Brown bag lunch

Elevate Your Brown Bag

If you have committed to taking your own lunch to work to save money, you will soon find that the sandwich and chips combo quickly gets old. This is why so many people fail at brown bagging, they make it boring. It does not have to be though. With a little thought, you can make your lunch like a pro and realize continued savings. Let’s look at some ideas.

Think Above & Beyond

You do not actually have to be a world class chef to make a great meal but you have to use a little creativity. If all that you are serving yourself every day is an ordinary sandwich and a bag of chips, your brown bag experiment is not going to last long. We need variety to stay interested.

Serving yourself a variety of lunches is not as hard as you might think and you can do so while still saving a lot of money. Here are some areas ways that you can add variety and a little spice to your afternoon bag lunch.

1. Make Your Sandwiches Extraordinary

If your sandwich consists of meat, cheese and bread only, you are missing out and doing your taste buds no favors. Sandwiches are the mainstay of most lunches by they do not have to be boring. Here are some ways to take your sandwiches to the next level.


If you are serving basic white or wheat loaf bread that is the ultimate in boring. Have you ever been to a deli and been served a sandwich on Wonderbread? I certainly hope not. If you change just one thing about your sandwiches, make it the bread.

Good bread is the foundation of a good sandwich and it does not even cost that much. Check out the bakery at your local supermarket and you will see a huge variety of options for 50 cents or less a serving. Spend a few extra dollars now and keep the big savings from not dining out coming in. This could be sourdough loaf, mini baguettes, rye bread, croissants or even pita bread.

Sometimes you might have to buy whole loaves of bread but bread actually freezes very well. Get several different types of bread, divide them into servings and pop them into the freezer. Then you can just thaw as needed. Remember to slice rolls and croissants while they are still frozen.


If you are using deli  meat, go to the butcher and get it sliced fresh. This will allow you to get it sliced to the thickness that you like and will let you buy smaller portions. The last thing that you would want to do is buy 2 pounds of black forest ham. You might love it, but it will get old quick. Instead, get smaller 1/4 pound portions and mix it up. Pastrami, roast beef, ham, turkey, etc.

Another way to make the meat in your sandwich special is to ditch the deli meat altogether. Cubed chicken can easily be turned into an easy chicken salad with some spices and a bit of mayo. Grilled meat can be sliced for a rotisserie style sandwich. Even leftover steak is a worthy topping.


A sandwich is not complete without some toppings. Go outside of the box with cheese and splurge a bit on a good provolone, swiss or sharp cheddar.

Veggies can also be brought in to take things up a level. Tomatoes and lettuce are a no brainer but also look at sprouts, jalapenos, red peppers, olives, etc.

Finally, don’t forget the avocado. Extremely healthy filling and suprisingly easy to use. You can even make a simple guacamole by mashing up an avocado, adding a 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice and using garlic salt to taste.

2. Introduce Salads Into The Mix

Salads can be boring, if you let them be.

There is nothing worse than eating a bowl of leafy greens by itself. Sure, it is healthy but getting it down is tough.

Just like with sandwiches, toppings are the key. Get bagged lettuce mixes and add shredded carrots, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and whatever other vegetables that you like. That alone will make a boring salad a bit more interesting.

Some other great toppings to consider are sliced boiled eggs, cheese, croutons and even corn or beans.

Top it all off with some shredded or cubed grilled meat and the dressing of your choice and you have a worthy meal.

3. Consider Other Options

If you mix up your salads and sandwiches a bit, you may never get sick of them. If you do, you have a lot of other options to consider. Here are some more to mix in.


Rice can be the basis for a number of meals. Use instant rice packets or make your own rice at home and pack it up. Then add some meat and seasoning and you are all set. Consider spicy or sweet and sour sauces for an easy Chinese food meal. Add some beans and a bit of salsa for a Mexican treat. There are a lot of ways you can go with rice and it is cheap and easy.


Another cheap option that requires just a bit of sauce and some meat. Take a basic microwave past and elevate it with some peas, corn or maybe some fresh vegetables. A bit of cubed meat left over from last nights dinner and you are all set.

Wrapping Up

There are hundreds of different meals that you can make for work, so stop limiting yourself to a basic sandwich. Even if you are not a cook, it takes little time or knowledge to elevate some basic dishes.

If you are just now thinking about brown bagging because you need more money for savings or what have you, start off on the right track. Keep your meals exciting and don’t let them get boring.

Once you start making great lunches, you will start enjoying yourself more and you might even start getting some company. When coworkers start seeing your success at saving 150 dollars a month or more and the great food you are eating, they might start to join you. A little company can make it that much easier to stick to the plan and keep saving money.

Posted by
James Car

James Car is a finance, loan and budget expert based in the United States. After attending Brookhaven college, he went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He now enjoys writing articles that help people save and make the most of their money.