What is the cost of convenience?
The smell, the taste, the good company, the service, and most of all the convenience of going out to eat all make it such an enjoyable experience. Like many Americans, my favorite pastime is food! I love trying different recipes, I love the experience of tasting something new, and I love it even more when someone else makes the meal for me. After being a waitress for six years, my taste buds got a little spoiled—as did the rest of me, as I never had to cook any of the food myself.
Once I retired as a waitress and started running a business full time with my husband, it didn’t take long to pay the price of convenience. We loved each other’s company more than anything else, but we would get coffee in the morning, lunch around noon, and then on the way home grab more food and have dinner together. After doing this for about a year we noticed our waistlines were getting bigger—but our bank account, well, not so much.
We started really paying attention to where our money was going and realized we were spending at least $300 a month on food outside our home. Coffee alone was $60 a month. That’s crazy!
So we decided to jump on the band wagon of “meal prepping.” I noticed how simple it was to buy a bunch of plastic containers and make 8-10 meals for the week. That alone would save me a minimum of $50 a week. But because I was so routine with our meals for about a month, I noticed my husband started sneaking fast food again a few times a week. After stopping and starting over again and again, I started to notice a trend: If it’s boring, we get burnt out, just like with anything else.
The most important thing I can say about taking a lunch on the go is to be creative. There are so many wonderful things we can do with simple ingredients. We have all been guilty of it at one time or the other. We have all said it and we have all heard it: “I don’t have time.”
“I don’t have time” was a very frequent phrase out of my mouth. Like I said, we have all been guilty of saying that, but we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Since we usually have Sunday dinner with family every week, I started trying to figure out things to cook that could also be used for the week. That saved me a lot of time. We can call them intentional left-overs. It made it easier to prepare meals and add sides to my prep dishes. Along with more food ready to go in my fridge, I also started keeping quick and filling things I could eat all around me. I have a stash of snacks in my office and in my car. That way I can easily grab something satisfying without all the processed food and extra spending.
The best part for us as busy parents, spouses, and business owners is we really get to treat ourselves once in a while. Instead of spending carelessly all the time, we can spend more without the guilt on special outings and dinners that can be planned or spontaneous. I believe with any discipline you deserve reward.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]“Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.” – Julie Andrews[/su_pullquote]
To keep it simple, here is our recipe for meals on the go:
1. Be creative.
In a world controlled by the internet, there are millions of recipes that are quick and easy. You can make great salads that are good for you and delicious. My husband loves the crock pot! He believes it is the easiest was to cook large portions without all the other hassle and dishes. There are no limits.
2. Be prepared.
After eating salads for a couple weeks, you may relapse to fast food like we did. I wasn’t getting satisfied anymore. I bought a small microwave and put it under my desk. No one can see it, but that microwave has made such a difference in the variety of our meals. As entrepreneurs we need to live a healthy lifestyle if we want to keep our energy levels high—and while I admit I am not a health expert, when we cook at home we know exactly what we are eating, whereas when someone else cooks we just don’t know.
3. Make time.
I agree with the phrase “time is money.” Just like in our business and parenting life, time is designated when it comes to eating. We have special time set with our son and time that is just for business. Cooking on Sunday night and Thursday night became a habit that is now a routine. Sometimes we get home late, so it’s nice to not have to stay up and cook every night.
4. Treat yourself.
Throw a few cookies in that bag. Maybe even a couple pieces of candy. When we work hard to accomplish something—even when it’s uncomfortable at first—the reward is so much better.
No matter how good of a cook I may become, I will always love food so much more when someone else does the dirty work for me. But through these simple steps, my husband and I have built a routine that benefits both our waistlines and our wallets.
Do you have a lunch packing recipe? Please share!