When I think of packed lunches, the idea of those Lunchables pop into my head. You know, the ones you give to elementary school kids for field trips with the 6 little-bitty slices of cheese, lunch meat, crackers, and a couple of Oreo cookies for dessert. Those were the good ol’ days when I didn’t know what was healthy or nutritious. I just wanted to finish my cheese and cracker sandwiches and treat myself to those good ole Oreo cookies. This was my idea of bringing my own lunch to school. But packed lunches aren’t just for kids, people! And, there’s more to preparing a lunch than cheese and crackers.
For those of you who’ve read our previous blog posts, you know we’ve touched on the subject of saving money and what’s one of the easiest ways to cut spending? That’s right. STOP EATING OUT SO MUCH.
With our busy lives, I understand that eating out is going to happen, but, we’ve made it the rule, and not the exception. It’s important is to find a balance. Let’s explore how this can be done with the power of packing your own lunch.
What I do?
I meal prep the night before. It makes sense in my household because we enjoy home cooked meals at least 5 nights a week. Every two weeks, we purchase tons of fresh veggies, canned sauces, bulk up on a variety of meats, and get some rice and pastas. We cook extra servings of whatever foods we’re eating that night and pack up the “leftovers” for the next day’s lunch.
One night we might have pork chops, fideo, and some steamed broccoli. Another night, it could be BBQ ribs, beans and rice with some corn in the cob. We mix it up every other week. But the foods that stay consistent include the rice, the meat, and the veggies. This sure beats the sandwiches, chips, and other overpriced snacks in the convenience store or hitting up a fast food chain. Bringing one lunch easily saves me from spending $5-10 a day.
At work, I have a 30-minute lunch break, so it’s not very convenient for me to go out and find a meal. I would have to choose a restaurant, traverse to chosen restaurant, order what I want, wait for my food to be prepared, eat it, then go back to work. Also, I don’t have a car, so I would have to use public transportation or walk to the nearest restaurants because this girl is not going to call an Uber/Lyft on top of paying for a meal. Instead of all that mess, I have my lunch waiting for me in the staff fridge and all I have to do is pop it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes and BAM! FREEDOM in some Tupperware.
What you can do to start meal prepping?
A helpful tip to get you started on creating your own meals is to plan out what meals you want to cook. Something simple and easy that you know how to prepare. Make a list of all the items you’ll need and purchase them in bulk. Think vegetables, rice, pastas, meats, and healthy snacks like fruits. Once you have a solid foundation for your meal plan, understand how long it will take you to prepare your food. It’s important that you set that amount of time aside and stick to a schedule to make your meals! Reward yourself with your fave snacks when you stick to your meal prep schedule.
If preparing a meal every night like I do is not your thing, I completely understand. It takes time and patience to make meals that are yummy, filling, and simple to make. So why not prepare on the weekends? You can focus on creating one type of meal for the whole week.
It keeps things simple and you don’t have to run around trying to make 3 or 4 different foods. I’ve also met people that prepare meals for one part of the week and then make the rest another part of the week. There’s so many options that you can try that fits your lifestyle.
Once you have your meals ready, go ahead and freeze them to keep them nice and fresh until they’re ready to be eaten! You have the power to choose what foods you want, how much you want, and prepare them however you see fit. The best part of all this is that you don’t have to worry about what your next meal will be or how much it will cost you.