As a college student and working summer girl myself, I can attest to the fact that I think about what I'm going to have for lunch everyday more often than a person should. I question whether to make something at home or become undeniably tempted by the fact that I can just drive someplace to buy myself a nice meal- but this habit has just got to stop. I talk about this with my friends all the time, and they all have come to the conclusion that they spend most of their earnings on food or coffee, too- either by themselves or when we go out together. We love food, of course, but we all agree it should not get to this level of absurd.
Not only is this a problem for most college students, but mostly everyone in the working field or simply those who have their driver's license. Sure, we can all complain about how restaurants and cafes should lower their $10 lunch prices, but since that's not going to really give us a fast solution, I have finally come to my senses to write some helpful tips on just how you can keep from being so tempted from buying that Chipotle burrito for lunch or getting another Frappuccino from Starbucks.
1. Get into the habit of meal prep.
If you're like me and haven't gotten into this great habit, then you should start; and what better time is there to practice than the summer? Use Pinterest and Tasty videos to give you some ideas on what kind of meals you can cook for an entire week so the takeout won't even become an option. Plus, this practice is more often healthier than the alternative.
2. If you're not going out with friends, don't buy the food then.
I thought that this statement was a bit rhymey, so I thought it would be a nice saying to remember when you're next tempted to buy food. I gave myself this rule in the beginning of the summer since I tend to work everyday and don't feel like spending $10 on lunch five days a week. Eating out, or so much as getting coffee, is such a social thing to do, so why not save the cash for when you're actually going out with your friends? Sure, it's an excuse to not buy yourself something but you're just saving the money you're going to spend later on.
3. Start making meals with the everyday food items you already have at home.
This tip kind of has to do with meal prep, but these everyday food items may not require a full Sunday afternoon to prepare. For example: having bread and condiments like peanut butter and jelly can make you a sandwich once every week; hummus and baby carrots can offer a protein-filled and healthy lunch; even bagels you keep in your freezer can serve as a filling meal. The healthiness may range from one extreme to the other, but the convenience of already buying these items at the supermarket regularly saves you from buying something else to eat when you already have the ingredients at home.
4. Give yourself a budget/limit for every week.
This one may be obvious (or even annoying to work out), but it's effective nonetheless. Put aside a reasonable amount of money for eating out every week (I suggest $20) or even limit yourself to eating out only three times a week instead. Whether it be the amount of money or quantity of how many times you do eat out, it will definitely benefit your takeout habits over time.
5. Make it a "treat yourself" habit, not a regular one.
Being able to buy food from restaurants, delis or cafes is already a luxury, so why don't we treat it as such? Like how you would go out to eat with friends to hang out and catch up with one another, eating out should be a somewhat rare occasion. While this is close to impossible in today's world, force yourself to only eat out during those hangouts with friends or as a reward to yourself when applicable- just don't think this should be an every week ordeal.
6. Determine your actual hungriness levels better.
I'm going to let you in a not-so-secret fact: more times out of none, you aren't actually as hungry as you think you are; this causes you to buy or bring a full meal for lunch that you only eat half of. Instead of packing or buying full meals for your everyday lunch, gather some different snacks you already have at home and make that your lunch instead. From BOOMCHICKAPOP popcorn to Snyder's pretzels, the options can be way healthier and even more beneficial since you'll already have the snacks to munch on whenever you are actually hungry.
7. Leftovers are your new best friend.
Ever since I started college and became a commuter, I've noticed that not eating your whole dinner once you get home is a blessing in disguise. Eating only half of your dinner (only at times when you do get full very quickly!) and investing in to-go containers can save you a meal prep and money at the same time- just pop your unfinished dinner in the fridge and bring it to heat up as your lunch the next day! Of course, some foods don't make the cut (like margarita pizza or sushi), but you'll be able to practice this hack more often than you think.