If there's one bit of old, tired advice for saving money, it's to stop eating out for lunch. But buying gourmet salads or grabbing your favorite guilty fast-food pleasure is more fun than pulling Tupperware out of a bag. So how do you change old habits? Here are some tips.
Celia Colista, deals.com
Make it easy
Preparing ahead will make life easier come Monday morning. Instead of scrambling to find some cheese and bread, you'll be taking a lunch bag filled with goodies out of the fridge. Try preparing extra portions when cooking dinner, cook big batches of a couple of dishes over the weekend, or make a salad or sandwich every night during the week.
Stock your pantry and fruit basket at the beginning of the week so you have fruits, nuts, chips or crudite ready to grab and go. Also stock up on multiple sizes of Tupperware containers for your main dish, sauces and single-portion snacks.
Prepare something delicious
If you take a plain cheese sandwich to work every day, you'll be eating out again before the end of the week. Treat yourself to gourmet ingredients such as prosciutto or your favorite fancy yogurt to keep things interesting. You'll still end up spending less than you would on takeout.
Bored with dinner leftovers? Reuse ingredients in creative ways, such as adding grilled chicken to a salad or mixing leftover veggies with pasta and grated cheese. Search online for creative twists on lunch stand-bys.
And be sure to throw in "a little something" — something sweet or salty or crunchy — to complement the main event. A variety of delicious foods — treat included — will make you look forward to digging into that paper bag come lunchtime.