Eating a nutritious lunch for work shouldn’t take a beating out of your food budget. Everyone occasionally eats out for lunch, but eating too many prepared lunches can cost you big bucks: According to a recent survey, two-thirds of Americans prefer to buy rather than bring their lunch – and spend a whopping $2,000 a year doing it! If you budget correctly, you can make lunch for a third of that cost.
Eating out can put a strain on your overall health, too. Portions can be larger than the ones you’d make at home and prepared food is often less healthy. Then there’s the taste factor: it’s hard to find delicious, nutritious cheap lunches that taste as good as what you can make at home.
With a little planning and preparation, you can make and take great lunches to work that will keep you energized throughout the afternoon.
Here are some tips and tricks — along with some links to recipes — that can help you make innovative, inexpensive lunches:
- If you like having a traditional sandwich for lunch, make sure the ingredients are both nutritious and inexpensive. Consider ditching high-cost items like prepared lunchmeat, for example, in favor of precooked chicken or turkey – it will taste better and be healthier for you.
- Salads are great, but they have to fill you up enough so you’re not getting the munchies mid-afternoon. Consider wrapping your veggies and proteins in a tortilla or other nutritious wrap.
- Make a little more dinner the night before and enjoy warm leftovers for lunch. This works best for meals like stir fry, soup, pasta, and other one-dish meals. Here is a week’s worth of thrifty suppers with leftover lunches.
- Consider bringing a healthy drink with you as well – you will stop feeding the soda machine for expensive drinks.
- Try some of these cheap and easy lunch ideas from Eating Well. Each lunch costs $3.00 or less per serving!
- Take time to make lunch the night before – when you are less rushed. If you wait until morning, you may be too rushed and end up ditching lunch preparation.
- Want to save even more money? Consider utilizing these containers to cut the cost of throwaways, and be eco-friendly.
While you’re munching on your homemade lunch, remember: you are not only doing your wallet a big favor, but likely your health as well.
Have some recipes you’d like to share? We’d love to share them with our readers!
For other ideas to help you stay on your budget, download this free Money Management Planner. It can show you where you are frittering away your money, how to record and plan your finances, and how to build emergency savings.