7 Easy Lunch Ideas for Work
We all know that bringing lunch to work can be a huge money saver. So why don’t more of us do it? Well, the reasons are as individual and varied as lunch itself can be, but in the end a couple of basic themes rise to the top: time and convenience. Here are a few strategies that will help you stick to your guns and save money. (See also: 25 Quick, Cheap Lunch Ideas)
1. Stock a Lunch Pantry
Keep one of your desk drawers, some space in your locker, or even a clear plastic box with a snap-on lid in the office refrigerator stocked with long-lasting groceries suitable for on-the-fly lunch ideas for work. Crackers, rice cakes, organic tea bags, peanut butter, and even pourable boxed soups can all be stored in a drawer until you’re ready to use them. If you have a little extra room, you can even stock a few seasoning items such as cinnamon, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. For those who want to use the clear tote in the fridge idea, some of these easy cream cheese appetizers can easily be modified for a lunch of crackers and fruit with a fun spread.
2. Consider Foods in Envelope Packets
For fast-moving city commuters, envelopes and foods that come in flat packs are a great solution. Envelopes of miso soup, pre-cooked sandwich salmon, and even ramen can be tucked into the slots of your messenger bag otherwise used for files. Tasty Bite has fun international foods available in envelopes as well, and a trip down the aisle at your grocery store can result in additional finds such as envelopes of pre-cooked rice and lentils, and premixed sandwich salads you can spread on crackers from your lunch pantry.
3. Get Delivery — Through the Mail
If your commute involves lugging a bag full of tech equipment into the city via several subway changes, then taking even a small lunch to work can be cumbersome. If staying on a cheap food budget without resorting to greasy fries is a priority for you, consider the case for Amazon that Wise Bread’s own Linsey Knerl made a few years back. If you have access to a Prime membership for free shipping, then there are any number of easy, shelf-stable, and affordable lunch options you can have shipped to your place of employment to store in your lunch pantry. Lightweight vegan soup cups you can make by adding hot water, healthy protein bars, and more can all be ordered by the case and stored easily for those days when even an apple seems like too much trouble to pack.
4. If You Must Go Out, Try a Food Truck
While hitting the local diner every day might not be the thriftiest move, exploring your nearby food truck options just might be. Many cities have a food truck scene that brings more variety than any food court at the mall ever could, and often for less than the value menu at a typical fast-food drive through. For example, in Miami, many tourists and residents purchase affordable food truck munchables before heading to one of the city’s pocket parks to enjoy a quiet, affordable, and stress-free lunch. Similar options exist in areas of Boston, New York, and other large cities.
5. Get Yourself Some Great Grab-and-Go Items
Bake up a batch of chicken nuggets on a Sunday and package up some quarter-pint canning jars full of your favorite dipping sauce. Thai sweet chili sauce and peanut sauce are two of my faves. The point is, planning brown bag lunches for the week doesn’t have to take up a large amount of time. A few simple ideas for your main event, and you’ll only need to pick a few favorite fillers to round things out.
6. Grazing Is Good
If you don’t have to be on the phone most of the time, then using some of your favorite healthy road trip snacks as lunch-worthy items you can eat during smaller breaks throughout the day might be your best bet. Snack ideas are often easier to come up with than a full menu plan, even when it comes to lunch ideas for work.
7. At Least Once a Week, Go the Extra Mile
If you can carve out time to go the extra distance with sandwich ideas and zero waste lunch supplies at least once a week — say, Wednesday — it will help you feel good about the choices you’re making and maintain enthusiasm for the extra effort it can sometimes take. Take that slammin’ sandwich to the park or find a quiet corner to enjoy some streaming online news during your lunch hour.
See? Easy lunch ideas for work actually do exist. Try a few of these simple strategies for yourself, and use the money you save to get ahead financially in a way that suits your family’s needs.