If the thought of packing a lunch conjures up images of soggy sandwiches and wilted salad, hold on! Consumer Reports ShopSmart has ways to add spark to lunches so that you can start adding up the savings.
Take the Olive Garden's Caesar salad with grilled chicken. It costs almost $12 and packs 850 calories. ShopSmart's salad costs about $4 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 and 700 calories. ShopSmart's homemade recipe costs a little over $2 to make and has about 400 calories.
But packing a lunch doesn't mean you always have to tote the basics. 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 such as 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.
Love appetizers? Instead of spending big bucks at a restaurant, bring your own. Pack 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 one at work can be a budget and diet buster. The last thing you want is to get stuck in a rut.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart says of course, a salad is a really healthful choice at lunch, too. But to avoid wilted and soggy lettuce, pack the salad dressing on the side. Another alternative, chopped veggies such as peppers, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, or sugar snap peas in a vinaigrette. They'll stay crunchier than lettuce.
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