Easy Grab-and-go Food ideas

I’ll be moving in with my girlfriend next month, and we are trying to come up with money-saving ideas. One obvious idea is to not eat out nearly as much as we currently do. However, we are both on crazy schedules and won’t always be home at meal times.

I need ideas on cheap/easy meals I can make, store in the fridge, and be able to take with to work/class in a lunchbox. Assume that icepacks can be used, and a microwave will be readily available near mealtime.

A few ideas we’ve had so far:

  1. Big batch of chili/soup stored in serving-sized containers.
  2. Make about 2 dozen eggs worth of egg-salad, and individually saran wrap into sandwiches.

Any suggestions? I could use ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Keep in mind I am not a master chef, and if it costs more than $5 per serving it probably isn’t a money-saver compared to eating out.

Couscous with almost any combination of meat/chicken/veggies.

for breakfast, bake a batch or two of muffins. packets of instant oatmeal work well in a coffee mug - you can usually get a mega sized box of individual servings at a CostCo type place - and the price per serving goes down drastically there.

You didn’t mention a thermos, but Ramen Noodles + Boiling Water + Spice Packet + Thermos = meal kept hot for pretty much all day (depending on your thermos’ quality) for about $0.10. Takes about five seconds to prepare in the morning (if you put the kettle on while you’re getting ready for work/school). I frequently do this, preparing the noodles in the morning, and they’re acceptably hot when I eat them at work in the evenings (maybe my thermos is magic or something, but I doubt it).

Even if you BUY some vending machine chips (as opposed to buying a big bag and doling them out into servings and taking them with you), it’s still a meal for less than a dollar.

for breakfast I like the Nutragrain waffles with lowfat cheese and a slice of canadian bacon on it or fat free cream cheese and some smoked salmon. I have a toaster oven and put the waffles in there and then get dressed, put the topping on and toast a little more while I am gathering up my purse and shoes, put the waffle on a papertowl grab my tea and head out the door. Eat an apple with it and you have a really good tasty balanced meal with fiber, low fat protein, dairy, vitamins etc.

My local store has smoked salmon for $4.99 a pound and since I only eat a couple of ounces a day it lasts quite a while.

Also, a slowcooker is your friend. If you don’t have one, look at a thrift store. They can be used for lots of stuff.

One of my favorites is to wait until pork loin goes on sale (you can get it for ~$1.50/lb, if not cheaper) and buy a bunch. I cook about 4-5 pounds at a time, just put it in the cooker, toss a little water in there, and leave it for 12 hours or so (you can be more creative with spices/liquids if you like…). Once it’s done, I shred it and mix with some good barbecue sauce. Make some sandwiches and toss them in the fridge. Lasts me more than a week, even if I eat it for every meal. Even counting the bread and bbq sauce, it comes out to way less than a buck a sandwich.

You can also make soups and stews and chilis and have them cook while you’re gone so they’re ready when you get back. Good stuff.

Check Big Lots, too, if you have one in your area. We discovered today that ours had about six different sizes, all under ten or eleven bucks. TikkiDad got a 2.5 quart one that came with maybe a couple dozen recipes for a wide variety of foods and I think I’ll go back for a 1.5 quart jobbie. The biggest, I believe, was 6 quarts.

That said, bean soups are cheap, filling, nutritious and would keep well in a Thermos.

I really like these egg & sausage “muffins.” They happen to be low-carb but that’s what makes them so great as breakfast food - they’re all protein and fat, no fillers. They keep you going a long time:

This is just one example. You can google “low carb egg sausage muffin” for more examples:
http://www.lowcarb.ca/recipes/breakfast102.html

And…are you saying you are going to pre-wrap egg salad sandwiches and keep them in the fridge, or just keep some egg salad in the fridge and make sandwiches every day? Cuz I’m pretty sure that a day-old egg salad sandwich is going to be kind of soggy…

But, egg salad itself does last quite a while. Making a dozen hard-boiled eggs on the weekend and storing them in the shell all week in the fridge is a good idea too. Just make sure you keep them in a sealed container because they can stink a bit.

I usually take a Lean Cuisine or other low cal meal, a handful of raw veggies, a piece of fruit, some yogurt, popcorn for a snack and a thermos of iced tea (sounds like a lot, but I work 10-12 hours at a time)…all of that for under $5.

These ideas are great, thank you! I don’t think I’m going to be able to wait the month to start trying them. I’m definitely going to go invest in a Thermos and a Cockpot (that’s what you mean by slow-cooker, right?) as soon as my next paycheck comes in.

All of these are by far healthier than my usual daily intake of: 1 frozen pizza, 2 McDonalds double cheeseburgers, 1 McChicken, 1 bacon sandwich, and 2 cups of coffee.

Great, now I’m stuck at work and hungry after reading all these. I should have started this thread yesterday :smiley:

I’m not touching that one with a 10-foot pole. :smiley:

Typo aside, yes, that’s the most well-known brand of slow-cooker.

Oh dear, that’s one of them there freudian typos, isn’t it?

Back in my college days, I would make a big ol’ pot of pasta on the weekend, then eat it throughout the week with a couple of spoonfuls of pasta sauce and a protein of my choice. My favorite was to go to the deli and get the concoction called turkey ham and have it cut really thin. It would last a while and I could throw it onto anything and it would taste good. Another good protein choice for me was a bag of cooked frozen cocktail shrimp. You can get a big bag for about 9 bucks and then put a few shrimp (4 to 6 was always good for me) into your pasta, ramen noodle, rice, or salad. It will last you. I don’t think that tuna has been mentioned yet. Potatoes are another cheap and filling food item that you can take with you, throw in a microwave and stuff with a little bit of meat or veggies.

Cheap, easy, grab-and-go? I thought I told you to stop calling me that. :slight_smile:

Here’s one that I’m hooked on right now. A slice of turkey, a slice of cheese, and some steamed broccoli wrapped in a wheat tortilla. Microwave it until the cheese is all melty. It’s like a Hot Pocket, only healthier, more filling, and way less expensive.

You can make a few and individually wrap them in saran and they’ll keep for a few days in your refrigerator without getting soggy.

I like Soup at Hand by Campbell’s. Pop it in the microwave for about 1:15 and you’ve got a nice thermos of soup. The other thing I’ve noticed is that since it’s hot, you have to slow down to drink it. It tends to calm me down from the frantic morning work, and I can relax and get myself ready for the afternoon.

I also like V-8s, they’re very good for you (unless you’re on a low-salt diet) and they fill me up as well.

The thing you need to do is preparation. Set aside a couple of hours on Sunday (or whenever) and make your meals for the next week. Then, in the morning, when you’re running around, all you have to do is grab and go.

I normally would assume you already know this, but maybe things is different up thar in Michigan.

Breakfast - fry up some eggs and hashbrowns the night before, put on flour tortilla with chedder and/or jack and some pork green chili, maybe cook up some bacon or sausage, wrap in plastic. Next morning nuke it for 28-43 seconds.

Lunch - fry up some hamburger, put on tortilla with refritos, cheese, and pork green chili. Wrap in plastic and nuke for 32-47 seconds.

I like to do a pound of hamburger (or half-dozen eggs) at a time, make a bunch and stick them in the freezer.

Ask Metafilter has some great brown bagging ideas:

Let’s see, my work week lunches/snacks include, but are not limited to: tuna sandwiches on 12 grain bread, standard deli meat/cheese/mayo/sprouts/tomato sandwiches or bunwiches (keep tomato separate until sandwich/bunwich is ready to eat), bagel and cream cheese (we have a toaster oven in the lunchroom), leftovers from dinner the night before, fruit, stuff from the bulk foods section of the grocery store (nuts, etc.), crackers and cheese, cold pizza, and single serving oatmeal packets.

This seems like the PERFECT place to ask this question! I’m completely addicted to Hot Pockets, but the two vegetarian flavors are getting really boring. I’d been toying around with the idea of making a bunch of little pies with various fillings, but I don’t know how well they’d freeze and then microwave, and I don’t really know how to go about this anyway… I’d assume that I precook the filling, bake to brown crust, and then let cool and freeze, but would that even work?

If this would work, it’s also a wonderful solution to the OP.

Save some ketchup/condiment packets from your fast food jaunts. Then it’s easy to pop a hotdog into a bun and nuke that at work. Bring chips, or some macaroni salad or something that you whip up on the weekend and eat all week. I have a great recipe for one with tuna - let me know if you want me to post it.

I make “veggie wraps”, too: flour tortilla spread with hummus, sprinkle on sliced olives (I like green, but I’m a Philistine :slight_smile: ), some paprika, if you’re feeling very fancy, and sliced carrots. Put a 2 romaine leaves in the middle with a stalk of celery and roll it up - wrap in tin foil and eat like a burrito. Very tasty, very healthy, low calorie and amazingly filling. You’d probably have a hard time eating 2.

My girlfriend gets a package of frozen burritos at the grocery store and tosses one or two of those in her lunch. They’re pretty cheap.

For breakfast, you can assemble your bagel and schmear pretty quickly and take it with. Or make your own frozen waffles - just toast and top with butter and jam. Yum!

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls can be the answer to your prayers. Leave them in squares instead of separating into triangles, fill to your heart’s content, seal, poke with fork, and bake. Voila: your own (most likely freezable) hot pockets. You’d probably get 4 pockets out of a can of crescent rolls, so you might not even need to freeze them. I’ll bet they have some recipes on their site - I’d look for you but I gotta go to bed yawn!