Pack Your Lunch and Save $$$

Pack Your Lunch and Save $$$

If you’re like the typical American, you spend $936 per year on prepared lunches at restaurants or stores (according to Forbes). And that’s if you only eat out for your midday meal twice per week. This means you can see a huge savings when you start packing your lunch.

So, what does this mean if you are in the 2.5 percent who eat lunch out every day? With an average cost of $8.50, you would spend $42.50 each week. According to Mona Meighan, author of What Are You Doing for Lunch, you can reduce your weekly lunch costs by 80 percent when you bring your own. Packing your own lunch would cut the cost to only $8.50 – the cost of just one meal! In one year, you could save over $1,700.

Besides the financial savings, there are also health benefits to preparing your own lunches. When you make your own, you can control the ingredients. Plus, studies show that we make poor food choices when we are hungry, usually choosing high-calorie, fatty meals.

Still, it’s hard to beat the convenience of prepared meals. So, how can you save time with your brown bag lunch plan? Make a menu and choose easy to prepare foods.

Start with your weekly menu. Make an overall food plan for the week that includes dinners. That way, you can plan for leftovers that will double as lunches. By cooking once for dinner, you’ll save yourself quite a bit of time. You’ll also keep things interesting by not having the same lunch every day. Soups and casseroles both make great leftover options for lunch.

Then, fill in with lunches that are easily made. Sandwiches are a lunchtime staple, but you don’t have to saddle yourself to peanut butter and jelly (though it is inexpensive). Try variations of cold cuts, cheese, and veggies. Or skip the bread altogether and switch to wraps. Still too many carbs? Salads offer endless variation (just don’t forget the protein – whether it’s from meat, cheese, nuts, or beans).

Need some lunch inspiration? Check out these Easy Lunches: 5 Days, 5 Ways.