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Home The Art of the Brown Bag Lunch


by Alaina R. Alexander

Several years ago, I discovered the art of the brown bag lunch out of sheer necessity. My lunch income consisted of a mere $80 a month. I quickly tabulated that my $30 a week lunch habit was going to keep my finances in the red.

At first, I tried bringing the frozen microwavable meals, but for the most part they were high in price and low on  portion.  I had no choice, but to prepare my own brown bag lunch.

My first few attempts were unqualified disasters.  I put too much sauce in my angel pasta meal and it leaked all over the inside of my attaché case.  My salad making abilities were not much better. I rarely drained the lettuce thoroughly so by lunchtime the lettuce leaves were wilted and soggy.

I wanted to give up my brown bag plan, but stubbornness and lack of cash were driving me to hang in there.

Armed with a library card and Internet access I set about researching different recipes, food and immersing myself in the works of celebrated food writers such as MFK Fisher and Ruth Reichl.

I had to look past the fact that I was bringing my lunch to work to save money. I was also getting a chance to create wonderful healthy meals that just happened to be inexpensive.

Their vivid descriptions of ingredients and fused flavor inspired me to pay more attention to the food that I’m buying. Instead of just looking at the price tag all of the time. This small change in my philosophy actually went a long way in saving money.

Six months later, my brown bag lunch creations were the envy of the cube farm!

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your brown bag lunch creations:

1. Keep your brown bag lunches simple.

2. Start out by bringing your brown bag lunch only 2-3 days a week.

3. Plan your brown bag lunches in accordance to the workplace kitchen facilities that are available. 

4. Purchase at least 5-10 microwavable containers.