Does bringing lunch to work actually save money?

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Lunch is one of the best hour of the day for an employee. It is the time to actually pause for a while, talk and socialize to your colleagues and grab a mind, spirit and body boosting meal. It is truly exciting to hit the sidewalk and find your favorite lunch spot and order your usual meal combination. You are used to this routine, walk out of the office grab a fast food, maybe order online and you may think that it actually saves you time and effort. However, with all these activities that you enjoy during your lunch hour, you may have overlooked the fact that you actually spend too much for your everyday meal and that saved ‘time and effort’ does not actually bring your convenience.

So, you might want to consider brown-bagging or bringing your own lunch at work. – but hey! I know what you’re thinking, you’re wondering how on earth will you find time preparing and cooking your own work lunch when you can’t even breathe on your tight job schedule? — we all think that we don’t have the luxury of time, we convinced ourselves that we don’t, but in reality, there are plenty of extra time, and in that few extra minutes can save you Php. 4000 – Php. 9,000 annually. Imagine the things you can do with that.

Here’s the math. Let’s say you’re eating out at a local ‘carinderia’ near your work building. An order of a meat meal— let’s say adobo, menudo or caldereta may cost around Php 50- Php 70 and another Php. 10 – Php 15 for your rice, totals to Php 60 – 85 a meal. What if you add rice? Or you want an ice-cold soft drinks or a bottled mineral water to flush the meal down? In addition, if you’re a vegetarian, you probably would order a veggie meal for Php 25- 35 plus rice and bottled mineral water, that meal combination would sum up to Php 35-50. Hence, with that average meal cost, you’re spending Php. 300 – 425 per week, and at least Php. 20,400 a year. – and what if you’re not eating out in a carinderia but in a fast-food restaurant with minimum meal price of 100 per solo order, that would be Php. 500-600 a week, that’s roughly Php. 24,000 annually.

Now, let us compute your expenses when you start packing your lunch. So, you may go on a grocery store on weekends and buy yourself a bulk of ingredients such as quarter or half kilo meat, salad veggies, eggs and frozen items like hotdogs and tocino or bunch of canned goods with a budget of Php 300-500. And make your usual favorites, in variation every day. Your grocery items would last for 1 and a half week or maybe two if you’re not a massive eater.  In total your weekly meal budget would be Php. 40 – 60 a day, Php. 200-300 a week and Php. 11, 520- 15, 000 a year. And you also bring your own home-brewed coffee or a self-mixed fruit juice or your own jug of mineral water. And you will also not be tempted to buy extra siders outside because you’re not even going out. In addition, it can also give you a few minutes extra ‘me’ time from your regular lunch hour when you have your meal immediately available at your desk. So, yes more savings, plus few minute nap time to help us go through the day.

However, I am not saying that you have to pack your lunch forever, you may also want to treat yourself sometimes and eat your all-time sidewalk or food park favorites. You may create a schedule or self-agreement regarding that.

Work Lunch Ideas

After finally deciding to bring your lunch at work, the next thing to do is to plan your meal for each day of the week. Though, planning what to cook or prepare is easier said than done. So, to help you in thinking your next packed lunch here are some ideas.

1. Jar Salads

Believe it or not, salad cost much in a regular café, so instead of buying a plateful of salad you can just pack your salad on your personal size choice mason jar and make different salad packages each day. Just put dressing, wet ingredients, and moisture resistant vegetables at the bottom and work your way up with proteins, grains, and nuts.

2. Sandwiches, lot’s of ‘em.

To add to your snack and lunch list. You may also buy in bulk sandwich ingredients to make different sandwiches each day. You may have Ham and Cheese on Monday, Tuna on Tuesday, Egg salad on Wednesday, Chicken on Thursday, a Clubhouse sandwich on Friday and a meaty TLC Burger on Saturday. You can actually save added cost on ready-made sandwiches available outside.

3. Marinated Meat and Microwave-ready Meals

To note bore yourself with the same ulam re-heated three times. You may start marinating chicken or beef for your next packed lunch. You may have at least three different marinade or pan-grilled flavors, you may try spicy barbecue, chicken inasal, teriyaki or bulgogi marinade. Moreover, you may also cook in portion, your favorite ‘lutong bahay’ such as menudillo, adobo, higado, afritada and mechado and store it in a microwave safe containers. Just make sure that your refrigerator is cold enough to keep your food spoil-free and don’t forget to cook it well! Now, you can enjoy lutong bahay packed lunch every day.

4. Bring Magic to your rice 

We are Filipinos, we don’t like the idea of wasting food. We may repeat, repair, or recook meals to save it from being thrown as trash. So, if you have leftover adobo sarsa you can work on your plain rice and make it adobo rice for tomorrow. You can also have java rice and egg fried rice (that is, if you have plenty of time in the morning). But the point is, a little flavor on your rice occasionally can actually do the magic and inspire you to be productive for the rest of the day.

Final Thoughts

Finally, a lunch period must be special each day. It is the only time to be ourselves outside of our busy, and tiring work routine. So, whether you choose to eat outside or to save a little with a brown-bagged meal, it all goes the same. Our food replenish our used energy, our motivation, and our thankfulness through a loud, fine, and satisfying ‘burp’. Because then and again, our food inspire us, and it will absolutely inspire us more when we come to realize that we are actually taking care ourselves when we prepare our own food. We know how a meal was made, that this meal is a healthy meal made specially to fit our varying mood and personality.

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