Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Buying Pre-made Food for Lunch

Do you despise bringing your own lunch to work? Or are you so busy that it just falls off the "to do" list?

While I usually subscribe to the idea of bringing lunch three times a week, sometimes I fall into a couple weeks in a row when one of these things happen:

-I just can't find enough hours in the day / energy to go to the store and assemble my lunches in advance.
-I can't deal with carrying anything else with me to work.
-I want to eat more salads, but I don't enjoy eating the salad I made at home once it's at work with me.

To keep on track during these busy times, sometimes I swing by the grocery store on a Monday morning on my way into work. Bringing my food in all at once helps in a few ways:

-I can pick up just what I'll need for lunch that week.
-I can pop my food for the week into the refrigerator at work, and not worry about it again until next week.
-I'm not tempted to buy lunch out, because I don't want to waste the money I've already spent.

Unfortunately for my budget, what I usually pick up is pre-made salads. Pre-made foods at the grocery store are obviously more expensive than buying the ingredients and making the food oneself, so to do this for three lunches a week is more expensive than packing up a lunch three times a week and buying out twice a week.

Knowing this, I make a deal with myself on those busy weeks: I buy four pre-made lunches, and only buy one lunch out. Trading out one of my "buying lunch out" days for one of my "eating lunch I brought" days means that the cost of all five lunches still averages out to the same amount as it would if I stuck to the three and two day plan.

Skipping a meal from Chipotle or the deli is a small concession for the convenience of not having to assemble lunches at home, and still keeps me on track with my weekly food budget. Plus, I'm far more likely to eat my spinach and kale when I'm not the one who put it in the salad.

Sometimes buying pre-made food is good for the wallet and the waistline. It's all in the way one chooses to execute the plan.

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