Nutrition message

My December Bring-lunch-to-work Challenge

Let’s face it, buying lunch is getting increasingly expensive – we all know that. It seems a few years ago, a regular lunch from downtown Boston area can be around $6, but nowadays, I can rarely find anything below $8. So bringing lunch to work is not only a nutrition issue anymore, it became more a financial decision.

Say there are 20 days we go to work every week, and we spend $10 eating out every day (lunch and beverages) , then that is $200 per month. However, bringing lunch can be much cheaper, costing $3 on average per day. If we can make lunch for 16 days and allow ourselves to eat out only 1 day a week, the total cost is $3 x 16 + $10 x 4 = $88.

The saving per month is … $200 – $88 = $122 !!

And every year, the saving is $122 x 12 = $1464 !!

Seeing that we can save almost $1500 just by bringing lunch to work, don’t you suddenly feel super motivated? That can be a nice mini vacation for us. I am super excited after plugging the numbers in and decided to pack lunches to earn some time on the beach…

Chaise lounge and umbrella on sand beach.

So what are the hurdles for bringing lunch to work?  Unfortunately there are a few. And let’s look how we can deal with them:

First is that you have to prepare them ahead of time – during the weekend, the night before, or even during the morning. My experience is that cooking a batch on Sunday afternoon works the best for me, as I can plan out the portions and pack them nicely. Packing the night before usually means you will bring the leftovers from dinner, and that makes you eat the same food for 2 days in a roll. Packing in the morning is usually a nightmare and always make me late for work. So I usually reserve Sunday afternoon for lunch cooking and packing and it usually saves me so much time during the following week.

Secondly, where do you store the food during the day? We have a cafeteria and a fridge at work , so it is easy for me. When I bring sandwiches, they can stay in my lunch bag for the morning. If you don’t have access to a fridge at work, a insulated lunch box would be a good investment.

Another thing is, when you go buy lunch, you have an option to buy a drink. But if you bring lunch, you have to figure out your beverage by yourself. Cafeterias in workplace usually offer free coffee, tea or water. Otherwise, instant coffee or tea bags are good options at your desk.

In order to not taking out my purse at all for the entire day, I would like to pack food items for every eating occasions throughout the day:

  • Breakfast: yogurt, cereals
  • Lunch: dinner leftovers, vegetable cups, and fruits
  • PM snack: clementines/apple
  • Beverages: milk tea (black tea mixed with fresh milk)
image
Vege&fruit mix cup I bring to work today. So refreshing!

You can imagine that my lunch back is usually very heavy in the morning. The good thing is on the way back it is usually completely empty.

The challenge I gave myself is that I will bring lunch for at least 16 times in Dec. So far I have brought 3 lunches and eaten out twice. (Okay it is a bumpy start…) So for the rest of the month, I have only 2 days left that I am allowed to eat out. On my next post I will report back my progress and present the lunches I have packed to work. You are also welcome to comment about your favorite packed lunch. Now wish me luck, and see you all next time!

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