I have found that being frugal with my meals doesn't mean that I have to eat the same old thing every day for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner! Life would be rather boring if that was the case! For me being frugal with meals means using up leftovers or making from scratch instead of buying convenience or challenging myself to use what I have on hand. Each of these ways is helping me to be frugal and at the same time not be bored with what I am eating.
In an effort to know what I need to have on hand and to streamline menu planning. I have taken the time over the last week to make up lists of meals that I use on a consistent basis. Other than the typical leftovers from dinner or that kid-friendly peanut butter and jelly sandwich, here is a list of lunch ideas that I have done for my family....
Fried egg sandwiches
Mini homemade pizzas
Egg salad sandwiches
Chicken/Tuna salad sandwiches
Homemade pita bread stuffed with any number of things (esp. homemade chicken salad! Yum!)
Salad with grilled chicken
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Chili beans, toss some cheese, salsa and tortilla chips and you got nachos
Make up a bunch of meatballs and freeze. Get some hoagie rolls and spaghetti sauce and make meatball subs.
Make up a bunch of spaghetti and let them have at it.
Salad with a bit of chicken chunks and boiled eggs
Homemade tortillas throw in some chili
Leftover pasta with whatever. I've thrown leftover pasta and chicken together. Add chopped veggies or have them on the side, drizzle with a vinagriette.
Veggie Chicken noodle soup(leftover chicken and veggies with pasta and broth)
French toast and fruit
Pancakes and fruit
Bean and cheese burritos
Chicken quesadillas(cut up leftover chicken, add salsa or taco sauce to it, put on one side of a tortilla shell top with cheese, fold over tortilla shell, melt some butter or use olive oil in a hot skillet then put quesadilla in the skillet and lightly brown both sides)
Baked potatoes with leftover chili or taco meat
I hope that this inspires you to think outside that same old lunchbox and try something different for a change!
**updated to answer questions left in the comments "Do you pack it the night before or the day of? How do you keep it fresh like Grilled Cheese or Mini Pizza?" Answer: Since I homeschool, I only have to worry about packing hubby's lunch right now. :) However, should I get into a position where I am having to make "bag lunches" for my kids to take to school. Most of the items, I can make a day ahead. For the egg/chicken/tuna salad sandwiches, I would make the filling and put into a small container and then put the bread in a separate baggie and make sure that I included a plastic fork or spoon for them to make their own sandwich at lunch time so the bread doesn't get soggy. I just wrap most of my sandwiches, mini pizzas, or wraps in plastic wrap or put in a plastic baggie and stick in the fridge til I pack the lunch. Then I also have small little blue ice packs that I put in my hubby's lunch every day to keep the food cold and fresh.**
For other frugal tips, ideas, or resources, head over to Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood!