Menu Plan for the Week ~ And Why We Eat Hot Lunches Instead of Sandwiches

This week, I plan to answer several frequently asked questions that I hear, you know, frequently. Clever idea, eh? I’ll be addressing the question of why I don’t have a Sam’s or Costco membership, how I store fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh, and this question:

Why do my lunches seem so involved? Why don’t I just feed my family sandwiches for lunch? So let’s start with this question since it relates to my menu plan.

The two main reasons we eat full meals at lunchtime instead of sandwiches are to save money and to save time.  All six of us are usually home for lunch. We go through about two loaves of bread and up to two pounds of lunch meat and cheese in one meal – and that’s just the sandwiches. The cost of feeding my family sandwiches for a meal can really add up, so we save sandwich meals for times we’re on the go. There are many other meals I can serve at lunchtime that save us on our grocery budget. (Check out our Real Food Dollar Menu recipes for ideas.)

As for time? I find that if I’ve got food prepped in the freezer, it takes less than ten minutes to prepare lunch. A frozen casserole can be pulled out and put it into the oven mid-morning while we go about our school day. Foods like Chicken Patties or Popcorn Chicken freeze easily, and just have to be rewarmed in the oven. Serving fruits and veggies with these meals is easy as all I have to do is pull out the raw veggies that I’ve already cut, wash a container of berries, or steam veggies quickly. I also let my boys help with meal prep and clean up.

You like how I said “let my boys help?”  Obviously, that means that I holler out their names and start giving out orders. Oh yes, I let them do all sorts of things around here. (Speaking of which, I really should let someone put the clothes in the dryer right now…)

Sandwiches work for many families – just not mine at this stage of life. What do you eat at lunchtime? 

Here’s our menu plan for this week:

Sunday, February 16
Instant oatmeal, pears
Fund raising dinner at church (Asa is going with a group of teens to Ecuador this summer!)
Small group – Soups, breads, fruit

Monday, February 17
Fruit pizza, bacon
Chicken patty sandwiches, carrots and cucumbers with homemade ranch, fresh pineapple
Italian cream cheese chicken, tossed salad, green beans

Tuesday, February 18
Honey cinnamon muffins, scrambled eggs, oranges
Pizza casserole, steamed veggies, canned peaches
Teriyaki chicken and veggies (broccoli, carrots, zucchini), pineapple

Wednesday, February 19
Raspberry oatmeal bars, bananas
Taco corn fritters, sweet peppers and carrot sticks, apples
Chicken noodle soup, tossed salad

Thursday, February 20
Fried eggs on toast, clementines
Healthier cheese dip, organic tortilla chips, grapes, sweet peppers
Chili mac, tossed salad, peas, blackberries

Friday, February 21
Whole wheat waffles, blueberries
Beefy vegetable soup, cornbread
Cheesy salsa enchiladas, tossed salad, corn, raspberries

Saturday, February 22
Dark chocolate almond granola, pears
Leftovers
Beef stroganoff, tossed salad, roasted veggies

Comments

  1. says

    More and more we’ve been making “real food” for lunch instead of sandwiches. I don’t find it adds to the grocery budget at all, and I’ve been surprised how little time it actually takes. Even better, they’re not hunting me down an hour or two later already looking for a snack. I do keep them simple- scratch chicken strips, tacos, burgers, and homemade pizzas. There’s still the occasional sandwich, but that’s usually a grilled cheese paired with a homemade tomato soup- hearty and satisfying.

    We save the sandwiches for when we need to take a meal on the go with us. Works great, because then we’re not sick of having sandwiches all the time, and they’re almost a treat.

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  2. Marla says

    I am wondering how you clean your fruits and vegetables. Especially ones that are not organic. Thanks.

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    Laura Reply:

    If I remember and take the time, I use some Basic H from Shaklee. That’s good stuff!

    Otherwise I just give them a good rinse with water. I know I could be more careful with how I wash them, but really, I’ve had to just let go of the worry when it comes to non-organics.

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  3. Karen says

    I thought I was the only mom who thinks making sandwiches is expensive — glad I’m not alone! I only have 2 boys, but we blow through a loaf of bread probably every couple of days if it goes unguarded (LOL). One of my sons will make himself a PB&J for breakfast over eating cereal or yogurt which is sort of okay with since I let the kids do breakfast for themselves on weekdays. But we really blow through the bread and peanut butter that way. I love your meal plans and you have inspired me to be more organized and do more one-dish meals, so thank you!

