Packing Lunch Adds up to Big Savings

November 3, 2009 6:56:10 PM PST
Packing a lunch isn't just for kids, especially during these tough economic times.Robyn Weltman packs a lunch every day, "I do like it. Because a, it's more cost effective and b, it's less fattening. You know, I can pack what I want."

Consumer Reports says a few simple moves can add up to real savings. Take the Olive Garden's Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken. It costs almost $12.00 and packs 850 calories. Consumer Reports' salad costs about $4.00, and contains 550 calories.

Even sandwiches add up. At Panera Bread a smoked ham and swiss on whole-grain bread will set you back about $5.00, and 700 calories. Consumer Reports' homemade recipe costs a little over $2.00 to make and has about 400 calories. But packing a lunch doesn't mean you always have to tote the basics.

Sue Perry with Consumer Reports said, "Try a frittata or a piece of quiche. Both are easy to pack and are great served warm or cold."

Or dress up dinner leftovers like orzo, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, or couscous. Add some favorite chopped veggies, olive oil and vinegar, or whatever you like, and pack it up.

Consumer Reports says, of course, a salad is a really healthy choice at lunch. To avoid wilted and soggy lettuce, pack the salad dressing on the side.

Love appetizers? Instead of spending big bucks at a restaurant, bring your own. Pack up some cubed mozzarella or provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, crusty whole-grain bread, olives, and salami. Or consider a small container of hummus and some pita bread for dipping. And don't forget to pack a drink! Buying them at work can be a budget and diet buster.

Perry said, "The last thing you want is to get stuck in a rut, mix it up."

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