I don’t know about you, but for me, eating out is a temptation that I am constantly battling. It’s a hard fight to win because prepping meals, cleaning up and eating the same thing 2 days in a row are not fun. It’s more convenient to just have someone else prepare the meals and it’s even better to have variety. So the lure of the taco truck or the salad bar is strong. But how do you fight to win?
For me the first step to winning to plan ahead. If you are trying to figure out what you will bring for lunch at 6:30 in the morning, you are guaranteed to fail. There is not enough time to decide and make anything, let alone something appealing to your taste buds. Prepare and pack your lunch the day before so the concept of brining your own lunch to work does not become a source of frustration.
Since you are planning in advance, it does not make sense to continue packing the same kind of lunch that your mom used to pack for you in elementary school. Give up on peanut butter sandwiches and apples. Give yourself permission to be creative and adventurous. You are more likely to eat the lunch you pack if you are looking forward to it. Learn to make “salad in a jar”, bring in some chili during the winter and add some spice to your workday with some fajita bowls. I am saying this out of personal experience. Whenever I have something fantastic in my lunch bag and I get an invite from my co-workers to go to lunch, I say, “thank you but I’m not tempted today!” The opposite is also true. The blander the food and the more I’ve eaten it in the past few days, the more likely I am to be swayed in favor of the best sub shop or Thai in town.
My plan also includes understanding that I will not succeed at bagging my own lunch every time. This is all part of planning ahead. If I accept that some days I cannot bring lunch, I will most likely know when that is and make an effort to plan around it. For example, if I know that I only have enough food for me to bring in on Monday and Tuesday it’s easy for me to take advantage of ½ priced pizzas on Wednesdays. I can’t take advantage of a good deal if I don’t plan and measure my food in advance. Also, it does me no good to take advantage of a deal if I end up wasting money if the food I make ends up in the garbage just to get a discount at a sub shop.
What are your meal prep tips? What’s your favorite lunch to spice up the work week and curb the expensive temptation of eating out?