Eating out for lunch on a working weekday can sometimes be an expensive affair as eating places around the office tend to charge higher rates. This is often worse if your office is in some remote location and the eateries know they have a monopoly in that area.
Unfortunately for the consumers, when it comes to prices what goes up will never come down. Whatever food prices that were raised after the petrol hike will never come down again although the petrol price has been recently lowered again. So how can one save on their lunches?
By packing your own lunch!
Preparing a lunch bento or packed lunch is a very popular thing in Japan where lots of people carry bentos to work. It is not difficult to do and usually requires only an additional 20 to 30 minutes in the morning to cook or heat up your food and lay it out. A bento lunch is also a healthier lunch as you know exactly what goes in there and are able to control your portion sizes if aiming for weight loss.
For those who are keen to try their hand at preparing a bento, here are some handy tips:
- Have a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, protein and vegetables – In general, try to go for a 1:1:1 ratio of each food group. However, if you wish to have a lighter lunch, increase the vegetable ratio and reduce your carbohydrates.
- Use leftovers – Leftovers are very useful in preparing a bento. It only takes several minutes to heat up some leftovers in the morning which become a very handy and delicious lunch.
- Avoid cut fruit – While cut fruit looks very pretty in a bento, often the vitamins are all gone by the time you eat them. Hence, it is better to include whole fruit such as an apple or orange.
- Separate the wet and dry – Some bento boxes come with separators. Use those to keep your wet food away from your dry or separate them in different boxes. You can mix them easily during your lunch.
- Insulate your food – Food can be kept insulated in special keep warm bags or thermos jars if one is concerned about food spoilage. In general, food prepared during the morning usually lasts till lunch. If possible, try to cool your food before packing it. However, to be on the safe side, avoid packing food that spoils easily such as food with coconut milk.
- Bento boxes – While there are some very cute bento boxes available on the market, any box such as Lock & Lock boxes, Tupperware or Rubbermaid storage boxes will do perfectly for a bento lunch.
- Use a pretty bento bag – It will make your lunch such a joy to look forward to!
Preparing a bento or packed lunch will save you lots of money and ensure you are eating healthier food. In your money saving journey, you might even find yourself losing weight from the healthy lunches!
So go bento today!