Have you been spending too much money during the week on work lunches? Do you want to start bringing lunch to work to save money and eat healthier?
According to health.com, buying lunch five times per week could cost you around $2400 per year. Think of all the other things that extra money could do for you.
Spending less money and being able to save more money is not the only benefit of bringing lunch to work. Other benefits you could have when you pack a lunch for work every day are:
- Eat healthier
- Lose weight
- Feel more energetic and more productive at work
- Improve your feeling of well-being (less indigestion, bloating, etc.)
- Have more time to stay active by getting up and walking around
It isn’t hard to start bringing lunch to work every day. Once you have a system for getting your lunch ready and a few meals you enjoy eating, it will be super easy.
The hardest part will be remembering your utensils. That’s why you could keep a set of utensils at work if you forget them.
So here are the things you can do to make sure you pack a lunch for work every day so you don’t have to raid the vending machine.
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Tips for Bringing Lunch To Work Every Day
1. Decide Your Why
Figuring out why you want to start bringing lunch to work will help you stay motivated. I gave you some generic ideas above on the benefits of taking your lunch to work.
But you should decide on what your specific reasons or internal motivators are. Why do you, as an individual, want to start being more consistent with taking your lunch to work instead of buying takeout or going out to eat?
Maybe it’s because you want to save for an awesome family vacation. Maybe you are expecting a child and trying to pump money into a savings account to prepare for when you are on maternity leave.
Perhaps you would like to lose some weight or eat healthier to get other medical problems under control, like diabetes or high blood pressure.
I have two reasons I consistently pack a lunch for work every day. My first reason is that I am super frugal and prefer not to spend my money on prepared food if I don’t have to. I would rather save my money for awesome family vacations and experiences.
My second reason is that I don’t have time to order food or go out to eat at work. I get exactly 30 minutes to eat. If I want to eat, I have to take my lunch.
So decide on your own personal “why” and then set a goal for yourself of the number of times a week you would like to pack a lunch for work.
Goals are a huge internal motivator, whether financial goals, life goals, or just a simple little goal for packing your lunch for work.
Goals help you to get in the right mindset and help you set yourself up for success in all areas of life.
Helpful Tip: Write your “why” down and keep it with you at work so you can see it every day.
2. Be Prepared With Meal Prep Supplies
If you are planning to pack a lunch for work every day, you will need the appropriate supplies. The supplies you need will depend on your work environment and the kind of food you will be taking for lunch.
If you don’t have access to a microwave, you will need to take cold food items or buy one of these.
My husband does not have access to a microwave and was getting sick of sandwiches every day. We got him a thermos, and he loves it. So if we have leftover soup from dinner, he takes it for lunch.
Helpful Tip: Besides Amazon, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Ross are great places to look for discounted lunch supplies.
3. Plan Ahead
This is a given, but you will need to decide on the foods you want to eat for lunch. Remember to put these items on your grocery list so you don’t forget to buy them.
When we used to go to the grocery store for our groceries (we do Walmart Grocery Pickup now), we had a typed-up grocery list with just about everything on it we normally bought.
This helped us to remember all of our regular breakfast and lunch items that we always needed.
Helpful tip: Type up a master grocery list and put the food items in the order of your grocery store aisles to make it super quick to get through the store.
Just circle the items you need to buy when making your list for the week.
4. Keep Lunches Simple
The easier it is for you to prepare and pack up your lunch, the more likely it will be that you will continue bringing lunch to work.
I don’t like packing my lunch, so the quicker and easier it is, the better. I like to keep it super simple. I guess you could also say I am a boring lunch eater.
I’m not crazy about sandwiches, but I will take one if need be. My favorite lunch is oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg. I also enjoy cottage cheese and fruit for lunch.
I cook three servings of oatmeal (I buy the big canister of old-fashioned oats) ahead of time and add some peanut butter for extra protein, and strawberry preserves for sweetness.
Divide the oatmeal into three containers and throw them in the fridge. Take the lid off at work and microwave it for 1 minute, and it’s ready to eat. It’s so easy, not to mention delicious and healthy.
Helpful Tip: If you love hard-boiled eggs but hate the time it takes to boil them, try an InstantPot. We make a dozen hard-boiled eggs at a time in the InstantPot, and the shells can be peeled off so easily when cooked like that.
For more ideas on super simple lunch meal ideas, check out:
5. Prep Your Lunch for the Week All at Once
This is a huge timesaver. As I said, I make three servings of oatmeal for the week. The other two days, I take cottage cheese and fruit. I even measure out my cottage cheese ahead of time into my two servings for the week.
Then I grab and go.
If you are planning to take food that is more involved to prepare, consider cooking everything on Sunday and dividing it into food prep containers.
