In The Red: Packed lunches might even buy me a new pair of shoes

two weeks ago I made a promise that I would soon regret: I wrote – in this very column, for all my friends, colleagues and readers to see – that I would start packing my own lunch rather than forking out at a café.

At the time it seemed like a good idea. After all, it doesn't take a genius to see that home-made fare will always be cheaper than eating out.

But by Monday I was kicking myself. What had I been thinking, committing like that in a national newspaper? Now people would check up on me. Before I left for work my mother called. "Have you got your lunch?" she sang down the phone. Well, at least she reads my column.

I don't, admittedly, have the best record as far as packed lunches are concerned. Many a home-made snack has been left abandoned in favour of a trip to the local café – or even, on occasion, the work canteen (yes, abandoned for the canteen).

Even as a schoolgirl I struggled. Unpacking my own (perfectly respectable) meal, I'd be overcome with jealousy looking at what others had. We often swapped, much to the annoyance of our parents. Particularly rebellious days would mean a trip to the tuck shop, and the covert dumping of an uneaten sandwich.

The problem, really, is that packed lunches seem so very joyless – too much tinfoil, soggy bread and bruised fruit. Making one requires time, patience and, most troubling of all for someone like me, organisation. And when you work in an office where most people eat out, they can be horribly antisocial.

But this time I had no choice. After committing in print, I could hardly back out. So, reservations or not, I did it: I made a packed lunch. Every day. For two weeks. Well, almost – I forgot on day nine.

And you know what? It was fine. In fact, it was more than fine: it was terrific. I'm a complete convert. All those associations that packed lunches had held for me – the tinfoil, the time-consumption, the boring food, all of them – were dispelled. Every single one.

Firstly, they tasted good. In fact, they were much tastier than anything bought from the supermarket – and at least as good as anything from the nearby cafés (not to mention the canteen).

Each day I could have precisely what I wanted – be that roasted vegetables, cous-cous, or a spinach and feta salad – without having to pick out anything I didn't (or shouldn't) want.

I'm sure they were healthier, too. We're always being warned about the salt and sugar content of restaurant food – making my own meal meant I could avoid that, as well as allowing a degree of portion control.

I didn't even have to spend much time preparing. So long as I made them straight after work, they simply became part of my routine: home, change, supper, lunch, relax. At any rate, my lunches so often entailed bits of leftover dinner that, really, packing them was just part of clearing up.

Perhaps the best part, though, came when I managed to rope in my friend Rachel to make the whole thing less lonely – something I would definitely recommend doing.

Rachel rapidly re-branded our meals "eco-lunches" (she meant it as in "economy", but I thought she meant "eco-friendly" in that vague, trendy kind of way – which was fine by me). By day two, the concept had assumed a life of its own. "We're eco-lunching," we'd say smugly. "Have you got your eco?" We sounded ridiculous, but at least there were two of us.

Finally – and crucially – they were cheap. Very cheap. I knew that would happen – but it was thrilling nonetheless. The ingredients for a whole week cost what I would usually spend in two days, and I started bringing in my own water instead of buying a bottle in the canteen.

By day 14, I had saved £35 – more than enough for the following week's lunch. And almost enough for a new pair of shoes...

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

    £15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory