Did you know that spending $10 to buy lunch at work each day will cost you $2,600 a year? And if you spend $20 each day, well … that number doubles! That’s a lot of money that could be better spent toward a vacation, a luxury purchase you’ve been dreaming of, paying down existing debts or just sitting in an investment fund or savings account. Here’s how to save on workplace lunches by brown-bagging it and beyond.
Check out your workplace kitchen
If you’ve been buying your lunch every day, you may not even know what space and appliances are available to you in the office kitchen. Check out what your workplace provides for its employees in the way of food storage and prep so you can be better prepared when planning and packing your lunches. Is there a microwave, toaster or another appliance at the office? Do you have access to cabinet space and/or a fridge? Are there spice packets and condiments for the taking?
Love those leftovers
Don’t just use the bit of leftover dinner proteins to add to your work lunch salads; cook dinner with the next day’s lunch in mind. Add a bit of extra protein to your entree, and then slice it or shred it for your workday sandwich or salad. If you’re cooking up pasta, set some aside to take to work the next day before you add any sauces or cheese. Homemade pizza is great the next day, too. Pack some condiments, cheese and your favorite salad add-ons to add life to your leftovers at work.
Mason jars are the perfect food storage solution, and they’re pretty, too! Pack a tight salad, layered meal or anything at all in small Mason jars and it’ll stay fresh for several days in your home or work fridge. Jarring your lunch is a great solution for the employee who finds it challenging to carve out time for lunch prep each evening or morning. All you need is one marathon food prep session over the weekend, and you’ll be set for the week.
If your office provides freezer space for its employees, you may want to load up on some frozen meal options. You can find some delicious and healthful frozen lunches at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other grocery stores. Keep them at work for those days when you didn’t plan ahead for lunch but don’t want to blow a twenty on takeout.
Partner up with a colleague
If you still want to spring for takeout at work, consider partnering up with a friend to bring down the price. You can split a lunch special, share a personal pie or even take turns sponsoring a lunch so you don’t have to pay for your meal each day.
Use these hacks to brown-bag it like a pro and save on workplace lunches.
Your Turn: How do you save on workplace lunches? Share your best hacks in the comments.