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  4. Anitra says

    I have to admit, my 3-year-old eats a PBJ for lunch nearly every day. But my 5-year-old doesn’t particularly like traditional sandwiches, and so I have to come up with lots of other options that can be packed for school… her favorites are probably a bagel or pasta (in a thermos to stay warm), but we’ve also done soup, or even cheese and crackers. Of course, plenty of fruit and veggies – the girl already eats a LOT; easily twice as much as some of her classmates (who are eating mostly pre-packaged and processed food).

    Personally, I do prefer a hot lunch, especially in the winter. I tend to do single servings of leftovers or other easy options for myself. And then a snack in the afternoon. :)

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    Laura Reply:

    Hey, if that’s what your 3 year old likes, that’s great! I love me the occasional pbj. :) Sounds like you do a great job coming up with great lunch options to pack for your daughter. Well done!

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  5. R says

    My husband would be happy eating pb&j on homemade bread for lunch every day at work and the kids used to eat sandwiches at lunch almost every day, but more and more I’m trying to give them more variety. Every lunch gets fruit and vegetables. Some recent anchors have included potatoes in the thermos with cheese and sour cream; strawberry bread and trail mix; and chef salad with your biscuit mix. I often enjoy a large bowl of plain yogurt with nuts, fruit, cinnamon and chia seeds.

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  6. Amy says

    I love your recipes and website. It’s very inspiring! Thank you. Do your kids typically eat your tossed salad? I have a hard time getting my kids to eat one. Just wondering what all you put into it?

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, although for a couple of our boys, we have to “make” them eat it. :) We mostly just set out a variety of greens for them to tear up and put onto their plates – leaf lettuce, spinach, and spring mix. Tomatoes in season. Nothing too exciting. While they don’t all love salad, I think they understand that they “need” it. They each have a favorite homemade dressing, so it helps if I have all of those available!

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    Amy Reply:

    Thanks!

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  7. Stephanie says

    I’m curious about your portion sizes. Do you double the recipes you post here when you feed your family?

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, I double or sometimes triple most of my recipes. :)

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  8. Julie says

    Last night, while making fish enchiladas, I realized that your meal plans don’t include much fish (other than occasional bit of tuna). Is that on purpose? Or just an unfortunate part of living in beautiful Nebraska? It might be an area to consider as part of the Healthy Eating challenge. We aim to eat fish once a week – usually hidden in enchiladas (just like they make ’em in Mexico!) or using canned salmon. Alas, we still need to work on increasing the veggies we eat!

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    Laura Reply:

    I definitely need to be more intentional about this – but yes definitely, living in Nebraska makes it difficult to get good fish without spending a huge amount of money. Sometimes I get fish at walmart and just decide to feel okay about it. My kids love it when I fry fish or make garlic butter shrimp. I need to do this more often!

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  9. Mary Anna says

    Dear Laura,
    I’m a long time reader, but never commented before. We eat sandwiches once every two weeks. In a country where breakfast and lunch are sandwich meals, we are considered.., well, at least odd….. ;o) Although there is just the three of us, full meals are as expensive as or cheaper than sandwich meals, and with more veggies, fruit and some kind of protein much more nourishing! Thank you for your inspiring meal plans!

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  10. says

    Hmmm; so there are other options. I think I’ll share this one with my mom, who like her mother did to her, sends us to school everyday with a lunch of a PB and J.

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  11. Wendy Hoff says

    I often make a big pot of some kind of soup that we eat for lunch every day all week with fresh veggies and fruit and salad. So thankful my kids are used to and ok with eating the same thing for several days in a row. And it’s so easy to warm up soup while doing school and all.

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  12. says

    I like your ideas for lunches. Thanks for sharing! I have been working on my lunch menu because I, too, feel deli meat is a more expensive option. I buy about a pound every week or two usually, and we only eat deli sandwiches once or twice a week. We eat nachos, chicken nuggets, peanut butter sandwiches, mac n cheese, quesadillas, and large salads in general.

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  13. Lori says

    My 4 year wants a bologna sandwich every day. I have started making her eat whole wheat bread every other day instead of white bread all the time. She is the pickiest eater, but my 1 year old eats anything I give her so I’ve been trying to give her more hot options especially soup since I love soup for lunch. I have been trying to get new ideas for lunch so I love to see your menu, it gives me ideas

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  14. Cynthia Parker says

    Love how you “let” your boys help with chores. :) My daughter, 36 years old now, still gets prickly when I say, “I am going to let you….(fill in the blank)”. She asked me why I say “let” like it is some kind of special honor and I really had to think for a moment, but I slowly remembered that “let” is EXACTLY what my mother used to say to me!

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