5 Tips for the Brown-Bagging Community

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

Brown-bag lunches are well-associated with school-aged children, but many adults don’t think they have the time to pack a bagged lunch for work, or that it would even be worth the effort in savings. After all, you have to eat, and food costs money. It’s just a matter of preference, right?

On the contrary, considering that the average prepared meal costs anywhere from $5-$9, those who eat out or get take-out every day for lunch could be spending nearly $50 a week, or $200 a month just on lunches. This is a huge difference from the $1-2 meals you can prepare from the groceries already stocked in your refrigerator. So if you’re looking for a good way to save extra money, packing your lunches is a great money-saver. You don’t have to totally eliminate eating out to see the difference; even taking your lunch to work 3 out of 5 days translates into a huge savings.

Not only is packing a lunch cheaper, it’s often a lot healthier. Convenience foods, take out, and even deli sandwiches are usually loaded with excess calories and fat. Packing a healthy bagged lunch for work will allow you to trim a little off your waistline as well as your budget. Reducing calories and increasing nutrition in your bagged lunch can be as simple as switching to low-fat mayo, opting for whole-wheat bread, and packing carrot sticks instead of chips.

The following are some ways to make packing your lunch more time-efficient and interesting.

  • Leftovers. Don’t underestimate the potential of leftovers. Even a small portion of meat or casserole can be quickly made into a sandwich or completed with a few extras to make another meal. This is a great way to keep your refrigerator cleaned out and avoid waste, as well.
  • Think outside the (lunch) box. A traditional bagged lunch consists of a sandwich and a piece of fruit. This is perfectly fine, but can get boring if you pack the same thing every day. Try switching things up a little – consider options such as dried fruit, applesauce and pudding snack cups, hummus and veggies, frozen dinners, or fresh salad.
  • Invest in a quality insulated bag and/or thermos. Giving yourself the option of a wide variety of cold and hot foods, regardless of whether you have access to a microwave or refrigerator, can break up the monotony even more. Soup works great in a thermos, while insulated bags with ice packs can keep cold cuts and yogurt chilled all day.
  • Pack your lunch the night before. A frequent excuse used by non-baggers is a lack of time to prepare a lunch during the early morning hustle. Preparing your lunch the night before eliminates this excuse and also allows you to plan your lunch more carefully.
  • Consider weight-loss and nutrition shakes. Lunches should remain light, since a heavy meal can leave you tired and sluggish the rest of the afternoon. Consider using meal-replacement shakes, especially if you are trying to lose weight. These drinks, particularly the ones you mix yourself, are loaded with nutrition, are filling, and will energize you for the rest of your work day.  While requiring little if no preparation, each nutrition shake costs only a few dollars.

Consider the savings, health benefits, and multitude of options, there is little excuse for working adults not to make an effort at least a few times a week to brown-bag it.

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