Friday, September 12, 2008

Packing a Lunch

At my last two places of employment I've had to bring a lunch with me because there is not usually an alternative. Its been a great experience for me. It's got me all ready and trained to take this good habit to my next job. Taking a lunch isn't always the easiest option but with some planning ahead it can be healthier, cheaper and less stressful than grabbing something locally to eat.

Bf and I always take at least once grocery shop a week. I like to eat a lot of fresh produce and so we don't mind taking the odd stop in to pick up a few things. One thing that is manditory is if its a Sunday night and there is no "lunch stuff". That never flies in this house. We will go to the store Sunday night no matter what to make sure there are lunch alternatives in the house before the busy work week begins.

BF usually goes home for lunch so he buys lunch meat (well not lately with the Lysteria scare) and makes a sandwich. I on the other hand have to bring a lunch so I purchase fresh fruit, snacks and a case of soda. I pack a lunch with variety.

Usually I start with what I'm going to eat as the main lunch. This is usually a left over meal in tupperware. Then I add a drink for lunch, usually a soda. Then I pack a little something to "compliment" the lunch like a small bag of chips (I divide a big back of chips ($1) into plastic bags). I'll also pack at least two pieces of fruit and then a granola bar or some rice cakes. Add a water bottle and you're all set. I like to work physical labour jobs so I have to make sure I eat well through out the day. When I've worked office jobs I usually take a bit of a smaller lunch because I wasn't as hungry.

If you want to start packing a lunch every day you'll definitely want to purchase some good quality plastic wear to bring things in. I use really small plastic ware for things like yoghurt, dressing or snacks. It's good to have a variety of sizes.

Another good tip is to always put something in your lunch you really enjoy. It's not good to pack yourself a lunch and then be bored with it, toss it and get something else at the cafeteria. Don't force yourself to eat things or you'll cheat or stop packing a lunch because it will bore your taste buds.

A big one is pack your lunch the night before. If you really want to get organized you can divide things up into plastic baggies and plastic wear right after grocery shopping so you're all set up for snacks and things for the whole week.

Packing a lunch is great. You don't have to wait around in a line up(unless its for the microwave ;-)). You get to monitor what you are eating more closely. You can encourage other people to bring a lunch and then socialize and get to know them better. Best of all... it saves you $$$.

On a day to day basis I usually carry a granola bar, water bottle and sometimes an apple in my purse/bag though out the day. That way if I'm out and I'm hungry but don't want to spend a bunch of cash I can just grab something I already have on me.

Remember all the little bits of spending here and there add up so try packing a lunch to save some dough!

Lunch Ideas

Chips - Buy a bag and divide it up into smaller lunch bags
Yoghurt - Use plastic wear instead of buying individual yoghurt that is more expense
Almonds - Good for you and very easy to snack on
Flavored Rice Cakes - Love these babies
Granola Bars - These will cut the mid morning hunger and there are a ton of varieties out there
Soda - If you buy a soda a day at $1 that's $5/wk, buy a case of 12 at $4 then you'll pay $1.25/wk. Now times that by a year.

The bottom line is buy bulk or at least buy bigger portions and divide them up. The savings are worth it!

If you still need some convincing... you could always "invest" in a really cute lunch bag.


LeighAnn said...

That was excellent advice. Now all I need is the job!

The labor intensive job must be exhausting!!

Frugal Dreamer said...

Great post! :) I use a lot of the same ideas myself.

When i'm at the store i always find i am battling with myself over soda. I never want to buy a case, but then i will find myself buying a couple throughout the week.

This well i am going to buy a case - it only makes sense! :)

Shevy said...

Good advice! A couple of other bloggers have been encouraging me to take my lunch more (the days I'm in the office full time) and I have started doing some of what you suggest for DC now that she's in full day kindergarten, but I haven't really applied it to myself.

Arual said...

I like to bring a pack of instant oatmeal too in my lunch. Just pour into a mug, add a little boiling water, stir and voila! Instant fill-me-up! Perfect for the 10 am or 3 pm wall :)
Great post :)