In my last post, I talked about bringing coffee and/or water with you on your commute to work, and how doing that can save you at least $500 a year. So how about packing lunch too?
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*Updated January 2017
Why you should pack your lunch
The deli across the street from where I used to work charged $8.00 for a sandwich. And that was for one of the least expensive items on the menu. And just for the sandwich. Getting a small bottle of iced tea was another $2.00. Ugh. It killed me every time I had to run over there if I forgot my lunch on the kitchen counter!
At $8/day for the sandwich alone, that would be $40 for a week. And get this – $2,000 if I bought a sandwich every work day! (excluding 2 weeks for vacation)
Two. Thousand. Dollars.
Yeah. I had to check my math on that three times because I didn’t believe it. I’ve seen CARS being sold for less than that! So basically, if you buy lunch every day at work, you are buying the equivalent of a used car every year.
The alternative to spending a fortune is to pack your own lunch
Is there a microwave in the break room at work? If so, your possibilities are endless. If not, you can still find a multitude of options. All you need is a bag – preferably an insulated one, a few plastic containers and utensils, and perhaps one of those little freezer packs to keep your lunch chilled.
TIP – Don’t throw those plastic utensils out after lunch! Wash them at work, or bring them home. The heavier plastic ones can go in the dishwasher.
At one of my jobs, I would carry my lunch in a kid’s metal Garfield lunch box – with matching Thermos. Yes, I was a real hit on the commuter train ride to the office.
What to pack
- leftovers from last night’s dinner (if you have microwave access) This was always my go-to for lunch. I have microwaveable plastic containers that have sections like a TV dinner, with a snap-on lid. Some days I would have a lunch like sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, a vegetable and some cranberry sauce!
- deli meat & cheese sandwich
- tuna sandwich
- soup (again if you can microwave it.) You can even just bring it in the can, and open that at work.
- cheese, vegetable sticks and crackers
- salad and put a little dressing in a small container (how to make your own Thousand Island dressing)
- yogurt (you can make your own yogurt for pennies!)
- and of course there’s always cookies or cake to add in there too!
Just think about how much you will be saving!
And while you’re thinking about bringing lunch…
How about breakfast as well?
(If you are like me and can’t eat first thing in the morning, or don’t have time.) Those bacon, egg and cheese on a hard roll add up too!
I used to pack pancakes and bacon, with a little container of maple syrup in my Garfield lunch box to have for breakfast at the office. My co-workers used to go nuts when I microwaved that! They’d all come back to the break room because the smell of bacon would drift out to the work area.
TIP – pancakes freeze well, so make a big batch on the weekend and freeze them. Frozen pancakes come apart very easily, so just pop them in a container with some pats of butter in between each one. By the time you get to work, they will be thawed. And cook a pound of bacon, and keep the slices in the fridge wrapped in paper towel, then in a plastic bag. Pack a few slices with your pancakes, and watch everybody at work freak out. Don’t forget the maple syrup!
Other breakfast options are hot cereal (if you have a microwave). Or put dry cereal in a container and bring milk in a small bottle or jar. You could toast a bagel, add butter and cream cheese and wrap it in foil. It may not be hot and toasty, but it beats paying for one at the food truck or deli! Or maybe bring some homemade cornbread?
How much would you save every year if you packed your lunch?
What about if you packed lunch, breakfast, AND beverage?
Let me know in the comments below! I would love to know.