Share Tweet Share The work lunch break. A time in the day where offices across the globe gather to chat about the latest craze, their home life or what they are doing on the weekend. It’s a time filled with great chatter and of course food. Usually this involves lots of food. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of eating what’s available when in the office. Canteen food, expensive meals on the go or full blown restaurant options. it’s more than likely that as a combination this is unhealthy and financially crippling long term. I’m a huge advocate of ‘bringing your own lunch’. Yes I’m that guy in the corner tucking into his tupperwear meal while everyone else orders subway. Jealous much? Not in the slightest. Lunch times used to be just that for me. Dining on anything and using my wage on expensive pre made food. This didn’t make financial sense to me. For the past three years ‘making my own lunch’ has been the norm. This has been a life changing move both financially and health wise. Still not convinced? Let me break this down for you. The Benefits: The health benefits of bringing your own food can be debated. It’s quite easy to stay healthy when you are controlling the food you have on a daily basis. Buying your lunch or eating out is more likely to trigger those urges for less than healthy foods. Furthermore you have no control of the ingredients and quality of the food used. Of course this is based on someone who is consciously trying to stay healthy at home. The benefits still apply for those with a less than healthy diet mind as buying your lunch in advance would still be far cheaper than purchasing on the day. In a Nutshell: : Control of diet : Restricts panic buys : Aware of what you are eating : Keeps you away from overpriced comfort food How to implement?: Easy, low cost methods: People are turned away from taking their own lunches as it involves preparation time. My advice would be to start any taking your lunch to work strategy with easy, low cost methods. Salads, vegetables, sweet potato, eggs. All things which can be easily prepared without having to spend the night before cooking up a storm. Furthermore these foods are typically low costing which provides ease of use and the money saver we are all striving towards. As you get used to this you can begin to try more extravagant dishes always maintaining the low cost however. Dinner leftovers: You may already be used to cooking great, wholesome meals on an evening to round off a day. One great tip is to overcook and make more portions. So many of your favourites either freeze or can last a couple of days in the fridge which means they make fantastic next day lunches. Overcooking and acting as if there’s someone else round for dinner is a superb way to prepare your lunch without even thinking about it. Browse an array of options online which are freezer friendly and begin to batch cook today! Routine, routine, routine: Get into a routine of preparing your lunch the night before or preparing aspects of your lunch. I usually snack on boiled eggs which can be prepared a few days in advance and once refrigerated eaten over the course of a few days. Frozen fresh vegetables are also a great option. They can be separated into individual freezer bags (or bought like that) and can be taken to work on a daily basis as a side. Not only are they easy but they are healthy. Plastic containers (Tuppawear) also become your best friend. Nuts, salads and other great healthy options can be stored and transported in these little plastic boxes of delight. The key is in the routine and rotating a number of meals you enjoy. I wrote about healthy snacks for the office previously which can help you with this. Financial Breakdown: I read a great study in the Daily mail recently which suggests the average UK worker spends approximately £7.81 on lunches/snacks everyday which financially is a crippling number. Sure the number seems exaggerated however I have seen first hand the expenditure of colleagues on lunches of convenience. It is estimated that in a lifetime that could eclipse £90,000! It’s very difficult to persuade someone to change their habits when just pulling the ‘health’ card. Most people are completely aware that what they are eating is probably not the best health wise but they still continue to do so. Urge always wins. Bringing a financial aspect into it however changes the mindset completely. People like to talk about money. People like to save money. Hell we spent the past two years buying things on GroupOn we didn’t even need just because we ‘saved money’ from it. I’ve lost count the amount of spa breaks I have been on because they were ‘cheap’ on GroupOn. The below breakdown is an indication of potential savings. It’s not set in stone however by preparing in advance and taking your lunch you are certainly likely to make a great saving. Lunch Financial Costs: The article also cites that those who bring their own lunches spend an average of £1.50 a day. Let’s put these two figures side by side. Taking your own lunch (Monthly cost): £30 Buying Lunch Out: £156.20 Difference: £126.20 What could you buy with the £126.20? A Samsung TV Two sets of flights to Amsterdam (Rates taken from SkyScanner for a number of UK routes) Pay your bills (Ok maybe not your Gas bills ;)) Or? Overpayments on your mortgage Pension saving Financial Exaggeration: Of course there is an exaggeration with the financial breakdowns above in both directions however there is still a clear differentiation between bringing your own lunch and buying your lunch out. The temptation factor of heading to a coffee shop and splurging on all their delights is removed and you have a control of what you are eating both from a health and financial perspective. The examples given above were just for ‘fun’ and I don’t expect you to spend the saved monthly money on flights to Amsterdam every month! What it does show you is an indication of the money you can save. Ploughing this money into a pension pot, an investment interest or merely making overpayments on your mortgage would be a great way to utilise the money saved. The changes are all positive too. More control over what you are actually eating as well as a financial clawback are two fantastic incentives to taking some time to prepare for work.