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Mom On A Budget

with Ashleigh

Hello! I'm Ashleigh! I live in Michigan with my family of 3 girls (4 year old twins and a 2 year old), husband and abnormally large lab mix. Since I was little, I have loved to save money, but my bargaining skills were kicked up a notch when we found out we were having twins. I can spot a red clearance sticker from a mile away! I write tips and recipes on my blog Being Cheap is Easy and also on Recipes4Living. I love to cook, read, listen to music and watch anything on Bravo (so addicting!). Say hello on Twitter or Instagram!

Save Money: BYO Lunch to Work!

Categories: budget friendly, budget skills, lunch

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 photo BYOLunchCollage.jpg

Mornings in my house are hectic and by lunch time, I need a hearty, but healthy meal. To keep from mid-afternoon slumps, it’s best to focus on protein to keep you full. If you’re eating lunch in the office, there are many inexpensive meals you can make the night before and grab out of the fridge in the morning. If you have time during the weekend, I suggest prepping as much as you can! I make hard boiled eggs, grill some chicken on the Foreman and make a batch of quinoa or brown rice. Any veggies can be chopped and prepped for weekday meals.

1. Salad Jars. Put the dressing in the bottom of a mason jar (or any recycled jar) and pile in your favorite salad fixins. I like to keep chicken or ham on the side, as well as any croutons. Keep a nice big salad bowl at your desk to dump your jar into. If you are looking for some salad ideas, check out this post

2. Veggie Burgers. I love protein packed veggie burgers…especially the great new flavors that are out there. I buy the Boca Bruschetta variety to break up for lunch pita pizzas. The Mediterranean MorningStar burger is ah-mazing with some Oikos Dill Greek yogurt dip and cucumbers on a sandwich thin. At Costco, they sell black bean burgers that make a great quick quesadilla! Since they are veggie burgers, they are filling…but not heavy like a normal burger. You can keep some in the freezer at work and heat them up quickly in the microwave.

3. Overnight Oats. Yes, this is an amazing breakfast, but with the Greek yogurt and chia seeds, it makes a nice lunch too…especially if you’re working at your desk. I love to add peanut butter and bananas to mine.

4. Wrap it up! I love whole grain wraps stuffed with veggies and turkey. Instead of mayo, try veggie cream cheese or Greek yogurt dip to lighten up. TIP: Since wraps can easily get soggy, I like to wrap the inside ingredients of my wraps in parchment paper and keep the tortilla on the side until lunch.

5. Quinoa Bowls. Love Mexican food? Try a quinoa bowl. Add black beans, grilled chicken or steak, fajita peppers or whatever floats your boat! Top with cilantro and avocado and you have a great burrito bowl and you won’t miss the extra calories! It can be served cold or hot.

6. Homemade Soup. Even in the warmer months, I love soup for lunch. I have a whole series of simple soups on my blog that freeze well and can be made quickly. When freezing soups, put in a lunch sized portion and just take out of the freezer the night before…viola!

The main idea is to step away from frozen meals for lunch (I’m guilty of buying them!) and try to lighten up lunch. If you do a little prep, your waistline will thank you for healthy lunches…and so will your wallet!

What’s your go-to lunch?

5 Kid-Approved Lunch Ideas

Categories: budget friendly, budget skills, lunch, recipe

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Since my twins are in preschool, I haven’t packed lunches yet.  Next year, kindergarten is full day, so I better get prepared this summer!  I do make lunch every day for my kids and it gets hard to think of new ideas.  You can only make a sandwich so many different ways!

Last fall, I got the book Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord and in the book there are so many tasty ideas.  If you follow her on Instagram, she posts the daily lunches she sends with her kids. They are all SO creative, even I wouldn’t mind eating them.

Here are some of our favorite lunches…all quick and easy!

Wrap It Up

(photo cred: www.winterwheat1.com )

Whenever whole wheat wraps go on sale, we make sure to stock up–they can be used for so much! (Note: they freeze well!) Favorite way: wraps!  The possibilities are endless, but these are some big hits for us:

· Hawaiian Wrap: sliced ham, diced pineapple, swiss cheese with mayo

· Club Wrap: smoked turkey, cucumbers, avocado and bacon

· Pizza: fill with all of your favorite toppings, mozzarella and sauce

· Veggie: cucumbers, red pepper, spinach and hummus

Pizzadilla

(photo cred: www.plainchicken.com)

Open up a pita and fill it with favorite pizza toppings, grill on the Foreman and you have an easy lunch!  This is great cold, so go ahead and pack it to-go, also!

Soup

(photo cred: www.food.com)

I can eat soup any season, so I like to make big batches and freeze in lunch sized portions.  I know time is limited on the week days, so I suggest making a batch or two on the weekends or a free weeknight to fill up your fridge and freezer!  Here are some basics to get you started…once you make your own, you’ll never go back to canned!  To take in lunches, just fill up a thermos.  Soup is a great opportunity to fill your kids with veggies without a big fuss.

· Broccoli Cheddar

· Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper

· Loaded Baked Potato

· Chicken & Dumpling

· Turkey Meatball Minestrone

Veggie Filled Mac n Cheese

(photo cred: margaretsdish.blogspot.com)

I won’t lie and say we never just pull a blue box out of our cabinet, but sometimes homemade mac n cheese just tastier.  I like to boil noodles with some frozen peas, carrots and broccoli.  Drain, then toss with some milk and Velveeta cheese.  So simple!

MYO Skewers

(photo cred: www.sheknows.com)

This can also be called a “fridge cleaner”.  I chop up any fruit, cheese or veggies I can find.  Also, I roll up lunch meat to be speared.  Add some dippers: yogurt for the fruit and ranch for the veggies, and you’ve got a lunch.  I like to use flat (not sharp) toothpicks to spear the items.  This can be transformed into the lunch box easily, too!

What’s your go-to lunch?

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