You're Wasting Money On Lunch — Here's How To Stop

While our parents made it seem easy with their perfect PB&Js (how did they cut off the crust so evenly, every time?!), packing lunches for ourselves as an adult has been a serious learning experience. Oftentimes we’d rather pick something up or order in to the office, but that gets expensive.

In an effort to inspire ourselves to pack a lunch more often, we made a list of some helpful tips we’ve picked up over the years. Ahead, find 10 useful ideas that will make you want to get packing for tomorrow’s lunch ASAP.

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Designed by Anna Sudit.
Plan For Leftovers & Pack Them Immediately
The next time you cook, plan to make extra so that you’ll have leftovers for multiple lunches. Then, make sure you pack them into individual containers that are ready to take to work as soon as you finish dinner. This way you won’t have to deal with it in the morning, and bringing your lunch suddenly becomes as easy as remembering to grab it out of the fridge before leaving. And since even that can be a struggle sometimes, we’ve got a solution: A strategically placed Post-It can work wonders for actually taking your lunch with you.
Designed by Anna Sudit.
Find a Lunch-Packing Buddy
You already eat with your work wife/husband everyday, so why not split up the grunt work? Switch off days that you’ll pack two lunches (one for you and one for your buddy) and then on your off days, your friend will bring an extra for you. This way you still save money by making homemade lunches, but you’re not responsible for preparing them every day of the week.
Designed by Anna Sudit.
Keep A Loaf Of Bread At Work
Nothing is worse than waking up early to make yourself a lunch, only to find that when you go to eat it, your sandwich is totally soggy and gross. Avoid this by packing the sandwich ingredients in a sealable baggie and keeping a loaf of bread in your desk drawer. Then assemble everything at lunch. You can even make a week’s worth of the sandwich baggies on Sunday night and then you’ll have everything ready to go for the whole week!
Designed by Anna Sudit.
Make A Salad In A Jar
This might seem like a Pinterest gimmick, but packing your salad in a jar actually works! If you layer the dressing on the bottom, ingredients that won’t wilt over that, and greens at the top (see here for tips), you’ll have the perfect salad/vessel to eat it from. Basically, you won't have to deal with an extra container for dressing that will inevitably explode all over your brand new outfit. If you don’t have a giant Mason jar, putting a paper towel over your greens to keep them crisp (dress right before eating) also works.
Designed by Anna Sudit.
Compartmentalize Snacks In Advance
Packing a lunch in the morning can be super stressful and never feels worth it when the other option is hitting your snooze button. However, if you do some simple prep work over the weekend, it becomes much easier. On Sunday night organize baggies, plastic containers, or jars with all of your snacks for the week. Then you’ll have perfectly portioned pretzels, chips, and fruit that you can easily add to your bag. You can even set up a snack station on the counter or in the fridge so everything stays in one place and is easy to grab.
Designed by Anna Sudit.
Keep Essentials At Your Desk
We already talked about why bread is great for sandwiches, but if you’ve got an extra desk drawer, we suggest keeping a few pantry items in there, too. Things like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, hot sauce, peanut butter, and even emergency snacks like bags of almonds, can do wonders for a packed lunch. Plus, if you’ve got bread and PB, you can throw together a simple sandwich in a pinch.
Designed by Anna Sudit.
Pick A Day To Treat Yourself
We can wax poetic about packing lunches all day — they help us save money, they’re usually healthier than ordering, etc., but we’re only human. And after a week of sandwiches or leftovers, by Friday we’re SUPER jealous of our cubicle neighbor’s takeout. To avoid the inevitable week — after a good run of homemade meals — where we go crazy and order expensive sushi on Seamless everyday, pick a day to treat yourself. Once a week get whatever the thing is you’ve been craving that you can’t pack yourself. And then go back to packing lunch the next day.
Designed by Anna Sudit.
Invest In The Right Equipment
In order to turn packing a lunch into a habit, you have to want to do it. This might seem crazy, but investing in a few cute storage containers or a nice lunch bag can make all the difference. We recommend finding a bag that you can use on the regular — something that doesn’t leak — getting a few different sized Tupperware containers, and a large box of Ziplock bags. And if you don’t want to splurge on something fancy, saving old Talenti containers, hummus containers, or Mason jars works, too. This way, you’ll be prepared the next time you decide to bring your lunch.
Designed by Sydney Hass.
Buy Prepackaged Snacks
Normally we like to avoid buying foods that have been prepared in advance because they’re more expensive. But, when it comes to packing lunches, we find it’s okay to cheat because it’s still cheaper than ordering food. The next time you’re at the supermarket check out some of the prepackaged snacks that are marketed to children. There are often healthy versions of the fun stuff we remember as kids (like individual chip bags, squeezable yogurt, and veggies and dip.) Keeping ready-to-go snacks around will seriously help when you’re in a bind, plus it’s always nice to have easy things to munch on at home.
Pack A Frozen Water Bottle
Using the office fridge has some serious risks — haven’t we all encountered the company lunch thief or had a Tupperware disaster due to overcrowding? Here’s how to easily avoid all that: Just pack a frozen water bottle in your bag and the ice will keep your lunch cool at your desk. Plus, your food will stay cool no matter how hot it is during your morning commute, and you’ll have a cold drink by the time lunch rolls around. This would work with any drink, even smoothies!
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