5 Tips to Help Save Lunch Money and Pack a Brown Bag

Buying lunch at work every day can get expensive. Even if you eat on the cheap ($8 per meal), you’re spending up to $40 per week, $160 per month, and $1,920 per year. Those dollars end up, and so do the calories that inevitably come with takeout meals. Packing a lunch allows you to save money and know exactly what is going into your midday meal, but somehow, many of the nation’s 9-to-5 workers still find themselves in takeout lines every day.

If you’re one of those people who would like to pack your lunch every day but still can’t say no to an appetizing meal out, check out these five tips for packing your lunch for work Monday through Friday and enjoying it, too. Packing a lunch can seem like a chore, but if you prep efficiently and put the right things in your lunchbox, it easily becomes routine, and you can allocate your hard-earned lunch money elsewhere.

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1. Prepare Food Ahead of Time

Many people promise themselves that they’ll pack their lunch for the week and then end up never going through with it. They feel too tired to prepare it Monday morning, have the midday blues by lunchtime, and then take out their emotions on their takeout. Avoid this slippery slope and prepare early. The best way to guarantee that you’ll pack your lunch and not “accidentally” leave it in the refrigerator is by preparing ahead of time and not letting yourself waste food.

On a weekend afternoon before your workweek, do some food prep and begin to prepare items for the week. Chop vegetables, boil pasta, bake chicken, and wash fruit. That way, all of your essential lunch staples are prepared and accounted for, and you can easily throw them into a brown bag or reusable lunch bag when need be. If you chop all of your veggies early and prepare your chicken, you’re much less likely to let that food go to waste, and you won’t be able to use the excuse that you just don’t have time to make all of your food in the morning. The key: Leave no room for excuses.