How often do you eat out for lunch every week? The average Midwest American worker spends approximately $61 each week on takeout, according to a recent survey from Fourth.
But did you know bringing your own lunch to work can save you hundreds of calories each day and thousands of dollars every year? The process of packing lunches at home sounds like a considerable amount of time and effort, but the benefits to your health and bank account outweigh the initial time investment.
Benefits of packing your lunch:
Clean eating – packing your lunch allows you to control the ingredients that make up your food. This can help you avoid added sugars and saturated fats.
Sustainable Energy – The right balance of nutrients will provide energy that lasts all afternoon. Here’s to productive meetings and checking things off your to-do list.
Avoid unwanted calories – by having a healthy lunch and snacks on hand, you will be equipped to avoid calorie-dense treats, leading to improved weight management.
Saves money – Those who eat out consistently spend as much as $2,400 a year on lunches. Prepping ahead of time can turn that $12 café salad into a $3 purchase during your weekend shopping trip. The money you save could be used to pay off debt faster, take a family vacation, start home renovations, etc.
Ideal portion sizes – The chances of overeating are reduced when you have perfectly portioned lunches in the fridge.
Get started and stick with it
- Plan, shop, & prep – Taking the time to plan your lunches, shop for ingredients, and assemble healthy meals will get you one step closer to achieving your health and financial goals.
- Don’t wait too long to eat – When we’re hungry, we make poorer food choices based on what’s quick and available. If you have a busy schedule and can’t eat within 4 hours of breakfast, pack healthy snacks to eat on the go, says Cleveland Clinic registered dietitian, Kate Patton, MEd, RD, LD.
- Make extra for dinner – If packing your lunch feels like another evening chore, consider doubling or even tripling your dinner recipes so there’s enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch.
- Don’t quit cold turkey – allow yourself one day each week to splurge on a meal from your favorite lunch spot. This will generate excitement throughout the week and provide an opportunity to catch up with a coworker.
- Focus on the benefits – In times of doubt, think of the benefits your homemade lunch will have on your overall health and financial well-being, suggests Themis Chryssidis, accredited dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia.
With a little planning, you can change your lunch habits to benefit your health and financial well-being. Encourage your co-workers to join in – create a support system throughout the week then enjoy a lunch out together on Fridays.