Take a packed lunch and save a bunch
Reading the latest Buffer blog post about the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs have made (and what they have learned from them) one comment really struck a chord. Tim Ferriss said “If you’re not 100% excited, say no”. As someone who hates confrontations and likes to be liked I have a very hard time saying no. I’m also an optimist and can often see a lot of potential in things that deep down I know I’m either really too busy for or will take me away from things I’d rather prioritise. As Tim’s post goes onto say:
If you’re not 100% excited, it should be a decline.
‘Kinda cool’ will fill up your calendar and leave you wondering where the last year – or 10 – went.
I’m printing off that bold sentence and pinning it above my desk to keep me on track, because of late I’ve made a real effort to say no to things that are not 100% exciting. But when Cashy.me approached me to contribute a week’s worth of packed lunch ideas for UAE Saves Week I knew I had to say yes. The whole initiative is well-organised, worthwhile and just that – 100% gets my pulse racing.
Most outsider views of Dubai give a very polarised snapshot – gleaming buildings, billionaires, fast cars, gold, shopping, and people paid a pittance to construct the place. There is a grain of truth in all of this but it’s so far from painting the whole picture. This bio from a Telegraph journalist and writer who lives here always puts a smile on my face:
Annabel Kantaria is a journalist who moved to Dubai long before most people knew where it was. She doesn’t ride a camel to work; has never seen a gold-plated golf buggy and only rarely has pink champagne for breakfast.
With local Emiratis making up less than 20% of the population this is a vibrant, multi-cultured and multi-faceted place feeling the influence of so many different expat cultures and income groups. While a very small elite group of the population may not have to budget, the majority of us have to watch our dirhams carefully. From the bag packer at the super market who gets paid 500 AED a month plus tips, to an expat like me reliant on my job and my husband’s small business to pay high rent for accommodation, school fees for two teens, healthcare and all the other expenses of life in Dubai.
Inevitably the first place to make savings is via the food bill. As my Mum always used to say “If we didn’t need to eat we’d be rich.”
An effective place to start is by cutting down ‘the latte effect’. If you add up how much you spend on drinks in one week while you are at work or on the move it can come as a surprise. Add in your expenditure on food and you can be looking at a sizeable amount. What other things could that money be used for? I’m sure you can think of many. So to get you inspired for UAE Saves week, here are:
10 top tips for packed lunches
- Start the day with a good breakfast. If your tummy is rumbling and you are fading fast by 11am, you’ll soon start drifting to the vending machine or doughnut counter.
- Plan ahead. Every weekend, have an idea of what you are going to pack for lunch each day. If you have to scrabble around looking for things at 7am, you are more likely to give up. Always have some emergency items in the cupboard that you can grab when time is tight.
- Prepare as much as you can the night before. It’s then easy to grab and run – especially if you are not a morning person.
- Dedicate half a day every couple of weeks to make things specially for your lunch box that you can freeze.
- Use leftovers from your supper the night before as a tasty lunch. Or cook more than you need to eat and freeze the extra for later.
- Pack the kind of things you like to eat. If you eat a triple-pounder everyday you are not likely to be satisfied with a small salad and an apple. Make a lunch that’s similar, for instance try a roast beef sandwich with mustard instead.
- Invest in some nice containers to take your lunch to work in. Make it look attractive. Soon you won’t be envying everyone who is off to the takeaway; they’ll be looking longingly at your lunch.
- Get away from your desk. If you walk to the takeaway normally, spend that extra time walking to a shady place outside where you can eat your lunch (weather permitting). Or eat your lunch then go for a stroll with your headphones on and some favourite music, so you feel refreshed.
- Remember that it’s not just money you are saving. Budget and mid-range restaurants are notorious for using cheap ingredients with lots of hidden salt. You can make your lunches cheaper, better and healthier. Save money and you might lose weight too.
- Make use of your office microwave – this is where leftovers from the night before get a new lease of life. If you can, keep some useful items at work like cutlery, sauces (such as hot sauce), napkins, a sharp knife for cutting fruit, salt and pepper.
I’ll be posting recipes and ideas that are great for packed lunches this week – some are already up on the Cashy.me site if you want to plan ahead. If you can only spare one day to participate, Monday 23rd September in Pack your lunch Monday. There are other non-food related, practical activities every single day starting from tomorrow. Find out what’s on each day here and don’t forget to use #UAEsaves on your pics, posts and tweets.
Do you take lunches to work? Will you join me for the tastiest part of UAE Saves Week 2013?