Maybe you're a student. Maybe you're a full-time employee. Maybe you just like to take long walks in the early afternoon and sit by the pond. No matter what it is you do--unless that includes sleeping past the morning on a regular basis--chances are you need a lunch midway through the day to keep you going.
Myself, I'm a full-time employee, so I get a half hour for lunch every day to replenish and rest. I work in a mall and have access to the entire food court, but as I am on a budget, I prefer to pack myself a lunch. This usually includes some nuts (cashews are my favourite), gelatin-free yogurt (Astro Bio Best), fruit that's both fresh and dried (usually berries for the fresh and apricots for the dried, but I'll occasionally mix it up a little too), a vegetable (usually carrot sticks), a treat (because I'm five years old) and a main course (usually soup or a Tofurky sandwich). To me, it's really important to cover all of the food groups during your lunch, because you'll need that energy for the rest of your work day to last you until supper--sometimes it is your supper.
If you're at home, it's easier to cook up something, but if you're going to be out and need to pack a lunch, here are some good tips to help you out.
- Whenever you cook yourself a big meal, such as a soup, chili, pasta, etc., make plenty of extra and refrigerate it. Freeze if you've made enough to last more than a few days. Bring it to work or school with you in a microwaveable container and heat it up. Nothing costs less than something you've already made!
- Baby carrots from your local grocery store are good vegetables to add to your lunch. They're inexpensive, and they'll last you a long time, especially if you put less than 10 carrots in your lunch.
- This may be obvious, but keep an eye open for specials. Fruit specials are my personal favourite as you can get several lunches out of just one container of fruit. Fruit is also very versatile; it can be eaten alone, or added to a salad of your choice, such as a spinach salad.
- Only pack what you need, and only buy what you'll pack. Don't over-purchase on food that will spoil easily. In addition, eat sparingly. A Tofurky sandwich, for example, can be made with only 2-3 slices of Tofurky. Add more lettuce to make the sandwich more filling, and your Tofurky will last you longer.
- Skip the luxury items. Dressings and sauces may make your sandwich taste better, but they will cost you extra in the end with little to no extra benefit. Chips and cookies may be tempting, but in the end they're going to suck up your money. Work on getting rid of food items that may be sitting unused in your cupboard instead, especially if you have some sweets left over from gifts. Buying something new is always tempting, but more often than not, it's completely unnecessary.
- Forget plastic bags for putting food in. Instead, get a Tupperware set. Tupperware is completely reusable and washable, and will save you money in the end, as you'll be throwing away your plastic bags more often than not. Tupperware is more environmentally sound anyway, especially if you purchase some Tupperware made from recycled plastic.
- If you live in your own home or have access to a balcony, consider growing your own food. Growing some fruits and veggies of your own is an excellent way to make sure you get all your essential nutrients, and will certainly save you money.
Hopefully you'll find some of these tips useful. Please feel free to share some of your own in the comments section!