Love Your Lunch
We can all agree that being a student is pretty great. Flexible schedules; few real-life responsibilities; living away from home – it sounds amazing! However, our bank accounts tend to tell a different story. Between tuition, rent, textbooks, and entertainment, our budget for food can be pretty tight. As we all know, the food on campus is amazing, but without a student card, it can get expensive to constantly purchase meals on campus. Bringing your own lunch to campus may seem like a pain, but trust me, it’ll save you valuable dollars that you can spend on books or clothes, or saving for that spring break trip! Here are a few ideas and strategies to get you started:
Having a lunch or snack that is portable is the most important! Something that can be easily packed in your bag not only encourages you to bring a lunch or snack to campus more often, but also makes it easier. The university has a bunch of microwaves all over campus (the UC, Bullring, MINS lounge, LA Pit to name a few!), so reheating a meal is not an issue. Having a variety of Tupperware containers definitely come in handy for packing lunches, and can make just about any meal portable and spill proof!
Leftovers and Batch Cooking
Leftovers make packing a lunch incredibly easy. Coming from someone who clings to every last second before the alarm goes off, having leftovers allows you to still hit the snooze button while having time to pack a lunch. When cooking dinner the night before, make a little extra and put it into a to-go container after it’s cooled. Then, all you have to do is grab it and go the next morning. Cooking meals in a large batch is also a simple way to make enough lunches to last you most of the week. Creating a large portion of a recipe on Sunday night and dividing it into various containers will make bringing your own lunch a breeze!
Make it the Night Before
One of the oldest tricks in the book is making your lunch the night before. Yawn, I know, but it totally works! Taking a little bit of time at night to pack a healthy and balanced lunch will seem a lot less burdensome than making it the morning of. However, if you are a morning person, adding 10-15 minutes to your morning routine will decrease all the running around and provide enough time to make a lunch for campus.
Bringing a lunch to campus will definitely help to save you money, but you always have to consider food safety! If food sits at warm temperatures for too long, bacteria can grow in it and you could become sick from it. Investing in an ice pack will help to ensure that all perishable food items (such as diary products and meat) stay at proper temperature so that bacteria will be unable to grow. Freezing is also a great option to make sure your food stays cold. If you freeze hummus in single serving containers or use frozen berries on top of yogurt, they will defrost in your backpack over time so that when you are ready to eat it, it is still cold.
So now that you have some tips on how/when to make lunch, what exactly do you make? Just about everything you can buy on campus you can make at home! Craving a hot plate of pasta? Microwaves on campus make it simple to bring your own and heat it up when you get hungry. Salad bar catching your eye? Salads are not only nutritious but you can mix it up so it’s a little different each time. Just remember to pack the dressing in an extra container to keep the lettuce crisp. Feeling like a sub? Waking up a few minutes early to make a sandwich will save you tons of money over time. If you’re a tomato fan, remember to put the tomato in the middle of the sandwich so it’s not touching the bread, which can make it soggy!
Don’t forget to treat yourself once in awhile though! Bringing your own lunch will definitely help keep a few extra dollars in your pocket, but UoG is rated #1 in food for a reason, so spare a bit of money every once in awhile to buy something tasty if you can.