Cost benefits of bringing your lunch
Packing a lunch isn't just for kids. In fact, it's a very adult money saving strategy. Although dining out for lunch during the work day may feel habitual or be a positive point during your day, there are other ways to enjoy the lunch hour. You can still socialize, take a walk, and enjoy a meal with coworkers without spending money multiple times a week. In fact, the average American spends about $3,000 a year on dining out. Now, think about how many times on average you eat out for lunch and instead imagine that amount sitting in your savings account. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
Health benefits of packing your lunch
Watching your carbs or calories? How about sodium? Have you taken a look at the nutritional value of some take-out food? It just might scare you. Most of those options are often processed and over-sized portions. The average restaurant lunch has a whopping 827 calories.
Bringing your own lunch allows you to make healthier choices. Grocery stores offer more organic and healthy options so you can load up your lunch box and eat healthier at both work and home.
Beyond the brown bag
If you're not sure how to make the homemade lunch feel less "brown bagged," try a different method. With a little planning, you can prepare a healthy and delicious meal to-go. Nowadays, there are countless ways to pack a fun lunch. With the help from blogs, Pinterest, cooking sites and even your friends, you can think beyond the brown bag.
- Meal Prep – Try preparing multiple meals in one cooking session. For instance, if you make one big batch of stir fry, you can eat that for lunch a couple times during the week. You'll have lunch ready to grab-and-go, making the weekdays a little easier.
- Lunch Swap – Team up with a friend at work and plan to prepare meals, then trade! If you discuss preferences and eating habits ahead of time, you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised by a lunch that is prepared for you. And vice versa! Also, you can show off your cooking skills.
- Mix It Up – Pick a theme each week and challenge yourself to cook in that category. For instance, you could decide to "travel the world" in a month and try traditional foods from various countries. This way, your meals won't fall into a boring routine, and you might learn some cooking skills along the way.
What about coffee?
It’s easy to grab that cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop every morning. And maybe you even grab another one later in the day. That coffee might be costing you about $1,500 a year. Why not mix it up and save a little money. Many coffee shops now sell their own bags of beans or ground coffee. You can still support local by purchasing the bagged coffee and taking it home and making your own cup of Joe in the mornings. Investing in a good coffee maker then making your own coffee before you leave for work might save you hundreds of dollars every year – Cha Ching.
Packing a lunch can be fun, especially if you think beyond a peanut butter and jelly. In addition to saving money, you might learn a new cooking skill, eat healthier food and socialize with different people at work. That's a win times four.
Next Tip: Set small goals to make big wins. If goals are hard to reach, they become unattainable. Try scaling them down to be bite-sized and easier to achieve.