Money Saving Monday–You Need to Buy a Lunch Box

Readers, I’m not going to lie, I hate buying lunch if I’m not going to eat it with other people. I have no idea why this is, though I have some theories.

Theory One: As a former overweight child, teen, and adult, I always assume that people are watching me eat. Judging me. Without my wall of people who love me and are eating far grosser things than whatever I picked out from the menu (Mike) I have no buffer for their criticisms. “Oh, she bought her lunch? And she’s eating THAT? Oh, she should NOT be eating that.” At least when I pack my lunch, the “Oh my god, what is she eating?” question becomes legitimate, since I currently have a snack bag that looks like this: Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
It’s entirely likely that I could sell this to an idiot freshman for like thirty bucks.

Theory Two: Pretty much anything I could buy is either 1.Expensive 2.Unhealthy or 3.Gross. Typically, since I am a college student, it will be any random combination of the three. Oh yes, I could buy that Dorito taco thing all the commercials are talking about it, but the price would be very dear. Very, very dear. To my colon. Owie.

Do you see my problem? It’s not a good problem. I have the options of 1.Going Hungry and 2.Trying my luck at whatever slop is being served in my general vicinity while simultaneously panicking that everyone is watching me eat (because, you know, people do that), which is bad because I’m almost certainly going to have some gastrointestinal distress from whatever it is I’m eating any minute now, making it a bad time for everyone and her mom to be watching me.

I’m a hoot a dinner parties.

That being said, I’m a big believer in packing your own lunch. It gives you the ultimate control over both your budget and you nutrition. When you pack a lunch you get to choose:

1. How much you will spend. The rates for the things you have in your fridge are not subject to anything, so you know how much that lunch will cost you. You have no idea what the cafeteria or local restaurant is going to charge you day to day. Rates at the restaurants change, but your PBJ will be as reliable as the gastrointestinal distress caused by eating anything that combines the words “dorito” and “taco.”

2. What you will eat. It is so, so easy to not eat a Dorito Taco in your kitchen, because you don’t have any. At least, I really hope you don’t. The same can not be said for the real world. Picture this–you are on break and starving and you have nothing to hold you over till dinner later. You duck into the closest restaurant you can find and look over the menu. You find you are somehow craving the spice of a flavored tortilla chip as well as the savoriness of what may or may not be “meat”. Hey, they have just that on the menu! Perfect!

Packing your lunch can take some extra time, but in my house it’s usually as easy as throwing whatever leftovers we had from the night before into some containers and going on my merry way. In a matter of minutes I saved myself $2 and some severe pain from not stopping at my local Taco Bell.

(Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for Taco Bell, but that time is sometime after the bars close and that place is wherever your DD is willing to take you.)

For those of you complaining about the extra dishes from packing your own lunch, I don’t want to hear it! You jerks probably have dishwashers and I’ve been forced to do my own for the past fourteen years! Don’t you talk to me about dishes!

These lunches don’t have to be boring, though! I would be lying if I said I didn’t eat a LOT of PB&J for packed lunches, but I certainly don’t eat them every day! Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Pack up last night’s leftovers. Easiest lunch ever.
2. Make some granola bars to have on hand whenever hunger hits but you shouldn’t buy chips.
3. Try this sandwich filling.
4. Or don’t have a sandwich at all and pack one of these with some nuts, chopped veggies, and fruit.
5. Take a whole wheat hot dog bun. Slather it with peanut butter and place a banana where the hot dog would normally go. Best. Vegan. Hot Dog. Ever.
6. This is the smartest way to pack a salad I’ve ever seen.
7. Pack a boatload of snacks! My favorite lunches are usually things like crackers, veggies, hummus (for the dipping) and fruit. None of those are “meal time” foods, but why should they have to be? A well balanced snack makes for an awesome well balanced meal.
8. Don’t forget your treat. 🙂

Honestly, packing is as easy or hard as you make it, and as boring as fun as you make it. Just make sure that whatever you’re making, it’s balanced, will give you enough energy, and is satisfying. Because god help us, there are Dorito Tacos in the world.

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