Ever look at the total amount of money you spend each month at restaurants and fast food? If you are not tracking that, I recommend you do. When I started tracking mine with Mint, I was amazed how much was actually spent on eating out for lunch.
For us, it averaged around $100 dollars a week just in lunch expenses! With this information in hand, we decided to come up with a plan to save money by packing lunch. Furthermore, we decided to make it an opportunity to eat a little healthier, and trim down on the waistline too. But the thought of having to pack lunch every day seemed like it was just going to be another chore.
While we liked the idea of saving money, we needed to find a lunch making plan that would work, and that we could stick to. Like many of you I am sure, we already have busy morning schedules trying to make sure we are ready for work and getting the kids ready for school.
But we found a happy medium and decided to pack lunch four days a week. We left one day as a treat to eat out and socialize with coworkers.
Here are my tips for some easy lunch preparation ideas.
Easy Lunch Preparation Tips
Come up with meals that are easy to make. Meals with long preparation times are not practical, especially if you are cooking on a weekday. Try to come up with meals that the entire family enjoys and that fit within your evening schedule.
Leftovers from dinner make great quick lunch options. Now to make this really work you have to plan ahead. The days you do not plan on eating out, cook meals with a few extra servings. Just as easy, and no extra time added to your evenings.
Prepare your next day lunch from the night before. It is much easier to prepare your lunchbox when you are not in a rush to get out the door. This makes preparing lunches more enjoyable.
Invest in Good Containers. I really like these glass meal prep containers from prep naturals. They are freezable, microwavable, cost effective in the long run, and better at keeping food from being mashed. Also they seem to be okay in the top rack of the dishwasher. The trick is to put the leftovers in the containers the night before and put in the fridge. Next morning, just grab and go.
Buy FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets and keep the food cold. Do you have issues with coworkers that raid the fridge at work? Or you just simply want to keep the food cold for optimal freshness, safety and taste. The FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets are awesome because you can cut them to your specifications. They tend to stay flexible even after they freeze, and they provide an optimal solution for people that work outside.
Buy snacks in bulk. If you like to have a snack after lunch then it is definitely cheaper to buy snacks in bulk from Amazon or your favorite warehouse store. Skip the vending machine at work, and be sure to take your snacks with you too.
So How Much Did We Save By Packing Lunch?
Well your amounts may differ based on where you work, and whether it's just you, or you and a spouse. But for us it broke down this way.
Making Lunches for Monday thru Thursday cost us about $40 ($20 per person).
Eating Out just on Fridays cost us around $20 per week.
Total spent now after packing, $60 a week.
That comes out to about $40 savings a week, which results in over $2000 dollars in savings a year in our family budget!