You could be wasting $2,500 per year. That’s enough for a trip to Disneyland.
Exact savings will depend on how much you usually spend on lunch, but there’s no denying the fact that eating lunch out every day is a big fucking waste of money.
1. Freeze batches of individually wrapped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
To keep them from going soggy make sure that you spread peanut butter on both pieces of bread, then jelly in between. Cover with saran wrap then store in the freezer for up to two weeks. It’s also a good idea to use a Sharpie to label your bag so you don’t forget how long it has been sitting in the freezer.
2. Burritos can also be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer.
Tortillas, beans, and cheese, baby. Instant supply of burrito lunches!
But burritos and PBJs aren’t the only food items that can be prepared ahead and frozen. They just happen to be the two most convenient, IMO.
3. Order an extra large next time you get pizza.
It’s usually only a couple of bucks more to get large or extra large, and you’ll have lunch for the next couple of days.
Hey, just because you’re saving money on lunch doesn’t mean those lunches always have to be super healthy!
4. If you miss getting fresh air when you eat your lunch in the office, try taking a walk before or after lunchtime.
Find a time that works with your schedule and go get yourself some fresh air!
5. Make batches of soup just for lunches.
Soups are perfect for lunches. You can make a pot of soup ahead of time and freeze individual servings in Ziploc sandwich bags.
6. Think about foods that can be eaten cold and don’t require much additional attention at work.
No one wants to spend 10 minutes in the office kitchen assembling a meal. Even waiting for a microwave can seem like a hassle on a busy day. So make sure to include easy meals that can be eaten cold in your lunch rotation. Green salads, sandwiches, and even pasta salads are all great options!
7. Dedicate time on Sundays to do lunch prep work for the week.
The more you can get done over the weekend the less you’ll have to worry about during the week.
Sundays are a good time to do grocery shopping for the week and to make either PBJs, burritos, or a batch of soups to freeze. You could also peel and slice carrot sticks, or bag up stacks of crackers to accompany your soups, etc.
8. If you’re planning to take leftovers in for lunch the following day, then store those leftovers in Tupperware when you’re cleaning up from dinner.
It’s better to pack your lunch after dinner, when you have plenty of time, as opposed to the morning when you’re more likely to be in a rush.
9. Set an alarm on your phone so that you don’t forget about lunch and leave home without it.
It sucks putting in the effort to prepare lunch one evening only to forget about it the next morning. So set an alarm on your phone for a few minutes before you usually leave to remind you to grab your lunch.
10. Encourage other co-workers to participate in mini potlucks.
Maybe you bring in extra food every Wednesday and they do the same on Thursdays? It won’t take either of you that much extra effort to make a second lunch on that day, but you’ll find it super convenient on days you don’t have to worry about lunch.
11. Repurpose leftovers to keep things exciting.
Tacos for dinner? Repurpose the ingredients as a taco salad or super nachos for lunch the following day.
12. Don’t be afraid to dehydrate.
Dehydrated fruits are healthy and easy to transport. It can take a little time for the fruit to actually dehydrate, but if you start a batch on Saturday morning, and bag Sunday night before bed, then you’ll have fruit to snack on all week.
13. Stock up on frozen meals when they go on sale, but don’t count on them for a filling meal.
If you shop sales and score the occasional coupon, then you can get pretty good deals on Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine meals (like 5 for $10, or better). But don’t rely on these somewhat smallish frozen meals for a filling lunch. Make sure that you pack an extra piece of fruit or some celery and peanut butter, otherwise you’ll find yourself hungry and en route to Starbucks for a snack before the day is over.
14. Store packets of condiments and sauces that don’t require refrigeration in your desk.
That way if you accidentally forget to put mustard on your sandwich you won’t have to make an emergency run to Walgreens.
You could also get a handy keychain-sized bottle of Sriracha so that you’ll never be without quality hot sauce.
15. Allow yourself the occasional lunch out.
Because no one’s perfect, and it’s never good setting yourself up for failure. Inevitably there’s going to be a day you oversleep or a going-away lunch that you’ll want to attend. Don’t sweat it. Allow yourself to splurge every now and then.