Let’s Talk About Lunch!

So a little life back story here, I am a stay at home wife, not by choice but by health. I am unable to work due to a medical condition and so out of necessity I am forced to stay home. This leaves me often times with a huge weight of guilt. My husband works very hard to support us and so I feel like my job is to work just as hard to support him.

Sadly because I have health issues sometimes our house is not as clean as I would like, sometimes the dishes don’t get done and unfortunately at least once or twice a month we just have to order out because I can not stand long enough to make us dinner.

But the one thing I do manage to do is make him a home packed lunch. Now we are not talking a wilted sandwich and bruised apple of my father’s lunches, (in my mother’s defense she had to make five lunches every night, cook dinner, keep house and work a full time job, not to mention we did not have all the fancy tools available back then) but a lunch which people he works with eye with envy.

No I do not make super fancy lunches served in a picnic basket, but I do manage to give him a lunch which keeps him feed, healthy and happy. I will now endeavor to share my tips and tricks on how to make your family’s lunches something they will want to eat while saving you a few dollars in the process.

The first thing you need to do is know who you are making lunch for. You will need to shop for a few essential items and they should be reflective of the person you are buying them for. For example the wicked cool red lunch bag may have caught your eye, but might be a little loud for your husband, and who says little girls can’t have a Star Wars lunch box if they want one. So when you go out to buy their lunch box keep in mind their tastes not yours.

Things you will need to make your loved one’s lunch a work of art are as follows.

1. Lunch bag (be sure you buy one of the appropriate size. My husband not only takes lunch in his but breakfast and an afternoon snack as he is gone from the house for nearly 12 hours sometimes)

2. two – four lock and lock containers sandwich size like these ones. I use two for my husband’s lunch and so I buy four because that way if he forgets them one day I am not left trying to find a substitute for them. I also buy these at the dollar store so if they get broken or lost I am not out major bucks and believe me they will get broken and lost it is the way of the world.

3. two drink containers. These I do not buy at the dollar store. I always buy brand name and make sure the the recycling symbol on the bottom is either #2, #4 or #5 to be sure they are safe. Read here for more information on safe plastics. Again I buy two so if one if left at work I have another one handy.

4. Plastic folks and spoons, as well as napkins round out my supplies. These are added in an as needed bases.

So you are now prepared to begin making lunches. First thing I do is shop in bulk. I buy all my lunch meats at the deli, then when I get home I separate it out  into individual servings, using a little wax paper to separate them, and then freeze them. I do this because I buy groceries only once every two weeks and I find lunch meat can get a little green by the end of those two weeks.

I also buy bagels in bulk, for $3.49 I can get 18 bagels (no-name brand) where if I buy something like Dempster it  is more like $1.99 for 6. I simply freeze the extra bagels into bags of 5 so I have only one weeks worth out at a time. I buy light cream cheese which allows me to control the amount going on the bagel. When my hubby was buying bagels it was $1.50 a day, since I started making them at home it costs us less then $8 for two weeks.

The next thing I do is bake whatever “treat” of the week that is going into his lunch bag. Often it is something like raisin bread, apple bread or some form of cookie which I make with Splenda. This allows for a much less guilty treat while giving him something sweet. I make these and package them individually and freeze them. This provides a few advantages. One if they are frozen they are less likely to be pilfered in the evening, two it keeps them fresh longer I simply take one out and pop it in his lunch in the evening and by the time he is ready to eat it at lunch it is thawed and  perfect, and lastly if I do this on the weekend it means I don’t have to hunt for things to put in his lunch. I have it all planned out.

I also make fresh bread and pre-slice and package it and freeze it as well so when I am ready to make his lunch it is waiting for me, but you don’t need to do this store bought bread works just fine. You can also use wraps, the small ones make handy lunches and two fit perfectly into the container.

Sometimes when we have leftovers I will substitute his sandwich with that. These lock and lock containers can be used for this, and the great news is they don’t spill. I turn the hubby’s on their side all the time and they never drip or spill. They are microwave safe and easy to rinse. This is when I add a spoon or fork as well. I just wrap it in the napkin and toss it in.

So every evening before bed I have a ten minute ritual where I make his lunch. I do up his sandwich tucking it into it’s container, which keeps it fresh and never wilted or squished. I make up his bagel and cream cheese and put that in the second sandwich container which is a perfect fit and keeps it from sliding around. I add his “treat” and a serving of fruit, lastly I fill his drink bottle and put it all in the fridge.

Come morning he takes it with him and I feel good knowing he has a healthy lunch, not to mention one that costs us a fraction of what it would cost if he ate at the burger joint down the street everyday.

There are lots of fun things you can do to show your loved ones you love and miss them, add a little note to their lunch box, throw in a special chocolate for holidays. Add a card for things like Birthdays and Valentines Day. Nothing makes lunch more fun then when you open it and not only does it taste great but you know it was made with a little extra love.

Join us again soon and we will return to finish off out holiday cookies as well as talk more about bread.

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