Whether you have a child who carries a lunch to school or you and or your husband work out of the house, September is a good time to update what you eat for lunch. Bringing lunch from home is good for you in so many ways. It will save money, keep you healthy and get or keep you trim.

Resist the urge to buy convenience-packaged foods or individual serving sizes. Packaging adds to your cost. Buy bulk and make your own “snack packs.” Good snack choices include almonds, walnuts, dried fruit, carrot sticks you peel and cut yourself, whole wheat crackers, celery with low-fat peanut butter, and fresh fruit.

If you buy a wide mouth thermos you can bring hot or cold foods for lunch. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

Fruit Salad

1 C fruit cocktail, drained
1 C chunk pineapple, drained
1 C mandarin oranges, drained
1 C sour cream
1 C rainbow miniature marshmallows

Place the fruit cocktail, pineapple chunks and oranges into a large mixing bowl.
Gently fold in the sour cream until all the fruit is covered.
Sprinkle in the marshmallows and stir until just combined.
Place in a pre chilled thermos.

This recipe serves six, so you can keep it airtight in the refrigerator and take it over several days.

Taco Soup

2 slices of bacon
1 (6 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 small onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
4 C chicken broth
2 C chicken breast, cooked and chopped
2 C taco salsa
1 tbsp taco seasoning

Place the bacon in a soup kettle over medium heat.
Cook the bacon crisp, 12 minutes, being sure to crumble the bacon as it cooks.
Place the mushrooms, onion and red pepper in with the crumbled bacon.
Pour the chicken broth in over the vegetables.
Carefully place the chopped chicken into the pot.
Stir in the taco salsa and taco seasoning well being sure all the ingredients are incorporated together.
Bring the mixture to a quick boil over high heat.
Turn the heat to low once boil, cover and cook 15 minutes.
Pour into a prepared thermos. Add a baggy of tortilla chips.

Serves 4

Tuna Salad

1 (8 oz) box large spiral pasta
1 (15 oz) can four bean mix, drained (use your favorites)
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 C sweet pickles, chopped
1 (7.5 oz) can tuna in water, drained and flaked
1/4 C mayonnaise
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp parsley, chopped fine

Cook the pasta as directed on the package.
Rinse under cold water and drain well.
Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl.
Add the four bean mix, quartered tomatoes and pickles.
Flake the tuna into the mixture.
In a separate bowl mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar and parsley until smooth.
Pour over the top of the pasta mixture.
Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients together being sure everything is completely covered with the mayonnaise mixture.
Place in a pre chilled thermos.

Serves 4