Buying lunch everyday can get expensive. Packing a lunch can be challenging, but it does not have to be.
I’m sure that I am not alone in my lunch history. I decide to pack a lunch for the semester, but I get tired of the same PB&J sandwiches day after day, which leads to buying lunch. All that money adds up.
In a 2012 survey by Account Principles, 66 percent of working American’s reported that they buy lunch throughout the week. Younger workers, ages 18-34, spend an average of $44.78 per week compared to those 45 and older who spend an average of $31.80.
All of those purchased lunches add up to almost $2,000 a year. Depending on what you bring from home, you could save about $60 per month, which is a savings of about $720 a year.
There are microwaves in many of the buildings around campus, which opens up more options for warm meals. Walmart, Amazon and other companies have lunch boxes and ice packs to fit your style and budget. These places also have a variety of containers to make it even easier.
The key to successfully avoiding buying lunch is to pack things that you will actually want to eat. If you bring something that is boring, you will not want to eat it and will be tempted to buy something instead.
Leftovers are a great option for lunches. While preparing for and making dinners, plan to make enough to bring the next day. It is not very expensive and is pretty easy to whip up a little bit extra. Then all you need to do is pop it in a microwave and you are set.
Try jazzing up your sandwiches. Combine different lunchmeats and veggies to give each day a variety. If you are worried about soggy bread, put your sandwich fillings in separate bags then put it together just before you eat it.
Tortillas, flatbread, pita pockets or even lettuce wraps instead of bread can add some diversity to sandwiches. Once you start changing up what you put in and around a sandwich, there are almost countless options.
Bring an assortment of things from each of the food pyramid categories. Baby carrots, apples, oranges, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables travel easily and nicely. Crackers, tortillas, bagels and other grains are simple to pack.
Salads are also a good option for lunch. There are a lot of choices for what you can include in them, which gives a nice variety for each day. Some ideas include sunflower seeds, chicken, raspberries, vinaigrettes and many others.
Many brands of soup have a microwave safe bowl or cup that can be easily transported. Other cans have pop top lids so you do not have to carry around a can opener. Once opened, these soups can be put into a container to be heated.
There are also a variety of “just add water and heat” meals that are cheap and easy. A few examples include: Kraft macaroni and cheese, Simply Asia noodles, Hamburger Helper and more.
When you go grocery shopping for lunches, get enough items so that you can have something different each day. Your taste buds will appreciate the diversity, and you will be less likely to get bored of your packed lunches.
If you want more lunch ideas, the Internet, especially Pinterest, is a great resource.