Save time: Pack your lunch the night before

Show of hands- how many of you pack your lunch? Have you read my article about saving $2,000-$3,000 per year just by packing your lunch? I pack a lunch for Dave & myself the night before work because I found that it saves me SO much time. If you’ve been following Budget for Health for awhile, you’ve already taken a look inside my cute pink & white striped lunch box. Now I’ll share the process of lunch packing and how I knock it out in ten quick minutes.

Pack your lunch right after dinner
Some nights I’d put leftovers in a big container but morning comes along and I end up moving them from a big container to two little ones for Dave’s & my lunch, therefore unnecessarily dirtying a dish. Now I just scoop out leftovers into containers that will go right into our lunch bags. It also means you only do dishes once after dinner instead of after dinner and after packing lunch in the morning.

Plan ahead
To save even more time, I chop up a bunch of vegetables and put them in a big container so i can just grab a handful and throw them in a bag for lunch. This past Sunday I chopped up a honeydew melon, radishes, broccoli, and carrots.

Get everything you need out in the open
I wonder if this saves much on my energy bill. I used to open my fridge 23,489 times while I packed lunch because I’d forget to get something out, put one thing back at a time, and stare inside the fridge once I was done to see if I forgot anything else. I pull out every food item I’ll use, any silverware used to scoop or spread, and all the containers I need. I got a deal on the individual Ciobani yogurts this week but you’d usually see a 32-ounce container and mini Tupperware containers to put it in and top with some frozen fruit (<– did you see my cute muffin-portions of frozen chopped mango??).

get everything out you'll needSorry the picture of the final product below is a little dark. You can see Dave’s turkey & cheese sandwich, a PBJ (a must-have in every single lunch…that giant jar of PB was actually a gift from friends for Dave’s birthday. Did I mention we love peanut butter?), leftover Santa Fe Quinoa salad we made for a tailgate this weekend, veggies, hummus, and yogurt. It’s a ton of food, I know. The total for this lunch comes out to 1350 calories, 42g fat, 188g carbs, 61g protein. I should note that Dave eats this over the course of his 9.5 hour day at work…9am PBJ, 11:30 sandwich/fruit/veggies/hummus, 3pm quinoa/yogurt. He’s a bottomless pit, but he also needs about 3,000 calories per day to maintain that strong, handsome body of his 😉


What makes your lunch packing routine faster? What’s in your lunch for tomorrow?

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Author: budgetforhealth

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian and shares practical, useful tips on food, fitness and finance. Be sure to subscribe to her blog, Budget for Health!

10 thoughts on “Save time: Pack your lunch the night before”

    1. It’s a pain in the butt washing 627 pieces of Tupperware every day but I know it helps our budget and the environment. I’d recommend buying Tupperware sizes based on what you plan to pack. We have a couple glass dishes as well if we bring something to heat up at work.

  1. I’m lucky that I have to take my lunch due to the location of my work… if you don’t it’s doritos from the vending machine or something from your stash. I have started to take more and more snack type foods to leave at work, like a giant bag of baby carrots in the fridge, dried fruit, nuts, bags of apples, oatmeal and such.
    I like the point about making lunches immediately… I always kick myself when I make wraps for dinner and only make 2, then have to make 2 after dinner… just make four right away, self!
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