Organizing to save money: 5 simple pack-your-own lunches

On Monday I began commuting into New York City for work. It’s a pretty drastic change as I now need to leave my house a good hour earlier than normal. Yesterday in my rush to make the train, I didn’t get a chance to pack anything to eat for lunch.

Around noon, I headed out onto the lovely SoHo streets looking for a little grub. I popped into Gourmet Garage and grabbed an apple, some chicken noodle soup and a bottle of water. I almost choked at the cash register when the smiling woman said, “That’ll be $8.55.”

Seriously? Yep. She was serious.

Insanity. A $10 a day lunch habit, 5 days a week, adds up to roughly $2,500 a year. I can think of a lot better things to do with that kind of cash than blow it on over-priced lunches that will do nothing but pad my already well-padded mid-setion.

As I slapped together a boring turkey sandwich on whole wheat this morning, threw some chopped celery and an apple in a bag, I knew I needed to figure out some more exciting lunch box options for myself.

Fortunately it was pretty easy to find lots of yummy – and relatively easy-looking options, thanks to Pinterest. And since I’m in a sharing kind of mood, I thought you might like to see what made it onto my short list.

Arugula & Apple Salad Wrap

Salads are such a wonderful summer lunch – the only problem is their portability…or lack thereof. A smart way around that: wrap a salad up in a flour tortilla and it’s good to go. This delicious apple arugula salad wrap looks divine, doesn’t it? {image & recipe via: Kitchn}

California Dreamin’

Since it’s summer, I’m always looking for delicious ways to use the ripe tomatoes growing on my deck “garden.” And I have to say, my mouth is watering just looking at this recipe. I think I may have to make this for tomorrow’s lunch. {image & recipe via: Ezra Pound Cake}

Veggie Frittata Bento

Frittatas have saved my dinner-cooking behind at the eleventh hour more times than I can count. They are so easy to make and very flexible – you can throw anything in it, from veggies to meats and cheese. And best of all, it’s good hot or cold – sort of like pizza. Make one for dinner and the next day, take a wedge to work in a Bento box along with a couple slices of fruit. {image & recipe via: Family Fresh Cooking}

Curried Chicken Pita Pockets

Pita pockets are an ideal lunch box item regardless of what you put in them. But I thought this curried chicken recipe sounded lovely. Since most people make chicken at least once or twice a week, it should be easy enough to cook an extra chicken breast that you keep handy for recipes just like this one. {image & recipe via: Eating Well}

Mini Bagel Bento

As a little girl my mom would occasionally make cinnamon raisin bread with cream cheese for our lunches. How I loved opening my bag those days! This is a slightly more modern twist on that old favorite. I love the mini-bagel as a way to keep the portion size in control and the added protein punch the egg packs. {image & recipe via: Eclectic Chica}

How about you? Do you pack a lunch for yourself every day? If so, what’s your favorite thing to pack?