Monday, October 11, 2010

One Weekend Meal; Five Weekday Lunches

A Boston-based Marketing-Communications professional, Meghan is the writer of the blog Travel, Wine, and Dine, a site that encompasses “Food, wine, travel, and the everyday adventures of a 30-something Boston girl.” A love for food and travel have been prevalent since Meghan’s childhood and were only amplified when, during college, she lived in Ireland and traveled extensively throughout Europe. Multiple recent trips to Napa and Sonoma Valleys have spurred an increasing interest in all things wine, leading her to Boston University’s Wine Studies program. 

If you are like me and you love to eat, you don’t want to settle for a boring, expensive, or unhealthy lunch option during the week, whether at the office or at home. Early in my career, I really did not look forward to lunch time. Cafes and restaurants near most offices can be overpriced and often don’t offer the best choices. I ended up with soggy sandwiches or canned soups which were loaded with sodium and that “just out of a can” flavor.

Bringing my own lunch saves me about $50 a week, possibly more considering the lunch options near where I work. When I factor that out over the course of a year, taking a few weeks out for vacation; that makes over $2,000 in savings!

An easy one pot meal that I can use for a variety of lunches is three bean vegetarian chili. I start with a basic recipe like the one I posted on Plummelo, and then add in whatever I have. The more veggies, the better! Incorporating frozen veggies is a great way to get nutrient-rich, flash-frozen produce year round on the cheap, and they are a great addition to chili. Packed with nutritious, filling, and inexpensive ingredients, chili keeps well for days, can be made to the individual’s taste, and provides endless opportunities to create “new” meals with one base meal.

Rice and Beans. Mix ½ cup brown rice with ½ cup chili. Add hot sauce, chopped raw onion, and chopped jalapenos if you are adventurous!

Hot and cold salad - serve warmed chili atop a bed of shredded romaine lettuce, spinach, and shredded cheese. Make two servings, and save one for Wednesday.

Mix a serving of Tuesday’s salad with 1 tsp. plain yogurt, and ¼ chopped avocado. Roll into a whole wheat wrap/burrito shell.

Chili empanadas! Split a cup of chili into two ½ cup servings. I would suggest using a slotted spoon to move the chili so that the liquid is as drained out as possible. Roll out store bought pie dough or puff pastry dough into large squares. Scoop chili into the middle of each square, fold dough, and seal around the edges using a fork to press down and create a decorative edge. Bake according to dough package directions or until golden.

You made it! Hopefully the variations using your Sunday chili have kept you satisfied and happy with your lunch. For Friday, mix a cup of chili with 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth. Adding liquid will thin out the chili into a lovely soup. You may want to add additional spices or hot sauce at this point, as the flavors may be diluted by the broth. You could also add leftover rice from Monday or small, cooked pasta to the dish. Soups are a great way to use up any random bits of pasta, bread, meat or beans you might have from other meals during the week!

It only takes a couple of hours and, most importantly, a little bit of creativity to stretch your dollar and on-hand ingredients to make five delicious meals for the week!


  1. Wow, this is a great way to stretch a meal without getting bored! I'm a big fan of bringing in leftovers for lunch and Meghan's creativity inspires me to think outside of the box!

  2. I love that Meghan changed up the meal like that. I tend to just take one thing each day and then get bored with it by Friday. I'll have to think of ways I can use a base thing and turn it into different meals.