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Brown Bag Lunches

When you take your lunch to work, saving money is in the bag.

Sack lunches are a simple, satisfying way to save a few dollars every day--and a great way to eat better, too! Here are some quick tips and easy recipes for bringing your own.

Meatball Sandwiches

For dinner, make a humongous dish of meatballs and red sauce. Enjoy a tasty spaghetti-and-meatballs meal and save the rest for meatball sandwiches during the work week. That's a twofer, Italian-American style!


Pastas and casseroles travel well. Just portion them out into reusable containers and they're ready to roll. Here are some of our most popular casserole collections.


Sandwiches are the usual suspects of the brown-bag lunch. But that doesn't mean they have to be boring. To reinvigorate the genre, slice up some leftover meatloaf for a sandwich or reserve the breast meat of a roast chicken and turn it into a quick chicken salad. Here are a handful of ideas.


Perfect for packing soups to work, the thermos somehow always gets it right--it keeps the hot, hot; the cold, cold. And like the old joke says, it never confuses the two. Allrecipes has a serious selection of hearty soup recipes, with plenty of choices to suit any season.

Aug. 18, 2009 9:02 am
I think this is a great idea.
Aug. 19, 2009 2:37 am
These are good ideas, though they are the well-known. Its nice to have a reminders sometimes of what we already know.
Aug. 19, 2009 10:46 am
Here's an idea!.....if you have another foodie you work with..maybe you could swap leftovers from the night before...who knows maybe you'll find some new recipes!
Aug. 19, 2009 3:31 pm
A lot of these ideas need warming to be good. Always looking for more cold, no-heat up options. My timesaver - pack the week's worth at one time, sandwich parts seperate.
Aug. 19, 2009 7:01 pm
Well I usually have no issue with heating food up. Microwaves are pretty standard at even the most unsuspecting jobs. My foodsaver is my best friend, lol. Cook for a whole week, sometimes even the month, put it in the freezer, take it to work, heat it up and enjoy. I use tupperware plates to both freeze and re-heat my food while in the foodsaver bags. Its a routine I've become pretty comfortable with.
Aug. 20, 2009 6:25 am
thanks for the idea, blessed. I have a foosaver but never thought of food saviung the plate as well!
Aug. 20, 2009 7:24 am
Pretty basic ideas here, but still, there are some good ones! I am packing my kids' school lunches, so microwave foods are not an option. Soups, casseroles, etc can be put in a small thermos that has first been heated, and it will stay hot until lunch. Another idea is hot dogs. Pack hot dogs in hot water or hot chili in a thermos. Put the bun in the bag, and the child can take the hot dog or chili dog out at lunch.
Aug. 20, 2009 12:28 pm
I would be really interested in unusual packable meals.. almost like a bento sort of thing. I'm also always interested in really healthy foods for work.
Aug. 21, 2009 8:28 am
Okay here's one for your kids' thermos. Use left over sloppy joes or chili (in a pinch I'll use hormel turkey chili), mix with a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup (do not add milk). Divide by three to four portions, Heat in thermos and sent with tortilla chips. Protein, carbs, now they need an apple and viola. If the chili/sloppy joe haven't been frozen yet you can mix this and freeze in individual servings for a quick morning heat up.
Aug. 22, 2009 3:39 pm
one of my favorite sandwiches is cream and jelly on whole wheat bread.
Aug. 23, 2009 8:24 am
Any quick and easy ideas for a 7 yr old that doesn't eat bread? He is unable to heat anything up at the school.
Amy C. 
Aug. 23, 2009 8:32 am
We had NO money growing up and I packed my lunch every day. One thing that my friends envyed was the hot dog. My mother would put boiling water in a thermos and a hot dog. Pack a bun. This was first grade and I am 46. I still remember.
Aug. 23, 2009 4:29 pm
for the child who doesn't eat bread--cheese and lunchmeat cut into cubes, then spread over thin green apple slices. Sounds a little strange, but my kids love it.
Aug. 27, 2009 5:53 am
For LReed - I had a "no bread" child, also. He loves deli sliced turkey, so I would take some slices and roll them up, fastening with a toothpick. He would sometimes want American cheese rolled inside, too. Makes a healthy lunch with a fruit and chips added.
Sep. 7, 2009 8:11 am
How about using lettuce to wrap up your meats and cheeses instead of bread, a local food place does that, and they call it lettuce wraps. Or how about crackers with the meat and cheese, or peanut butter on crackers. you can always have tuna, or chicken salad on crackers as well
P. Russell 
Sep. 8, 2009 8:09 pm
i need something that's quick and easy and doesn't require a microwave. i can do thermoses, but something new would be nice too.
Sep. 16, 2009 5:49 am
some of the stuff on here is so delicious. The meatball recipe looks amazing but I need to watch my calories so that 6hundred something calories per serving doesn't help me a lot.
Sep. 20, 2009 3:53 pm
