Eating out during the work week might not seem like a big deal. But, over time, all those takeout receipts can add up to some serious lunch money.
Why not brown-bag it instead? With a little planning—or leftovers—you can enjoy delicious, midday meals without sacrificing convenience or time.
Packing your own lunch is a great way to start:
- Saving Money Every time you say “no” to eating out, you’re also saying no to paying for tax, tips, and overpriced soda.
- Saving Calories When you make your own lunch, you control what you eat—as well as how much. "Most people do pretty well nutritionally when they brown bag it, especially when compared with eating out," says Sandra Woodruff, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant, and author of The Good Carb Cookbook (Avery, 2001) and The Complete Diabetes Prevention Plan (Avery, 2005).
- Saving Time Don’t think you have time to make lunch? Think again! Packing a meal doesn’t have to be a hassle—if you’re prepared. Next time you head to the store, grab snacks you can easily toss in your lunch. Yogurt, granola bars, or Fruit Rollups are all good options.
Lunch Menu Ideas
Need a little lunch menu inspiration?
- Sandwiches The sandwich is a brown bag staple. And for good reason—they’re as easy to make as they are to eat. Whip up a peanut butter and jelly, turkey, tuna, or ham sandwich with whole grain bread and you’re ready to go.
- Wraps Want to mix things up? Try a tortilla! This versatile, low-fat Mexican staple tastes great filled with veggies, beans, and hummus. Or, top with tomato sauce and cheese for a healthy personal pizza.
- Snacks Round out your meal with healthy lunch snacks. Since the fiber in whole grains and fruit keeps you feeling fuller for longer, pack a bag of whole-grain snack mix—or try a Nature Valley or Fiber One bar.
- Soups Filling and frugal, soup travels well and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you don’t have dishes at work, try a Progresso Soup Microwave Bowl.
- Microwave Lunches Tight on time? Premade meals offer affordable convenience. Try a Hamburger Helper microwave or Green Giant Just For One™.
Lunch Bag Options
Fresh lunch? It’s in the bag.
- Brown Bag When you do eat out, or go shopping, save the bags. You can reuse them to tote your lunch—it’s a great way to save money and eliminate waste!
- Insulated Bag Have a long commute? No office refrigerator? Invest in an insulated bag to keep items like dinner leftovers, yogurt, and drinks chilled to perfection.