Monday, May 2, 2011

i forgot my lunch!!

I was headed to my bus stop this morning when I realized I'd left my super-awesome-healthy lunch (veggies, homemade hummus & fruit for dessert) on the kitchen counter.


If I turned back, I'd have to drive my car to work (no thanks; I like taking the bus, which is cheaper, saves my car the wear-and-tear and is better for our little environment here).

That was challenge no. 1: realizing I'd have to go out into the consumer food world and make the right decision when my plans had suddenly changed. (Plans do me a world of good. When I make a plan, I generally stick to it. No plan? Who knows ...)

Challenge No.2: I've recently tightened up our budget. One of the financial corners I've tidied is our willy nilly spending ... the coffee here, the workday lunch there. It adds up!

But I definitely want Patrick and I to enjoy ourselves. So I'm taking cash out each month for each of us to carry around. Once it's out, the month's treats are done. My monthly allotment? Twenty bucks. And it's only May 2.

So I've got the unplanned, consumer food world ahead of me, and I don't wanna spend too much money. And of course I want to be healthy.

and then, a big duh

Whenever I think of buying my lunch, I think of going to a restaurant. My options within walking distance of work (cause, remember: I took the bus)?

Cici's Pizza (salad bar plus a few slices, which always ends up being too much bad food).

Panera (which has healthy options, but always ends up costing too much money).

And that's basically it. The other options are either clearly overpriced or unhealthy.

AND THEN DUH IT HIT ME: I have a grocery option. Within walking distance. Sure, it's through some awkward, big parking lots. But it's a place full of healthy, cheap food options!

How is this the first time I've considered it?

In any case, as immediately as that option popped had in my head, I also thought to scour the shelves for the best and cheapest lunch option, to serve as my consummate back-up plan for the days I invariably forget a lunch or we've come to the end of our in-stock healthy options at home (it happens!).

With that in mind, I trekked to the grocery looking for savory, high-protein options, plus a little something sweet. I came back with (about):

» 1/5 lb. green beans ($0.33)
» 1/3 lb. sweet potato ($0.27)
» 1/3 lb. red potato ($0.32)
» 1/3 lb. roma tomatoes ($0.77)
» 1/2 lb. banana ($0.24)
» 1/2 lb. apple ($0.72)

total: $2.72 (including tax)

As I was been filling my arms with goods, I actually thought "OK, this is gonna start getting expensive," but I definitely wanted to make sure I brought enough food back to be satisfied (hungry Lindsay is kinda ... a grump).

I'd also expected to seek out something hearty in the bakery (bread) or dairy (cheese?) departments, but I'd forgotten all about sweet potatoes! Filling, delicious, nutritious.

I plan to heat the potatoes in the microwave and see if I can find a little something fatty in the work fridge (butter or dressing) to sprinkle on top along with salt. The rest? I'll crunch on raw.

I'm kinda stoked and proud to have found a healthy (cheap!) back-up plan!

PS: Bonus? I got fresh air, the walk was long enough to feel invigorating (including a pretty steep climb on the way back to work), and I drink lots of water during the jaunt.


  1. I've missed your posts way too much! That's a really cheap and healthy lunch. It's so nice to get out and walk during the work day.. it's very peaceful. I make coffee runs all the time and get a little exercise in too :]

    Good luck with the budget. We're doing the same thing and while it's hard, it definitely pays off. I use this really simple budget sheet and it has really helped us:

  2. Thank you so much, Anastasia! I'm slowly building up steam to keep this up. I'm coming to believe it's actually one of the tools that helps keep me on track.

    In any case, I love that budgeting tool! I'm pretty excellent at creating formulas and making plans, but when it comes to making something that's easy for me *and* my husband to use religiously, I have a harder time. Thank you for the link!