Packing your lunch is a great way to save money and stay on track with your nutrition. The concept is easy, but with busy schedules, it’s easy to forget and suddenly you’re left trying to find something satisfying from the vending machine or ordering delivery yet again. With a new school year beginning, there couldn’t be a better time to start a new lunch-packing habit! I pack my lunch everyday, and these tips have saved us both time and money week in and week out.
1. Invest in a lunchbox
In my workplace, most people bring their lunch in a lunchbox. Others bring their lunch in a plastic bag. Skip the plastic bag and invest in a lunch bag or lunch box large enough to hold your lunch and a snack. Your lunch will be easy to find in the fridge and less likely to be taken by accident. Most importantly, having a designated lunchbox will make packing your lunch much easier- no digging around for a paper bag the day of! This is the best time of year to shop for is right now! We got our lunch boxes a few years ago from Target and we love them. Lunch boxes are sold in a variety of shapes and sizes. I like my little purple lunchbox. Luke opted for a much larger lunchbox because he likes to pack more food and hates playing “lunchbox tetris” trying to get everything to fit. We took these lunchbox pictures after work one day, and realized that we’d inadvertently dressed to match our lunchboxes! Purple and blue are our favorite colors, and I match my lunchbox at least once a week- at least no one has to guess who the purple lunchbox belongs to!
2. Pack the night before
Mornings can be rushed and busy, and packing your lunch the night before checks one more item off your list. We keep our lunches on a certain shelf in the fridge so they are easy to find and grab in the morning. Remember to pack napkins or silverware if they are not available at work.
3. Embrace Leftovers!
We are a happy family of two, but most of my recipes serve 4 or more people. Instead of halving the recipe, we make the full recipe and have lots of leftovers. Leftovers make great lunches, but there’s nothing worse than forgotten leftovers spoiling in the fridge. We always take leftovers for lunch the next day, ensuring nothing goes bad. When we serve dinner, we pull out our Tupperware containers and pack our lunches at the same time. Not only does this save time when we clean up, but it also removes the temptation to overeat at dinner. I’d rather have leftovers than a peanut butter sandwich or frozen dinner any day!
4. Use Quality Containers
Packing, storing and reheating lunches day in and day out can take a toll on cheap plastic containers. We love these Rubbermaid containers (affiliate link)- they are great quality and fit nicely in our lunch boxes. Glass containers are also durable and easy to reheat. We avoid using disposable plastic bags and cheap containers. Investing in quality food storage containers will pay off! Soups, dressings or any other liquids should be packed in leak proof containers. I love packing soup in mason jars– easy to pack and easy to reheat! Remember to pack salad ingredients to keep everything fresh and crisp!
5. Don’t forget snacks!
I always get hungry around 10:00 and sometimes get hungry again around 2:00. I plan ahead and always pack a healthy snack or two when I pack my lunch. Having a snack on hand takes away the temptation to head for the vending machines or grab a day-old donut from the break room. Since I know I’ll need a snack, I plan ahead and put satisfying snacks on our grocery list, like yogurt, nuts or hummus and veggies.
What is your favorite lunch packing hack? Share in the comments below?