When you’re stressed at work and battling a seemingly endless to-do list, it’s tempting to dart across the street and grab lunch from your favorite restaurant or fast food joint. But frequently buying lunch out puts a large dent in your wallet while adding inches to your waistline. Brining your lunch to work – just three times a week – can make a huge difference in your health and your savings.
Greater control over your diet
When you’re under pressure at work or incredibly busy, you probably don’t have time to search through a restaurant’s menu ahead of time to find healthier options. And when your stress levels are high or your mood is low, you’re much more likely to opt for that overfilled burrito or plate of chicken fingers. Research has shown that stress causes people to choose foods high in fat and sugar over healthier options, according to Harvard Medical School. While your rational brain may want to eat a low-calorie meal, you’re overtaxed brain will have already ordered a greasy burger. By bringing your lunch to work, you have greater control over your diet. You can set yourself up for success later in the day by creating a simple, healthy lunch that’s full of nutrients before you head to work.
Bringing your own lunch saves you money and calories.
Bringing your own meal instead of buying lunch translates into lots of saved calories. A typical hamburger with a side of fries and a soda has 760 calories and 27 grams of fat, whereas a turkey sandwich with light mayo and cheese on whole wheat bread with an apple and glass of iced tea registers at a much more reasonable 400 calories and 10 grams of fat. This means that if you brought lunch to work just three times a week, you would save nearly 1100 calories and 50 grams of fat each week – a sizeable amount when trying to lose weight.
Buying your lunch everyday is no frugal matter – even simple sandwiches and salads can cost $10 or more. If you don’t bring a lunch to work, then it’s easy to justify spending the money because you have to eat. But the cost of eating out adds up quickly. People who buy lunch every day spend $2,500 a year, according to Time magazine. By making your lunch at home, you can easily create filling, satisfying meals that cost less than $3 per serving, saving you a lot of money. Time pointed out that a peanut butter, apple and granola wrap costs $1 dollar to make but an average of $4.50 to buy at a restaurant. By bringing the wrap from home just three times a week, you would save $1,014 each year. With that money, you can treat yourself to a vacation at the end of the year.
“The cost of eating out adds up quick.”
Or you can use those savings to retire. Time explained that if you put $2,000 you would have spent on buying lunch every day into your company’s employer-matched 401K(k) plan in your twenties, that investment could grow at 7 percent each year to reach an incredible $640,828 when you’re 62.
It doesn’t have to be a challenge to create a healthy, inexpensive lunch to bring to work. A simple trick is to cook more than you need when you’re making dinner and then pack the extra for lunch the next day. You can also prepare a big batch of food on Sunday that you can portion out for the rest of the week. Soups, protein-packed salads and grilled chicken with veggies and rice are great lunch options that switch things up from the usual sandwich.