Bringing lunch to work is one of the many ways to save money and it’s always sweet to be able to put into savings that gives yourself a great reward in the future. When we talk about reducing expenses on food, we tend to think about cabinets of instant noodles or days of boring bread and peanut butter. Eating cheap doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice flavor, freshness and nutrition. Unlike eating out at a fast food place or a restaurant, it’s a great opportunity to control your portion, effectively avoiding overeating. So here are some lunches that are easy to prepare that you can bring to work daily.
Ease of Preparation: ★★★★★
To some, oatmeal could be the last thing one would think to have for lunch. It’s a breakfast meal after all, some would argue. According to Medical Daily, oatmeal provides various benefits to the human body, including boosts to energy and heart health, supports weight loss, and prevents diabetes. It is also inexpensive and for more savings, home-cooked oatmeal costs cheaper per serving too.
Oatmeal doesn’t have to be just plain oats and water. You can add in some berries, nuts and fruits to supplement other vitamins and give a sweet flavor to your meal.
Photo by Denna Jones
Oatmeal is easy to prepare prior to your work day. You can cook a large portion and keep in smaller lunch portions to bring to work on the next day. To add to variety, oatmeal can be baked into cakes, cookies and muffins so that you’ll have something to bite on alternatively.
Photo by Vegan Feast Catering
Not enough? You don’t have to keep to the traditional plain and sweet meals. Here are some savoury oatmeal recipes that you could try out too.
Ease of Preparation: ★★★☆☆
The noodles mentioned here aren’t instant food but can be prepared just as easily with a better taste. A cold pasta salad or spaghetti could fill your stomach just as easily as it can be prepared quickly. Thrown in with vegetables, nuts and seeds, or perhaps boiled meat, you’ll get a healthy mix of carbohydrates, fiber and protein for an affordable price.
Photo by Whitney
A dash of olive oil usually goes into the salad for more accentuated flavor and smell, but if you want to avoid any intake of oil, try going for an Asian taste by boiling soba. It is a great alternative and tastes delicious whether it is warm or cooled. Add in a simple balsmic vinegar, yuzu or toasted sesame dressing to your noodles and vegetables for taste and you’ll have a satisfying meal for lunch.
Photo by Andreas F. Borchert
Ease of Preparation: ★★★★☆
Leftover dishes are easy to pack, reheat in the microwave, and eat at your desk. It is indeed unrealistic to follow a recipe word for word, and buy ingredients and sauces accordingly without regards to your own budget. Some ingredients are used for almost all three meals and you don’t have to specifically prepare a picture perfect lunch everyday.
You can save more if you plan well in advance on what groceries you are getting for not only your lunch, but your breakfast and dinner together. If you’ve cooked for dinner such as macaroni and cheese or lasagna, prepare a larger portion so that you can pack the remainder into your lunchbox.
Saves not only time, but also energy, effort and money!
Photo by Asobuno.
If you’ve decided to take a night off cooking and order a pizza, get a larger pizza so that you can keep a couple of slices for your lunch the next day. You can also look into the fridge to search for foods that may be expiring soon. Mix them together to create your own very version of stir-fried meal, and if you have some rice, you can cook yourself a fried rice to bring to work.
Photo by Sodanie Chea
Even more tips on how to save more by preparing your own lunch
Even if you are buying for a family, be wary of falling into simple ‘traps’ such as bulk buying when you’re shopping. Bulk buying works on the concept buying more to lower the price per unit, thus bringing in greater savings. However, you may be tempted to pay more just to get more of something that you don’t need.
Using apps like Expense IQ, a clear list of your grocery expenses will help you to easily monitor how much you are spending and ask yourself if you are buying more than you should.
Set realistic budgets for your groceries.
Avoid purchasing perishable items such as fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk. While they may be cheaper, they do not remain fresh for a long time. You’ll end up throwing away food, and ultimately, money that could have gone to your savings or other needs.
See clearly what groceries you have spent on.
Keep your kitchen stocked with some staples such as canned food, butters and jams, frozen vegetables and dehydrated fruit. These gives you an quick and convenient alternative for a lazy lunch and you can even prepare a snack at home. Oats and typically dried food, for example, can be bought in bulk as they last longer. Check for coupons from stores and for frozen food on sale such as microwavable ready-to-eat food. It’s less hard work and less healthy than home-made food, but it can be a cheap alternative to your occasional cheat day.
Just don’t do that every day! Save smart and stay healthy!
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This article is contributed by our guest writer Lay Peng. If you would like to contribute an article to our blog, contact us through any of our communication channels!