It can be really difficult to make food and think about making it when you’re caught up in the daily rush that is your job, but bringing your lunch to work can make a significant impact to your bottom line.
Think about it – if you go out to eat, the minimum spend is anywhere from $10 – $15 for a meal and a drink.
If you go out 5 times a week, that’s $50 – $75 being spent, or $200 – $300 a month. I am sure you can think of better things to do with $200 bucks than stuff your face with low quality junk food.
The bottom line is that you should at least be thinking about bringing your lunch for the majority of your work meals and going out to eat only as a special occasion with co-workers.
1. Meal Plan
The single most effective way to make sure you bring your lunches for the week is to be organized, and that includes meal planning. You have to know ahead of time what you want to make for each day so that when you go grocery shopping you have a list that tells you exactly how much you need to buy.
This also cuts down on waste because you aren’t buying more than what you need, and it lets you use the same ingredients across multiple meals so that you don’t end up with half an avocado, wondering what to do with it.
2. Buy all the ingredients ahead of time
Do all of your shopping on the weekend, either on Saturday or Sunday with your list of ingredients and make sure you have everything on hand.
This only works if you’ve planned your meals out! Otherwise, you will end up frustrated that you are missing half a lemon for your hummus.
3. Do as much of the prep work as early as possible
After you buy all your ingredients, set aside some time that day to prep your food as far as possible. This means washing all your vegetables and herbs, perhaps even chopping them ahead of time or marinating your meats so that they’re ready to be pulled out and cooked in a flash.
If everything is already prepped and ready to go in your fridge, it’s just a matter of pulling out the marinated chicken, throwing it in a pan, boiling some pasta on the side and mixing the vegetables together in a bowl for a quick salad. You could have a well-cooked meal in less than 20 minutes and pack the leftovers for your lunch the next day.
Alternatively, you could prepare all of your lunches ahead of time into separate Tupperware boxes and grab a box each day for your lunch.
4. Keep staples on hand
A good way to save time is to make sure that you always have basic vegetables on hand like onions or potatoes if you eat a lot of them. Other great things to stock your pantry with: rice, pasta, and flour. That way, even if you run out of food halfway through the week, you can still make a quick meal by chopping up a few potatoes, tossing them in the oven with some salt and pepper and eating it as a meal in a pinch.
5. Make extra food and eat the leftovers
When you cook food, cook for more than one meal so you can eat the leftovers as either your dinner or your lunch for the next day. You really don’t have the time to be making two individual meals a day, so why put yourself through that hassle?
6. Buy snacks
Finally, think about purchasing things that are easily transportable and easy to eat without utensils for snacks such as bananas, oranges, grapes, or apples. If you get sick of eating the same thing over and over again, pre-cut or peel your fruit ahead of time and make a fruit salad in individual Tupperware boxes to go so that you don’t need to cut up your fruit at work for your lunch.
Other great snack ideas are granola bars, yoghurt cups and anything that is easy to eat without requiring a fork, knife and spoon.
The bottom line is that although it might seem like a lot of work at the start to meal plan and shop ahead of time, after a while it becomes routine. You’ll wonder why you ever thought it was so difficult, and you will feel healthier (and perhaps slimmer!) while your bank account grows fatter.