If you work full time, it might be easier to grab lunch with your coworkers. This is fast and convenient, but not necessarily healthy. And even if you seek healthy lunch alternatives, you may discover that healthy foods are more costly than fast food.
There is no reason to sacrifice your health in order to save a buck. You might not be able to afford gourmet healthy foods, but there are ways to eat healthier at work and save money.
#1 Plan Your Lunch Around Fruits and Vegetables
You don't necessarily need meat and carbs to get through your workday. The truth is, planning your meals around fruits and vegetables can be equally feeling. If you feel that it's too expensive to bring frozen meals to work, or if you don't want to eat a sandwich every day, go to the grocery store or your local farmers market and stock up on healthy fruit and vegetables, such as apples, oranges, bananas, or seasonal selections such as peaches and strawberries.
Additionally, purchase veggies like carrots and broccoli. You can steam them at home the night before, or eat these selections raw. A light healthy dip can add flavor and variety to your lunches.
To further reduce your lunch budget, do not purchase pre-cut fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. These are convenient, but they'll cost more than whole selections.
#2. Buy Food in Bulk and Split the Cost With a Coworker
It's cheaper to buy fruits, vegetables and lean proteins (tuna and chicken) in bulk. Since you're eating healthier -- and lighter -- you might need a snack to get over the 3 PM slump. Rather than waste money at the vending machine, consider healthy alternatives. For example, you can purchase nuts, crackers, or kettle chips. For greater savings, also buy these items in bulk. You'll pay less per unit; and since the items are nonperishable, they'll last for several weeks or months. If you shop at a grocery club, go in with a coworker and split the cost. This way, both of you can prepare healthy food for work while saving money.
#3 Focus on Staple Foods
Pasta and rice are inexpensive. Both selections can translate into easy, healthy lunches for work. Add fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and salad dressing to create a healthy pasta salad, or chop up a few vegetables and prepare yourself a rice bowl.
#4 Look for Other Opportunities to Save
Watch for grocery store sales. Stock up on fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meats, and other healthy lunch alternatives when items are on sale. Also, consider starting your own garden at home. You don't need a backyard or a lot of space. In fact, you can grow many fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes and carrots from your windowsill, providing there's plenty of sunlight. A pack of seeds cost only a few bucks, yet your garden can yield enough produce for multiple lunches.
The decision to get healthy is commendable, and with a plan and a careful menu, you can prepare healthier, affordable selections for work.
Image Credit [Flickr]