Is it just me or is the whole idea of going out every day and purchasing food in the limited time you receive for your lunch break just seem like a big waste of time?
I remember working in retail and getting my first break. All the kids ran to the food court and spent all the money they worked for that day on a meal. I remember promising myself that i would spend less than I made and that’s when i realized how planning my meals and snacks in advance were not only healthier for my waistline but also financially healthier.
Here are some of the methods i use to plan out my lunches at work.
Sunday Meal preps
Every Sunday, i beat the Sunday Scaries by planning for the week ahead. From getting my work clothes in order, packing workout clothing, to planning my meals. Dinners are always up in the air for me so i try to keep a consistency by making my smoothies and lunches ahead of time. There are so many resources online to help you plan and budget healthy meals that won’t go bad. For me, making green smoothies for breakfast and a salad ( no dressing) for lunch not only keeps well but aids in keeping a consistency to my week. I can always plan on having my nutritious meals and worry less about calorie counting and purchasing snacks through out the day since this has already been planned out.
Keeping nutritious snacks at my desk/purse
Although I prepare my lunches for the week ahead of time. I also keep some quick nutritious snacks at my desk as well. Some lean clean jerky, fruit ( apples, oranges, bananas), dried fruit and nuts keep well at my desk and help keep me full so i don’t start thinking about lunch at 10 am. My grocery list is pretty consistent week after week and although I will add variety from time to time this has helped me focus more on work and other important tasks and less about when my next meal will come from.
Not carrying cash for vending machines
For a while i would never purchase snacks/meals at work since the markup was so high and then all that changed when I started working at a company where the markup on the snacks was relatively low… therefore i started buying snacks and would justify that the price was consistent with the supermarket. A few months later I realized i had gone over my food budget with all the trips to the vending machine/convenience store. By keeping less cash on you and making the trip to the water fountain first before the snack machine will not only help you save some change but also some calories. For reference a snack a day was close to $2.00 and over the course of a month I had spent roughly $40. This could have been a nice meal out with friends on the weekend, a massage, pedicure.. etc.
Eating at a scheduled time and adopting that through the Weekend
There are so many studies that show routine helps you live longer. Although routine is not recommended for working out as you'll just end up plateauing on your overall goals, I truly believe in it for sleeping and eating patterns. Ever notice that when you sleep in on the weekend you end up getting hungry at the same time you normally would have had lunch during the week? By sleeping at a relatively consistent time and waking up at a consistent time on the weekend you can help create this normalized routine. These routines help our biological clock work more properly. You will eat at your normal times or remember to fuel properly and never be left hangry. I can’t count the number of times i’ve had to stop to get food to fuel my body since I skipped breakfast and lunch since i was not feeling particularly hungry at the time i thought i should eat. Had i had a meal at my normal meal time I would have avoided the hanger pains and enjoyed my time with my friends and family more. I would’ve have also ordered much less food at the restaurant knowing I can’t fit three meals in one meal setting.
These are just some rules i follow and learned along the way that helped me stay within my food/grocery budget. The FOMO lifestly e definitely does not help however some careful planning for meals during the work week can help you save a good amount of money that can be added to your emergency fund or other areas of your life that you need to start budgeting for at this age.
Leave a comment if you have other strategies you follow to save money or meal plan in advance.