10 Tips for Making Cheap Lunches
By Scott Gamm
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Buying lunch on the go may be fast and easy, but it can also be a huge money waster for Americans on a budget. After all, in some cities buying a sandwich, drink and bag of chips can cost $12 or more, which can add up quickly week after week.
Preparing your own lunch is a great way to keep more money in your pocket, but what if you're not into cooking and the microwave is your go-to kitchen appliance? And do you really want to add another task to your day just to save a few dollars?
Luckily, there are ways to make your own lunch without putting a lot of effort into the preparation. Here are tips from celebrity chefs and food experts on how to create easy, tasty lunches for less than $10.
Stock up on lunch essentials
No need to make extra trips to your grocery store for your homemade lunches -- to save time, stock up on the lunch-making essentials during your usual weekly grocery store trip. This way, you're always prepared to whip up even the simplest dishes.
Chad Sarno, chef for Health Starts Here, Whole Foods Market 's healthy eating program, suggests having the following items in your refrigerator and cabinets at all times to make the perfect lunch:
Beans: Canned or dried beans are affordable and versatile.
Brown rice: It takes just a couple of minutes in the microwave to prepare before serving.
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews and toasted sunflowers with some dried fruit make a delicious and quick pick-me-up snack.
Whole-wheat wraps: They're healthier than regular wraps and you can fill them with anything you want.
Canned tomatoes : Combine with some caramelized onion, garlic, chili pepper and a handful of Italian herbs for a quick and cheap pasta sauce.
Veggies: Having fresh veggies on hand is a must when it's time to throw together a quick, easy and healthy meal. If you know you will not use them all, chop them up and freeze in plastic bags for later in the week. You can also buy frozen veggies for a great value.
"Tuna is a cheap and easy-to-make for lunch," Woroch says. "I recommend buying tuna in bulk from warehouse stores like Costco since there is no expiration date. Prices at grocery stores are expensive for brand-name tuna."
Woroch says you may want to add some veggies for flavor. "To keep the meal prep time down, prepare two or three cans and save the extra in a food storage container. The tuna salad should last a few days in the fridge."