Judging by the contents of the communal fridge in my office, everyone’s packing their lunch to save a few dollars and avoid going out in the cold. Packing a lunch seems like an easy way to save money, but after a few weeks of the daily grind, it’s hard not to succumb to the lure of nearby restaurants. Here are a few tips on bringing food to the office to save money:
Bring a week’s worth of lunches to the office.
Now, this only works if you have access to a fridge, but every Monday I like to bring enough food to the office that will allow me to make lunches for the week. This eliminates the need to make and pack a lunch every day at home. What are some ideas?
- The basic sandwich: buns, sliced meat, cheese, a bell pepper, a cucumber, and Dijon mustard.
- The tasty pita: pita bread, cream cheese, sliced cucumber.
- The soup and side: cans of soup (or homemade in a Tupperware!), crackers, and cheese.
- The couscous salad: couscous (all you need is boiling water to cook it), diced feta cheese, diced veggies of your choice (bell pepper, cucumber, tomato), and some dressing (I suggest a mini bottle of balsamic vinegar).
Stock up on some snacks, strategically.
When the 2 pm work blues hit, and you just want something (anything!) to eat, the lure of the nearest coffee shop can be strong. Resist temptation by keeping snacks at your desk. The best snack is something you enjoy eating, but aren’t interested in eating when you’re not hungry. For example, I couldn’t keep chocolate chip cookies at my desk; I would eat the entire box in a day and be very happy doing it. That would not save me money! Here are some snacks that might work for you:
- Bananas: I swear this is the only fruit that actually fills me up.
- Apples and almond butter: slice apples and dip, very tasty.
- Granola bars: there are endless flavours out there; surely you’ll find one you moderately enjoy.
- Yoghurt and granola: I keep a big container of plain yoghurt in the fridge and granola at my desk, a bowl of this mid-afternoon will keep you happy for a while.
- Baby carrots and hummus: our grocery store sells packs of hummus in single-serving containers, which is perfect when paired with baby carrots.
Be realistic about your hunger.
In my ideal world I have the meal schedule of a toddler. I’m happiest if I get a morning and afternoon snack and a lunch. But sometimes I forget this and don’t pack the right kind of foods to get me through the day. And what does that lead to? Buying a donut. And probably a coffee since I’m there anyway. Those trips really add up. But maybe this isn’t you. Maybe you need a big lunch with lots of protein, or a late lunch because you’re never hungry in the morning. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and pack your food accordingly.