This guest post comes courtesy of Laden Nikraven, and was originally published on her blog Make The Most
For years, through high school, college and now nearly nine years of full-time work, I've brought my lunch every single day. That's not an exaggeration — I didn't pay for a workday lunch once in 2018.
This habit started in high school, when I'd rather scarf down the lunch my mom made me and then study in the library for 30 minutes with friends than stand in a long line for a cafeteria lunch. In college, I worked as a receptionist during lunch hours and had to eat at my desk before rushing off to my next class. After college, I moved to the city and was trying to pay bills, have a social life and the latest fashions on a low, entry-level journalist salary — packing my lunch helped me stay afloat and continue to save for emergencies and our future home (and kept my closet full of miniskirts).
These days I workout during my lunch break, and thinking of my packed lunch waiting for me is what gets me through it. My closest friends and family know I preach this (and know I have no place giving financial advice), but I think bringing your lunch is a financial and health game changer. You don't have to grab pricey takeout or bring boring leftovers hoping they reheat OK. There are so many cheap and delicious meals you can pack that take 10 minutes or less to prepare the night before. And, you save so much money. I can typically make Brian and myself six breakfasts, six lunches and six dinners for $80 a week. And it only takes me a few minutes to prepare our lunches for the next day after dinner. Even if it only saves us a couple hundred dollars throughout the year, that's a vacation (at the sacrifice of nothing because getting to eat this leftover chickpea stew at work tomorrow is a luxury).
Of course, this isn't for everyone (sometimes Brian just needs that Chipotle burrito), and I often eat dinner out with friends (I have four social after-work commitments next week), but over the years I've tried to limit my eating out to places I want to try, with people I want to see, instead of wasting money and time on something I could prepare just as well, if not better, at home.
This year I'm improving my work lunch game with a SoYoung lunch poche, which fits all the essentials, with room for a drink and extra snacks. It's fully lined, with a removable insert for easy cleaning and a shoulder strap for easy carrying. I love that SoYoung is a woman-owned company (you can find the founder's amazing story here) and that every SoYoung product is made with the hope that it helps people embrace a little bit more wellness in their lives.
Do you bring your lunch to work? What do you pack? I swear by leftovers and always have a few options in the freezer to choose from to keep things at least a little exciting, but Brian takes the same peanut butter sandwich, on the same bread, with the same crackers, cookies, yogurt and fruit every day. In case you're not convinced to bring your lunch more often this year (I get it, sometimes a Potbelly cookie is the only thing that keeps me going from 2-5), any other finance/health tips/goals for 2019? I'm all ears.