This summer, I started monitoring my spending a lot more (big fan of the YNAB app!) and noticed one area where I could make some significant cutbacks: lunch. I was spending somewhere between $30-60 a week on lunches, mostly because I would go to Fairway or Whole Foods and end up picking up unnecessary items in addition to my lunch. So I made a change–I decided to start bringing my own lunch to work again. Nothing fancy, usually pretty simple ingredients that I prep on Sundays and can toss together to create a meal daily. Like this sweet potato, lentil, spinach combo:
This isn’t any crazy new advice. I’ve been recommending to clients for years to meal prep and bring balanced lunches to work as a way to both save money and control their food choices. Positive things, right? Sure, except after a few weeks, I started to notice a downside to following my own advice with this new lunchtime routine. I was never leaving the office and most days, not taking a break from my work at all. I was saving money, but losing my sanity. Eating lunch at your desk is not the best idea for a multitude of reasons (check out a great post on this from Anne), and for me the most harmful one is that I wasn’t getting a mental break. I was still answering the phone, responding to e-mails, etc. I would tell myself I’d work through lunch and take an afternoon break, but that never happened. The energy of the office and the constant feeling of being plugged in was getting to me. I was getting cranky and frustrated and became unproductive. It was time for a change.
The solution? Get outside! I’m now making it a priority to leave my desk around lunchtime everyday and take a walk. Luckily for me, we have a great walking trail near the office that I can take advantage of. I’ve come to realize that my body and brain crave nature and fresh air and just a few minutes outside each day has worked wonders for my mental game!
I’m still bringing lunch (the majority of the time) and eating it in the office, but the rejuvenation time I’m taking before or after I do so has been a life changer. A key part of this new lunchtime habit has been filling my boss and co-workers in on it. Everyone now knows I’m on a budget, so I don’t feel pressured into ordering food when the rest of the office does. My boss has become used to me leaving for 30-45 minutes each day for my “me time”. And as a bonus, since I come back from my lunchtime walks with a clearer mind and better energy, I’m more productive too!
If you find yourself stuck in a similar low-energy rut, I highly recommend taking some time in the middle of the day to rejuvenate any way you can. It’s a small change that can make a huge difference in your health and happiness!
Do you bring lunch or buy? Eat at your desk or get outdoors? Tell me about it!