Going out for lunch may seem like a small expense until you add up the cost of doing it every day, week, or month. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average household spends $3,000 annually on eating out.A If you are spending about $10 on each meal, even cutting back to going out to lunch a few times a week can make a big difference.
Of course, you don’t always have a lot of time between your job, kids, and other responsibilities to add packing lunch to your list. But there are ways to make bringing your lunch to work simple and more efficient.
Here are six ideas for packing lunch that can make it easier for your busy schedule:
If you want to learn more about saving money on food and other products, read our True Story: I Was An Extreme Couponer, to learn how to get started with couponing.
1. Slot Time on Sunday for Lunch Prep
There’s more time on the weekend to do things like preparing your lunch for the week. Set aside some time to do all the grocery shopping and prep work. Cut up celery sticks, bag some pretzels, prepare a big salad, portion out a pasta meal, etc. The idea is to have all your food prepared and in containers so that all you have to do is grab it on your way out the door.
2. Leftovers Equal Lunch
When you have food left over from dinner, it can be turned into your lunch for the next day. Get it packed up when cleaning up after dinner. That way it’s already packed and ready for you in the morning.
3. Make Food That’s Easy to Freeze
Cooking big batches of food that you can freeze can save you time and allow you to store food for weeks. You can freeze almost anything you want – meats, veggies, burritos, soups and much more. There are also many food bloggers and websites that have great freezer food recipes you can try.
4. Consider Food That Doesn’t Need to Be Warm
Food that doesn’t need a microwave is usually both easier to prepare and takes less time to assemble to eat. For example, you could take some bread, cheese, and sliced meat with you to work for sandwiches for lunch. Other great options are chilled pasta and green salads.
5. Stock up on Frozen Meals
Smart Ones, Stouffers, Marie Callender’s, Lean Cuisine, and other frozen food makers have good deals periodically. You can take advantage of a sale or use coupons to maximize your savings. These frozen meals are a good option to have around when you don’t have time to cook something.
6. Get Containers Made for Lunch
Using the same containers that you use to store food at your home may not be ideal. You might have ill-sized containers to pack your lunch or they might all be in use storing leftovers from last night’s dinner. Consider investing in a set of lunch box containers that make packing lunch for work easier. You can use these containers exclusively for lunch and know that you always have what you need. Another benefit of using containers made for lunch is that many of them have compartments to separate fruit, veggies, and other foods. Some are also microwave-friendly, so you don’t need to look for a plate when you’re heating it up.
These changes will make packing your lunch easier and less time-consuming. How do you make packing your lunch easier? Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram to share your tips! Remember to find even more money saving tips and tricks on the School of ACE blog!
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