Eat, Pret, Yo Sushi, McDonalds, wherever you go for your lunch everyday, you’re probably spending at least a fiver a time. When I worked in London I EASILY spent a tenner every day on my morning coffee, lunch and an afternoon snack. With 20 working days in a month, that’s £200 on soups, sandwiches, fruit, chocolate and coffees.
Crazy right? Just think how good it would be to have that money to spend on more interesting things! So how do we do it, while still filling our bellies at lunchtime?
When I started working in Berkshire, my office didn’t have many coffee shops or takeaway food places nearby so I started taking in packed lunches everyday. I also made my own coffee (with a cafetiere at my desk). WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT MADE. Not only did I lose half a stone within a few months but the cheap packed lunch also made a real difference to my bank account at the end of every month. WHAT a revelation.
The biggest barriers to packed lunches are a) that they’re a hassle to make and b) they are boring. Well with the first point, deal with it – you’ll save money and you might lose weight – and with the second point, duh make them more interesting. How? I hear you ask. By making your own version of your high street favourites.
‘Make your own’ salads from Tossed, Chop’d etc
You know those great places where you choose 1 base, 1 protein, 4 veg etc? Well make your own at home. For a couple of days’ worth of salads, I buy a bag of spinach, a bunch of spring onions, a pepper, carrots, a tin of sweetcorn and a packet of bacon. Each morning, all you have to do is cook a few rashers of bacon and prepare the rest of the salad (with lots of freshly ground pepper). Then chuck it in a tupperware and take it to work. Buy a bottle of salad dressing and keep it in the fridge at work so you can add it just before you take lunch every day. Easy.
Chicken pot pie soup from Eat.
Don’t worry. This is going to be better than a packet of soup from the shops. But first of all, forget about the pastry. It’s really really really bad for you. If you don’t believe me, check Eat’s website. For the soup, here’s how you can recreate it as a packed lunch.
For 2-3 portions, buy a carton of covent garden chicken soup, 2 chicken breasts, a large carrot, 2 celery sticks, an onion, frozen peas, a little chicken stock and a little double cream. Stir fry the chicken, dice the veg and fry off and then add all ingredients together in a pan to cook slowly. Reheat in the morning and stick in a flask for work.
You can follow this process for a number of other soups, basically jazzing up the standard (and dull) soups available in the supermarkets by adding additional meat, some creme fraiche or cream, perhaps even some cheese.
Can’t stand sandwiches but love Pret’s baguettes? Then it’s simple. Buy a bag of frozen baguettes rather than a loaf of bread and make yourself your special lunch every morning. I won’t give you any more detail because I’m sure you know how to make a sandwich but remember to include a salad dressing or mayo and plenty of pepper like Pret does. The trick is to not to scrimp on the filling, and to add a generous amount of pepper so as to ensure your sandwich is far from bland.
Leftover roast beef from your sunday lunch would go really well in a sandwich with some horseradish!
Sorry there’s no homemade sushi option but that’s just too much hard work 🙂
If you prefer something more substantial for your lunch like a curry or a pie, then this is simple too. It just requires some planning. Rather than spending £6 a day on a bowl of pasta, make several portions yourself in advance for a fraction of the price. These can then be chucked in a tupperware and reheated at work. Lasagne would work well.
Have I missed any other cheap packed lunch options?
There are many MANY other ways to save money, and they don’t involve stopping your spending! By knowing the tricks of WHEN to shop and HOW to shop, you can buy what you usually do but spend less! To get the guide and save hundreds of pounds a month, sign up below!