Let’s face it. How often do you eat out a week for lunch? If your answer is more than twice, chances are you’re either too lazy to pack a lunch or so financially stable that you don’t have to worry about it. My hope for you is the latter, but chances are you’re the first.
The truth is we waste so much money on eating out that it’s sickening, and I’m just talking about lunchtime. I checked back through my account for last month and I’m ashamed to say I spent close to $400 on food including those weekly Starbucks cravings. That’s one student loan payment I could have saved and probably two months worth of lunches I could have packed. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not happy with that.
We’re going to assume that you’re too lazy to pack lunches, because that was me. I have found a solution that works. I found this idea off of Live Simply by Annie and although it’s directed towards packing school lunches for kids, I did it for a week straight and now I wouldn’t do it any other way.
5 Tips for Painless Lunch Packing
Step One: Prep. Things will zing along in the morning if you’ve taken the time to do the prep work the night or week before. Tasks like slicing up fruits and veggies, portioning out bags of snacks, and so on can all be done ahead of time to ensure that come the morning-of, all that’s left to do is spread some PB&J on a couple slices of bread and call it a packed lunch.
Step Two: Keep a lunch bin in the fridge. Corral all perishable lunch items in a bin in the refrigerator. This will allow you to reach right for your lunch supplies, without having to search through the entire fridge abyss to locate that container of yogurt. You can also allocate one bin per lunch item; create a ready-to-go-sandwich bin by storing all refrigerated items you’ll need to compose said sandwich together: mustard and mayonnaise, deli meats, cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and so on. You can then easily grab all the contents at once, set the bin on the counter, get to sandwich-ry, and boom, you’re done.
Step Three: Create a lunch bin in the pantry. This is the non-perishable counterpart to the lunch fridge bins. Lunch items like energy bars, pre-portioned bags of snacks, and so on should live together in one bin, basket or other container. Just as keeping all perishable lunch items together alleviates the need to search for ingredients, so too does the pantry lunch bin keep foods at the ready.
Step Four: Set up a lunch packaging and container hub.Ensure that you have to consult only one spot in order to find all lunch packing containers and other supplies, including: lunch bags, lunch boxes, ziploc bags, small food storage containers, napkins, plastic or special lunch silverware, thermoses, and so on. You might also consider keeping some money in this location for any lunch time purchases, as well as some notecards and a pen, if you’re in the habit of including lunch love notes (my mom routinely did this, and I do believe the other children were always a little envious of the sweet deal I had going on at home).
Step Five: Pack. When it’s go time, grab some fruits, veggies, yogurt, and cheeses from the lunch bin, scoop up some crackers and a sweet treat from the pantry bin, slap together a little sandwich here, a salad-in-a-jar there, pull out a bag or box and deposit the food, toss in the extra supplies and wham-bam-thank-you-MA’AM.
I will be gathering healthy adult lunch options for next week, so you just wait. Meanwhile, get you some Tupperware and a cute lunchbox.