As most of our readers know, we’re not yet financially independent, but we’re doing everything possible to achieve our goal. Everything possible includes making lunches for our workweek. I must admit, one of my biggest financial pitfalls throughout the years has been eating in restaurants. It’s not so much the food that lures me out to fine (and not-so-fine) eateries, it’s mostly the atmosphere and the social aspect that gets me. Hence, in an effort to reach our financial goals, we shun most restaurant meals these days. Contrary to our spendy past, we have become quite crafty in preparing frugal eats for our workweek. Let’s take a look!
Our Weekly Menu
I must tell you that I am the only person in our household that commutes to a desk job outside of the home each day. Mr. MMM has the luxury of being able to work mostly from his home office. Therefore, he doesn’t need to brown bag any lunch. He is able to climb the steps out of the doldrums (I’m being overly dramatic here for entertainment purposes) of the basement to prepare a nutritious yet delicious lunch in our kitchen. This usually consists of tuna and refried beans. It’s what he likes. Don’t judge.
I, on the other hand, must plan a menu for my workweek if I am to stay on task and eat lunch at my desk instead of skipping out to the closest pizza joint or fast food spot. Both of which I am a sucker for with little willpower to guard against it when my tummy starts a churnin’.
Typically, I am able to plan on taking dinner leftovers for lunch the next day if we have a solid plan in place for dinner each night. However, when it’s obvious our planned dinner eats are going to be demolished, or we’re preparing something that isn’t good after reheating, I must make secondary arrangements. That’s where preparation comes in!
If you’re interested in how we spend our money, I suggest the following:
- We’re Technologically Challenged, And Lovin’ Every Minute Of It
- We’re Reaching Financial Independence Without Bikes or Beans
- We Didn’t Need New Glasses, But we Bought Them Anyway
- Why We Refuse To Buy A Bigger House For Occasional Guests
Frugal Eats Preparation
Unfortunately I don’t always succeed at preparing a fully-balanced lunch meal when I take my lunch to work – but it’s still better than pizza or fast food. I/we do, however, put a lot of focus on balancing out breakfasts and dinners – so not all is lost.
In some instances, I will prepare a week’s worth of food for the upcoming workweek. When I am fully confident our dinner menu won’t suffice for lunch leftovers, I plan to make a batch of food on Sunday that will (hopefully) last me the entire week.
Case in point, the other week I whipped up a batch of baked chicken with brown rice and green beans. I effectively stored this in a big container in the fridge and divvied out a portion each morning before leaving for work. And I failed to take a picture of it for my readers. Blah.
Another staple that enables me to stop spending foolishly at pizza joints and fast food locales during lunches at work is spaghetti and meatballs. I can happily eat a batch of sketties and ‘balls for the entire week without hesitation. And I LOVE it.
Frugal Eats I Typically Take To The Office:
- Pasta variations
- Chicken, rice, veggies
- Fruit and veggie smoothie
- Hard boiled eggs
- Dinner leftovers
Work Week Execution
Knowing I have a delicious lunch I can look forward to at work is vital to my success. I put a HIGH (I cannot emphasize this enough) priority on my break time at work. I have ZERO interest in working through lunch while trying to grab a bite of a sandwich here and there. ZERO.
For me, having a mental break means I can be a much more productive employee the second half of the day. And since I don’t define my entire being by the position I hold at my W-2, working through lunch doesn’t make me feel accomplished. Quite the opposite, in fact. It really does nothing more than tick me off.
The other thing I truly enjoy during work, is getting the heck out of the office. Hence, it is a struggle every single day for me to eat my lunch at my desk. That’s why I MUST have a plan and I MUST be looking forward to my lunch break and what I’m about to devour. To me my lunch is not just sustenance; it’s a break from the monotony and a chance for my to recharge for the second half of the day.
Because it’s not just about filling my belly, I must also combine my work lunch with something that enables me to believe I am truly getting a mid-day break. And going out to eat satisfies every single desire I have – but that is obviously pushing us in the opposite direction from our financial goals. So what’s a hungry, tired girl to do when noon rolls around? I have solved this issue by looking forward to reading some blogs or even writing one! Truth be told, this very blog post was conceived while eating lunch at my desk at work. Productivity abounds!
Articles You Might Also Enjoy:
- Frugal Fail: A Fast Food Confession
- Frozen Pizza Fridays
- How We Save Money By Having Our Groceries Delivered
Preparing To Fail
No one is perfect. And we are quite far from that side of the spectrum. We do our best. That means we (mostly me since I work outside the home) must prepare to fail. Preparing to fail means I always keep emergency food at my desk to squash my hunger should I forget my lunch or fail to pack it in the first place.
My emergency stash consists of:
- Peanut butter
- Pita chips
- Oatmeal (My. Last. Resort.)
It’s not my preference, but it is everything a girl needs to get through the workday until dinner. And did I mention there are FREE beverages at work? Free coffee, hot chocolate, and tea. Let me tell you, I don’t forget to indulge in these offerings each day.
Bottom line, we do the best we can. We’re not perfect. We do mess up. And I do occasionally go out for lunch. But I’m always mindful of how much money I spend and take care not to allow it to happen too often.
What about you? What does your lunchtime look like during work? Do you brown bag it? Or do you still opt to spend money during work hours for a convenient lunch?