my fiance packs my lunch every day... One of my favs is leftover salad... whatever meat we had the day before, put into a chopped salad. Best was flank steak with honey mustard vinagrette... sounds odd, but VERY filling and I hate salad and can say I loved every bite!
Sep. 23, 2009 10:54 pm
One of my, & my sons, favorites is tortilla rolls with whatever leftover protein from dinner the night before. Super easy, good for you, and filling! Example: Mon night I roasted a chicken. I cleaned most of the meat off (need the carcus for soup!). Spead cream cheese on a wheat tortilla, sprinkle a touch od dry ranch or Italian dressing, add shredded chicken, then whatever veggies on hand. We like it with cucumbers, spinach, tomatoes, raw zuccini, & bell peppers. Yum! Even do this with left over salmon (use dill instead of dressing). Always a hit!!
Sep. 25, 2009 7:33 pm
I must have led a sheltered life as I have not heard of some of these ideas. I have a two year old and he is becoming board with the pb and jelly / grilled cheese stand by's. Thanks for the ideas.
Mar. 5, 2010 2:07 pm
Tyra, Like your idea of making a totilla wrap with left over protine. I have to try this a see how my kids (5 & 2 year olds) will like it. Thank you for wonderful tips.
Apr. 19, 2010 10:02 am
yeah, i was looking for something exciting to bring instead of eating out every day. from some other websites, i've found: cold pasta salads with veggies and protein, taco salad (chili on teh side), chicken caesar pita, fried rice, lettuce wraps, turkey wraps (cream cheese, turkey, lettuce tomato in a tortilla)... thought i'd share.
Jul. 28, 2010 1:35 pm
I sometimes freeze lunchmeat and cheese sandwiches for the week. They are thawed and still cold by lunch time. I also pre-bag non-perisable items and place them in the "lunch tub" for the kids to grab. (chips, snack crackers, fruit snacks, pudding cups, fruit cups, granola, etc...) They can pack their own lunch with what they are in the mood for that day. Makes my life less hectic and the sandwiches are great!
Aug. 17, 2010 2:07 pm is a great website for healthy meals for kids. She has some awesome ideas for school lunches as well and takes daily photos of the finished lunch boxes. She has some great ideas like using leftover pancakes with some preserves and cream cheese to make little sandwiches. Check it out. You can also follow her on FB.
Jan. 5, 2012 12:03 am
I can't believe how many unhealthy choices I am reading that folks that are sending their kids to school with. Sloppy Joes, Chili mix with condensed soup added, Hot Dogs, Processed lunch meats and cheese?
Jan. 9, 2012 11:44 am
When packing my husband's lunch I usually put in a small salad (with a serving size amount of dressing on the side), a sandwich (for this I usually roast whole turkey breast and slice it up and put in the freezer in sandwhich size servings and thaw in the fridge the night before), and a few little snacks in serving sizes like peanuts, crackers, and easy to eat fruits like grapes or orange slices. Beside doing sandwhiches I also make tuna salad and put in crackers for a different type of main dish, you could also do tuna salad to top a salad. Those of you who believe the ideas given are unhealthy or unimaginative should consider leaving ideas of your own rather than simply leaving such negative remarks, very unproductive.
Apr. 15, 2012 7:36 am
Yes! Some of these ideas are not heathy. The sodium in the condensed soup... ugh... But if those folks had ideas of their own then they wouldnt be here. Would they? Just like me. :) I saw on pintrest where someone made a salad in a canning jar. The bottom had a layer of matchsitck carrots with the salad dressing under it to kep it from making the lettuce soggy. Then they jus built it from there. Cukes, grape tomatoes, diced chicken, lettuce..... etc... They made a weeks worth of lunch. Yea.. not new ideas here but there are only so many "new" ideas for take along lunches. I dont think anyone is leaving negative remarks. Just putting in their Humble opinion on some of the ideas. I thought the same thing. Maybe people dont know and I like to think of it as an eye opener. Very productive if you ask me. People need to be aware more these days of whats going into their bodies.Ya"ll have a blessed day!
Apr. 20, 2012 7:47 am
Thanks for giving links to additional recipes. While the categories like soups and casseroles are obvious, the recipes aren't. These are very helpful.
Oct. 11, 2012 5:13 pm
caesar wraps my hubby and kids love em..use carb balance flour totilla's cook plain white meat chicken after its cooled pull apart and shred up and add creamy caesar dressing( green onion optional) put into wrap add lettus if you choose. also if u have left over chicken cut into cubs add ur favorite buffalo sauce add to wrap with blue cheese chunks ,tomatoes ,lettus.any chicken left after that i shred and add mayo and green onion . this way i have 3 diff flavors and no waste!
Apr. 11, 2013 2:30 pm
I like to use leftover poached salmon ( and make a salmon pasta salad, using low-fat mayo, extra dill, whole-wheat pasta, diced dill pickles, onion... could add green onions or other veggies, as desired. I make enough for the week, putting it in 1-cup sized containers. Take it in your lunch with an apple and tomato/vegetable juice. Low-fat, quick and healthy.
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