Saturday, March 7, 2009

Go Green at Work: Brown Bag Your Lunch

Whether you work at an office with a cafeteria or a building that has no microwave or refrigerator, you do have options to ensure that you're both green and frugal. Buying lunch everyday adds up. I recently stopped buying lunch everyday, except for Fridays (my little treat to end the week). I'm saving at least $40+ per week, if not more.

Plan Ahead
Make room in your workspace to keep some non-perishables. I have a small empty drawer in a small filing cabinet. I find the following items can quickly be turned into a decent, healthy lunch:
  • Crackers
  • Tortillas or a loaf of bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Tuna fish
  • Sardines
  • Granola, snack or meal-replacement bars
Pack Some Refrigerated Items
I also like to have some fresh fruit of veggies to snack on throughout the day. So I'll throw a few of these into a bag or lunch cooler since they keep well:
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Baby carrots
  • Yogurt
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Hummus
Other Necessities
You'll want to keep a can opener handy. (It'll be difficult to open that can of tunafish without one.) Plus, having regular utensils, some napkins and a plate (plastic or ceramic) will also be helpful. Even if you don't have a kitchenette area, you can easy wash them in the bathroom. (I realize that isn't the ideal scenario. I can tell you that I don't normally wash my utensils in the bathroom. But when you have no other choice, it'll do the trick.)

You'll also want to bring a drink if you're not a big water drinker. Again, water is $0, healthy and green (no packaging if you use your own bottle and the water fountain vs. bottled water).

Yes, you will have setbacks. I'm all too familiar with those days when you're starving, and crackers and peanut butter just aren't going to cut it. That's fine, but try to set a weekly budget. For instance, no more than $10-15 per week is spent on lunch. If you're dieting, then you'll get a double bonus. Trying to watch what you eat while watching your budget go hand in hand.

Just Do It
It usually takes approximately 30 days for a change to become habit. The hardest part is actually making the initial change. My incentive was the money I could save by not buying lunch. Have you made the switch or plan on trying it? Let me know how it goes.

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