Frugal Day 7: Packed Savings

Today, in most of Canada, is the day before school starts. For me it’s the day before any other work day, but a holiday all the same, so it’s welcomed. It seems timely for a re-vamped approach of how I pack my take-to-work lunches. I thought I’d get creative and share some thoughts:

Packed lunches can save you a bundle! If you were to spend somewhere between $5 and $10 per weekday on food and beverages, that’s $25-$50 in a week. Multiply that by 4 weeks in a month and you’re at $100-$200! That’s up to $1200-$2400 in a year and all on food (which is probably not all that good for you). Just think of what you could put that cash towards instead of your stomach?!

tubs with food for packed lunchesThis is the easiest of all savings. I can tell you, it will take a couple of weeks to get used to not spending, and you’ll have to be diligent to talk yourself out of the food offerings near your place of work. If you remember why you’re resisting and why holding that particular branded coffee cup really isn’t helping you any, then you’re on the right path.

Here are a few adult-friendly lunch packing tips I try to use when packing for the week. There are many kid-friendly tips on the internet to borrow from as well, but my bet is that some of these won’t be too exciting for your kids!

package of plastic tubs
My very practical new set of tubs for fall 2014.
  1. Take leftovers! (That one’s easy.)
  2. Make a couple of dishes ahead of time, divide them into lunchtime portions and freeze them. Take them out the night before to thaw. Then you’ll find that mixing up sandwich days with casserole days keeps your take-along meals interesting
  3. Bring sliced orange, lemon and some berries to toss into your afternoon water bottle. (Works best in a clear bottle or mason jar, so you can see the fruit.)  It’s refreshing, healthy and a lot cheaper than a trip to the coffee shop.
  4. Take some time at home to chop up raw veggies and fruit. They’re easier to eat in small portions.
  5. Bake or buy something sweet and package them into small quantities – that’s all you need!
  6. If you’re not going to eat out, why not borrow ideas from your favourite cafe (smoothies, drinks, salads etc) and reproduce them at home or in the office. 
  7. Add dipping sauce for veggies, fruit and crackers. (Hummus, cream cheese dip, salad dressing, nut butter…)
  8. Include fun snacks, and diversify them: homemade fruit leather, dried fruit, pretzels, yogurt, trail mix, popcorn, even dried cereal is different!
  9. Treat yourself to fun recyclable containers to pack your lunch into. In the long run you’ll still save money.
  10. Bring chopped veggies, nuts, seeds and dried fruit to garnish your salad or soup.

One thought on “Frugal Day 7: Packed Savings

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