In conjunction with my budgetary efforts (gosh, that sounded stuffy!) I’ve started some serious brown-bagging. I was just a little bit shocked when I realized how much I could be saving. As I work long hours, buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner out is an easy trap to fall into. For me, this expense can range anywhere from $20 (breakfast four days a week?) to $116. Eek. $464 a month on food? I don’t think so.
So, brown-bagging is in process. In my mind, this includes a number of things. First off, I hate eating as soon as I get up in the morning. As I’m usually very low-maintenance (up and out the door in under 30 minutes), this isn’t a viable option for me. But with 10+ hour shifts, I’ve got to make sure I have something in the morning or I’ll feel like I’m running on empty for the rest of the day. I like to leave bagels or cereal and milk at work (yes, I do that) so breakfast is readily available and there’s no excuse for buying food on the way. Also, I’ve come to like packing homemade oatmeal --I can’t stand the instant stuff, but I whip up my own mix the night before and toss it in a tupperware.
Secondly, lunch. This is harder. It seems like the brown-bagging bunch is a rarity in my department. There are three out of 50 that I can think of that brown-bag every single day. It would be a lot easier if my only option was McDonald’s -not really a temptation to buy out there! However, I don’t have that ‘luxury’. I work in an area rich with cool restaurants, fun cafes, and a host of international cuisine. Damn. So... avoiding lunch temptation is a little harder.
As for dinner, well. I feel like dinner shouldn’t be on here, but it is. I work into the evenings and often don’t get to cook dinner at home until 9pm or 10pm. Not only is this a pain in the ass (I have no desire to clean up the kitchen at 10:45 at night), but I am always hearing that eating dinner late has a negative impact on your health, including eating habits, overall health and even sleep. To try to cut down on dinner out or late night cooking, I’ve started packing a small second meal. It’s a little bit annoying (you’ve heard of the bag lady? I’m the tupperware lady...), but so far it’s proved effective.
Brown-bag favorites so far: egg and tuna salad (sounds disgusting, but delicious), homemade rice pudding for breakfast (just found Joyce Goldstein’s recipe for single-serving rice pudding -fantastic!), and homemade potato soup.