch Debt In The Face

Thanks all for your great suggestions. I guess I never really thought of investing in one of those ice packs and a lunch pale. I guess I’ll have to swing by Rite Aid or something and pick one up. My only fear, I’ll be too lazy to make good food to put inside of it. Nicole H….you wanna make my lunches for me, because your suggestions sound GREAT!

7 Jesse

You eat dinner right? Just make a slightly larger portion and pack it for the next days lunch. If you eat out, plan some leftovers from the meal. You can even have the restaurant prebox half of your meal.
Its amazing how well frugal and fit go hand in hand, controlling cost and portion intake.

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