January is a lean, lean month. Thanks to Christmas I have no spare money anyway, and then coupled with that is the fact that we got paid slightly early in December (you know, for Christmas), which means it will have been a whole 5 weeks between pay cheques! It’s pretty tough going already and I’m only just past halfway there, so I’m trying to be very frugal at the moment. And as it’s no secret that buying your lunch everyday is an expensive thing to do, I’m trying to take my lunch to work every day. Even if I’m saving less than £5 a day, the pennies add up, people!
It’s actually quite hard to keep this up though. It needs quite a bit of planning, and (if you’re not going to get bored or get lunch envy) quite a bit of inspiration as well. Here’s my list of ideas, which should hopefully keep things varied for the rest of the month at least.
Leftovers are the key to this, and I’ve been very inspired by one of my colleagues who brings leftovers from the night before every day. She has something different and delicious every day! She plans it well of course, and makes sure she has an extra portion of every evening meal spare, which can then be her next lunch. This is ideal if you have access to a microwave, because then you can bring almost anything in! If not, you’re limited to meals that still work when cold. Here are some ideas:
- Pasta dishes (hot or cold)
- Stir fry
- Fajitas(!) – seriously my colleague actually did this one the other day!
- Roast dinner
Ah the classic lunchtime staple. This doesn’t have to be boring though if you mix up your ingredients. And a couple of ideas taken from more of my colleagues also involve leftovers (which is even more frugal!)
- Roast a chicken for your Sunday dinner, and then use the leftover cold cuts for sandwiches during the week
- If you buy packs of tortilla wraps to make fajitas, don’t feel pressured to finish them all in one meal or waste them – fill them with things like tuna salad for tasty lunchtime wraps
Salads are a nice healthy option, and buying whole vegetables in your weekly shop which will last the week is much cheaper than buying pre-packaged salads. It gets monotonous though, so keep things interesting with a good selection of veg and some extra ingredients for interest. Such as:
- Smoked mackerel and butterbean
- Greek, with feta cheese and olives
- New potatoes and hard boiled egg
And the rest:
- Sometimes I pick up yellow-stickered healthy option ready meals from the Supermarket for around £1. They’re close to the best before date, but they’re a good cheap option.
- I once took homemade fishcakes served with crunchy salad. Delicious but quite a lot of effort.
- I don’t love tinned soup, but there’s a place near my work that serves fresh soup for 90p, so if I take in my own slice of bread it’s still pretty frugal
- Take baked potatoes that can be heated up, and take your own fillings such as cottage cheese or leftover chilli
- Cereal! I always have a box of cereal in my work cupboard, and I then just need to pick up some milk for a quick and cheap lunch. I don’t do this too often though
An empty fridge is no good!
I hope you’re a little inspired, and if you have any more ideas please share them!