Brownbag 911!!(And free coffee)


My mac & cheese(Smore brownies in back)!

My mac & cheese(S'more brownies in back)!


I’m so glad some of you tried the mac & cheese recipe over the weekend…this review in from Sandy: 

Tried that mac and cheese this weekend. It was oh so very creamy! I liked it but it was a bit sharp for my familiy’s taste. I think next time I will swap out a bag (or 2) of the sharp cheddar with regular cheddar. But the consistency was lovely and it was even better the second day for leftovers. Be prepared and mix in a big bowl because this makes alot! Thanks for the recipe.” 


She’s right…it makes a gi-normous dish of mac & cheese….But I digress….the lovely Jennifer(my sons fiance) who sent the Mac and Cheese recipe to me, along with the “Osculator” for running an Oscar pool, sent me a brown bag 911 email today….her company recently  moved from Manhattan, where she lives, to New Jersey…to save money on rent, naturally. And while Jen is very grateful to have a job, you also have to acknowledge a loss…and the challenges involved…and move on….here’s part of what she wrote:  


 “ I have gone from an office to a cubicle, and the only places to grab lunch are Subway and Au Bon Pain!  Dont worry, I did not write you to depress you, I wrote you because I need help.  I need lunch packing ideas that are healthy and recession worthy. XOXO

Jenny in Jersey” 

Reporter Tim Tootens brown bag luinch-so healthy!

Reporter Tim Tooten's brown bag luinch-so healthy!

That girl is funny….and be honest…if you head over to Subway every day, you’ll easily spend $40-$50 bucks a week! Since Jen is really learning  her way around a kitchen…she and my son cook most nights, why not plan ahead? So I put it to readers….any ideas on delicious, healthy, and recession worthy brown bag ideas to carry from home? I’ll go first: Here’s mine….  

Whenever I find red peppers on sale(every few weeks or so they can be found for $1.99 a pound, sometimes only $.99!)…I buy lots and roast them in the oven. How? Wash and core the peppers, cut them into quarters. Toss with olive oil and salt, place a single layer on cookie sheet, bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Sometimes I flip them over and give them another 5-10 minutes…they should have a little charing on the edges. You can freeze them or just store in frig. They elevate any sandwich to gourmet category. And on cheesy scrambled eggs(also a cheap great dinner)? Fugeddaboudit.  

Back to my lunch suggestion….roast a whole chicken on the weekend, Jen…you won’t eat it all…take the leftovers off the bone and refrigerate. Your sandwich: on whole wheat bread(you said healthy)…put roasted chicken, provolone cheese(or chevre?), and roasted peppers, with a little dijon mustard. Cheap, delicious, and healthy. Ideas, people, ideas?? And here’s the carrot…the person with the best brown bag lunch idea…(I’ll let Jen decide), will win a $25 Starbucks gift card. No strings attached. I’ll just mail it to you. How’s that for easy coffee?       



And Jen, let me tell you, working here on tv hill, I know all about having nothing around you….there is nothing here within walking distance…if you want lunch, you either go out and get it or bring it from home, like Tim Tooten. No Starbucks around the corner either. When I think about it…that also probably saves me loads of money!



6 Responses

  1. Ok, here are some ideas:
    – roast vegetables (cubed eggplant, zucchini, peppers, red onions, asparagus, etc – whatever you like) in the oven until soft (just drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper). Then use the veggies in:
    – sandwiches on a rosemary roll with a slice of sharp cheese
    – mixed with couscous (takes only a couple of minutes to prepare) and drizzle with a balsamic vinegratte for a quick salad
    – as a side for any kind of meat
    – over pasta with sauce
    Best wishes.

  2. Oooooh, Gabrielle, quick out of the gate with some, I must say, savvy and yummy sounding ideas. Like it….good start!

  3. I work in Timonium but hate to go out for lunch because it’s so expensive and crowded, so I have a few tips for packing a lunch. Whenever I see grapes on sale or go to Sam’s Club, I buy a ton of them. I freeze them in individual snack bags that way I can grab a serving at a time, plus it helps keep your lunch cool. I also this with red peppers, fruit and fresh veggies, just slice, bag and freeze, bring along some dip (if you want) and you have an easy afternoon snack.

  4. I take leftovers for lunch. What ever I make for dinner is lunch the next few times that I work! I freeze the leftovers in the re-useable, serving size Glad/Rubbermaid containers. Very good and cheap!

  5. I too have packed lunch for years, mostly to save alittle money. I like to buy medium size flour tortillas and make all kinds of wraps. Use anything, peanut butter and sliced apples with raisins and walnuts or just sliced chicken, swiss chees and lettuce. Also when I cook dinner I put an extra chicken breast in the oven, make extra vegetables and take the leftovers in a container to heat up. Add an apple and your good to go!

  6. In this crazy mixed up economy, we alllll need to brown bag it! This has been my latest fave: Italian Wedding Soup (meatless): Better Than Boullion in a large pot of water, Acini diPipi noodles, a bag of baby spinach, maybe some mushrooms tweaked with extra spices of your choice, OH MY! Takes 10 minutes, very yummy, last for days, and oh-so-cheap to throw together. Seared chicken breasts cut into cubes with grapes/craisins/almonds w/a bit o’ onion & mayo and you’ve got yourself a mighty fine meal! And dessert? How about this! Pillsbury GrandMuffins: use the top of a water bottle to cut donut holes. Fry (mmm!) in hot oil and shake in brown bags filled with cin. sugar/10x/or drizzle with a simple glaze, yum, yum, yum! 😉

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