Lunch can get boring. It’s not as decadent or hopeful as breakfast, or as comforting as dinner. It’s by far the most random meal. It’s easy to fall back on unhealthy options from home or eating out more frequently than you’d like to admit. Not only that, as your waist gets larger your wallet gets thinner! A study conducted by Visa found that the average American spends $50 per week on food, which quickly adds up… to about $3000 per year. Here are some creative ideas for spending less on your work lunches!
Buy in bulk!
Try to buy in bulk as much as possible! Look for products that offer discounts if you buy more than one, or that get much cheaper as the quantity increases.
Buying produce in-season in-region is so important. It’s an easy way to save because you’re not subsidizing the cost of transportation. Buying product out-of-season means it will travel hundreds or thousands of miles before it finds its home on your plate, so it’s less fresh and in lower supply.
In-season Tips: bananas, celery and potatoes are always in-season. Buy extra at strategic times and freeze to enjoy year-round.
Try a pantry sweep!
A fun way to save money is to empty out your pantry: instead of buying tons of new groceries, use the contents of your pantry strategically and creatively. If your eating habits are anything like mine, there is probably tons of edible food in your pantry that may expire soon; I could eat it I just don’t really want to. Refusing to buy groceries until that food is gone is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and question the buying habits of your slightly younger self. If it’s food you’ll never eat then donate it to a food bank or throw it out; it’s just taking up space.
Start a lunch swap club!
A lunch swap club is an interesting, social way to both save money and eat healthier. Members of the club pay a weekly rate (around $30) to the lunch provider, and each week the lunch provider rotates. This allows for impeccable variety and the ease and efficiency of buying in bulk!
Prepare meals every Sunday!
Prepare the week’s meals each Sunday using the same groceries. For example, taco meat cooked on Sunday, along with a mere handful of other ingredients, could be used for burritos one day, chili the next (then taco pasta, sloppy joes, stuffed zucchini boats, grilled sandwiches, taco salad, the list goes on). Cooked meats can last for months in a freezer, and are staples in any variety of meals. Similarly, a few greens can be the staples in a week’s worth of varied meals. This will allow you to take full advantage of everything you buy, instead of throwing out and wasting half-used products. Sunday preparation also forces you to plan out your meals for the week; keeping to a schedule will help to eliminate the spontaneous lunch extravaganzas.