I recently started tracking my spending. I got all excited, picturing my dream house (note: house not apartment) and realised that I better start saving. And the first step to creating a budget? Tracking your income and expenses.
Day one went pretty smoothly: coffee, groceries, a snack on my way home from work. Day two there was a sale on at Bendon Lingerie (I needed new bras) and I had dinner with friends. Day three I was running late and had no leftovers so I bought breakfast and lunch out; I donated to a charity. And so the week went, coffee, snacks, groceries, lunch. Spend, spend, spend.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Literally hundreds. And you know what was the biggest culprit (aside from bills)? Yep, eating out.
But becoming a hermit and staying in for every meal is boring. And in the words of Margaret Fuller, “Men, for the sake of getting a living, forget to live.” So what’s the answer? Cut back on “dining out” solo. Along with social engagements, I racked up quite a bit simply from being unorganised. And since there’s a lot less joy in grabbing a takeaway sandwich to eat at my desk than gas bagging with my gal pals over a vino, this is where I need to cut back.
But apparently I’m not the only one. According to new research from ING DIRECT, Australians spend $8.3 billion on work lunches each year. So, we spoke to nutritionist and Channel 9’s health and fitness expert, Amelia Phillips for a helping hand. Aside from mastering the art of meal prep, she says stocking your pantry with long-lasting, versatile ingredients can make a big difference. Having these key staples on hand can make it easy to throw together a last-minute lunch.
Goats curd keeps longer than some other goats cheeses; it also adds so much flavour and can be used in salads, or as a spread. Goats curd also has less salt than traditional Feta cheese. + Recipes to try
You could have Japanese, you could have Thai or you could have a simple salad, brown rice is essential. When cooked, it’ll last in the fridge for the whole week so it’s a staple when you’re feeling unimaginative while planning your #saddesklunch. + Recipes to try
As with brown rice, vermicelli noodles are a great base to build your lunch on. They are delicious hot or cold, work well with soy sauce and other pantry staples, and they’re super filling. + Recipes to try
We don’t have to sell you on the nutritional benefits of quinoa (read: contains all essential amino acids aka protein, protein, protein) so here are some other reasons it’s great. Uncooked quinoa has a shelf life of about two to three years and when cooked, it’ll last in the fridge for a week. If you cook up a big batch on the weekend, it’ll last in the fridge for the whole week. It’s great in salads and is surprisingly versatile. Plus, it goes with sweet as well as savoury if you felt like a berry nut bowl for a change. + Recipes to try
Tinned legumes, like chickpeas and lentils, are cost effective, versatile, packed with protein, and are thought to have an anti-inflammatory effecton the gut. Keep a broad range of options in the pantry and you’ll always be prepared. + Recipes to try
If chosen correctly, store-bought wraps are one of our favourite throw-together lunch options. They taste amazing when toasted and they’re perfect for those times when you’re sick of salad but still want something light. Read the label to find the best one. + Recipes to try