Helpful Tip: You could cook for two weeks at a time and freeze half of the food. Then pull it out of the freezer the following Sunday and divide it up for your lunch meals the second week.
6. Only Pack What You Enjoy Eating
Lunchtime is not the time to try new foods or force yourself to eat healthy foods you are not necessarily a fan of. What will you do if you don’t like what you brought or aren’t feeling it come lunchtime?
Maybe you would hit up the vending machines, cave into adding your name to the takeout order your coworkers are putting together, or possibly go out and get something that sounds tasty.
You will want to pack things for your lunch that you are excited to eat and food you enjoy. Lunchtime at work is a time to relax and refuel so you can get through the second half of your day and be happy and productive.
Helpful Tip: If you are taking something you never had before to work for your lunch, just be sure to pack a couple of other things you know you will enjoy eating.
7. Revive Leftovers for Your Lunch Meal
Do you usually have plenty of leftovers after dinner? If you want to start bringing lunch to work, start with your dinner leftovers. But try changing your leftovers to create something new for lunch to avoid boredom.
For example, if you have leftover ham, try ham salad with crackers or put it in a pita.
Leftover chicken? Try a chicken salad sandwich, BBQ chicken wrap, or slice it up to put on top of a salad.
Leftover steak? Try turning it into a steak quesadilla using a tortilla and shredded cheese.
Leftover fish? Put it in a soft taco shell with salsa, lettuce, and cheese.
The idea is to keep yourself from getting bored or tired of eating the same thing for lunch as you did for dinner the night before.
Helpful Tip: If you are taking leftovers, prepare them for your lunch the next day by putting them directly into your container before putting them in the fridge.
Check out this post if you would like some more ideas on how to change up your leftovers.
8. Keep a Backup Lunch at Work
If you have a fridge or freezer available at work, consider taking something to keep there as a backup in case you forget your lunch or if, for some reason, your lunch becomes inedible (like dropping your food container on the floor because you are in a hurry).
If you don’t have a fridge or freezer access, you could even keep a few things at work in your desk or a cabinet.
Some ideas are instant oatmeal packets, rice or noodle bowls that you add water to, and microwave and protein meal bars.
Plus, if you find yourself super hungry and without a snack, you have something available to eat.
Helpful Tip: Store some other necessities at work, if possible, to make it easier to enjoy your food while on the job. For example, keep a mug and spoon at work to make your instant oatmeal. You could also keep salt, pepper, or other special seasonings or condiments you like at work.
9. Pack a Dessert or Small Treat
As I said before, you want to look forward to eating what you take for lunch. Pack something you love to complete your meal when bringing lunch to work. Pudding, yogurt, a couple of cookies, a piece of chocolate, or your favorite fresh fruit are some ideas for you.
Helpful Tip: Don’t forget to pack some snacks for those mid-morning or afternoon munchies. You could take a box of granola bars, protein bars, or your snack of choice to keep at work so you have them when you get hungry.
10. Pack Up Most of Your Lunch the Night Before
Make sure you get everything ready that you possibly can the night before. This will help prevent you from forgetting things.
It will also ensure that you don’t skip out on bringing lunch to work because you were running late and didn’t have time to get everything ready.
Pack a lunch for work to the point where all you have to do is grab your lunch bag and throw in your refrigerated items and cold pack (if needed).
Make sure you put your utensils in your bag. Put your pretzels, chips, etc., into a bag or container and put them into your lunch bag the night before.
Helpful Tip: If you typically take pretzels, chips, crackers, almonds, etc., in your lunch for work, you could portion them out into bags or containers for the entire week all at one time to make packing your lunch even quicker.
11. Develop a Morning Routine
Get yourself into a routine when you enter your kitchen in the morning. Get your things ready for work in the same order every single morning.
This will help your time in the kitchen flow, be more efficient, and help you to remember everything.
Helpful Tip: Leave a note somewhere you will see it reminding you to take your lunch with you. Do this at least until taking your lunch becomes a habit. You could leave your note by your car keys, on the front door, by your coffee pot, etc.
Final Thoughts on Bringing Lunch to Work
If you want to try to change your spending and eating habits and start bringing lunch to work every day, there are many things you can do to help yourself succeed with it.
Things like having the right supplies, planning ahead, doing your prep work, and establishing a morning routine can go a long way to helping you reach your lunchtime goals.
Taking your lunch to work every single day does take some effort and planning. However, it will be worth it when you reach your personal goals, whether your goals are health or financial-related.
Also, it is nice to treat yourself and splurge once in a while! Don’t be hard on yourself if you abandon your packed lunch in favor of ordering out with your coworkers.
How do you stay motivated to take your lunch to work? Do you have any helpful tips or tricks to share? I would love to hear them! Please leave me a comment to let me know.