Packing a lunch can help you save money at work. Keep foods at your desk or in an emergency snack box in your car with items such as granola bars, peanut butter, crackers, microwave popcorn, applesauce or fruit cups, soup, oatmeal, nuts, sunflower seeds, dry cereal or dried fruit. This helps in case you are running late or forget your lunch at home.
If your co-workers like to eat out together, suggest a potluck. One reader, Libby from Canada, shares: "To have a change or switch-up for lunch, a few of the girls at work and I do a potluck. One person will bring enough food for all three of us to share and we take turns doing this. One week, I made pot stickers/dumplings and sauteed Chinese veggies; the next week one girl made jerk chicken with rice and peas; and the following week the other girl made lasagna. It's fun to eat something that YOU didn't make. It makes you feel like you got out and tried something different and you didn't have to pay for it."
The first reader tip shares another way to get frugal work food. I've included two shortcut recipes from readers that you can make and enjoy anytime, too.
FRUGAL OFFICE FOOD:
The office itself can be a good source of frugal food -- leftovers! Every Friday, our sales department has bagels; I swing through, collect a few bagels and toss them in the office freezer and use them for breakfast or lunch the following week. The bagels are otherwise thrown out at the end of the day. The IT group is all over the building every day and knows where there are lunch leftovers. We just go in right after meetings and pack up food that is otherwise thrown away. It's often salads, fruit plates and sandwiches or pizza, perfect next-day leftovers. This is also a great way to get trays and lids, food storage for parties or for sharing food with others. -- Maggie, email
This is a quick and easy recipe for pumpkin pie lovers who don't have time to make a pie. It's a recipe I use for a class with children at the public library.
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups milk
3.5-ounce package instant vanilla pudding (you can use sugar-free)
Mix pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice together in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Slowly stir in milk. Mix well. Add the instant pudding mix and stir until it thickens. Portion into serving dishes and chill the mixture in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with whipped cream (if desired) and a dusting of crushed gingersnap cookies. Makes six servings. -- Karen, Kansas
EASY APPLE DUMPLINGS:
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
2 (10-ounce) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
4 ounces cream cheese, optional
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (12-fluid-ounce) can of Mountain Dew
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cut each apple into eight wedges and set aside. Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles. Spread half a teaspoon of cream cheese on each dough triangle (can omit this). Roll each apple wedge in crescent roll dough starting at the smallest end. Pinch to seal and place in the baking dish. Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Mountain Dew over the dumplings. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Serves 16. -- Sherry P., forums
photo by Listener42