As far as work lunches go, we could get a lot better at cost cutting with research showing that Australians spend $8.3 billion on these takeaway meals a year.
According to ING Direct that cost equates to $1,548 on average per working person each year.
This is all money that can arguably be put to better use, and indeed saved towards something else. But there’s also health savings too. Bringing your own lunch means you control the fat, salt and sugar content.
While a $15 lunch here or there doesn’t sound like much, research shows that it really does add up.
There is no doubt that bringing lunch from home will save you money, especially when you follow some simple tips.
- This is one of the most cost effective lunches out there. It helps to prevent food wastage and also means no extra cooking effort.
- Another tip is to stock the pantry with long shelf life staples: brown rice, vermicelli noodles, quinoa – there are so many pantry items that are good for us, as well as budget friendly, with a long shelf life.
Healthy, cost-effective lunch alternatives
Costing around $1.40 per serve, mini Frittatas are great. One cooking effort makes around 14 frittatas; they freeze well, fill you up, are healthy.
A different alternative to help cut costs is setting up a salad club. It saves time and money. Each person is responsible for buying and creating the salads on Tuesdays and Thursdays for one week.
So if there are four of you in the salad club, you’re up once every four weeks. How it works best? Pick a weekly theme! Recipes like sandwiches, mountain bread wraps and corn thins means there’s less food wastage at home.
Also cooking a big batch of brown rice, quinoa, or lentils means you’ve got some healthy staples in the fridge ready to pack.
Cost cutting without taste cutting
Another key tip is toasting a home-made sandwich at work and using a hot sandwich press.
When it comes to salads, a variety of textures creates a flavour explosion. Soft rich flavours like goats curd are offset by the crunch of nuts, celery or seeds. One sweeter ingredient balances out some of the bitterness you can taste in some salad leaves.
Key ingredients to keep in the household that are easy and versatile:
- Goats curd keeps longer than some other goats cheeses; it also adds so much flavour, and can be used in salads, or as a spread. Goats curd also has less salt than traditional Feta cheese.
- Brown rice, vermicelli noodles, quinoa are all great lunch fillers and keep well.
- Tinned legumes (think lentils, chickpeas) are cost effective, versatile, packed with protein, and are thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the gut.
- Mountain bread can be a delicious alternative to some of the thicker wrap breads. It tastes amazing toasted in a sandwich press, but be aware it can get soggy due to its thinness.
Financy a cost cutting recipe for this week’s work lunch?
Asparagus, Pumpkin and Goats Cheese Mini Frittata:
- 500g pumpkin (butternut or kent), cut into 3cm cubes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 10 eggs
- 1 bunch chives, finely chopped (or dried chives keep longer)
- 1 bunch thin asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 1.5cm pieces and blanched in boiling
- water for 1-2 minutes
- 120g goats curd (keeps better than goats cheese)
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Spread pumpkin cubes on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Roast for 6-8 minutes until slightly tender. Reduce oven to 180°C.
2. Grease muffin tin or line with baking paper/cupcake liners. Dollop a sugar cube size of goats curd in each muffin mould.
3. In a bowl, lightly beat eggs, stirring in chives, salt and pepper. Add roasted pumpkin and asparagus and mix well. Spoon mixture evenly throughout muffin moulds. Dollop remaining goats curd on top of each frittata.
4. Bake for 18-20min or until golden brown on top. Stand for 10 minutes. Serve, fridge or freeze.