For the past three months, I’ve raved about how shopping at Trader Joe’s and eating healthy, low-carb lunches at the local food bar has saved me money. Last week, I decided to take it up a notch by bringing my lunch to work and avoiding the food bar altogether. You see, at $7.99 per pound, my scrumptious old lunches of salad greens, creamy seafood, avocado, grilled chicken and steamed Basa fillet were coming out to about $7 per day. Now, my lunches cost $4 per day and consist of Trader Joe’s precooked grilled chicken or chicken sausages, packaged guacamole, baby carrots, spinach and a banana. These new lunches take about ten minutes to prep and clean and save me $15 a week.
For now, I’m still testing to see if this new habit sticks. Despite being hassle-free, the meals lack the variety of the food bar. Nonetheless, I have yet to feel deprived and actually enjoy the extra time saved from walking outside to get food.
Eventually, I’d like to start cooking my own meals rather than buying precooked items, but that will have to wait until I get an apartment that has a kitchen (yes, these culinarily challenged units exist in Manhattan). Once I have what I need, I plan to cook in large quantities and freeze everything for the week like some of my coworkers.* Below are a few ideas that I’m excited to try:
- BBQ pulled pork
- beef chili
- baked tilapia
- roast turkey and gravy
- Southern style meatloaf
- teriyaki beef stir-fry
- General Tso’s chicken
- baked sweet potatoes**
- the occasional home-made pizza
- the occasional sloppy joe
*Despite our market-level lawyer salaries, there are quite a few savers at the firm!
** I’d like to stay mostly low-carb while incorporating a few healthy exceptions like brown rice, sweet potatoes and whole wheat bread.