We get it: Lunch is hard. But if you crunch the numbers on how much cash you’re spending on fancy prepared salads and fast food every day, you’ll see that not having a steady BYO lunch habit is hitting your wallet even harder. If “packed lunch” still makes you think of sad brown bags in your elementary school cafeteria, you’re doing it wrong. Here are seven tips for packing better lunches that will actually make you look forward to eating them every day.

Woman Working In Design Studio Having Lunch At Desk

1. Plan for leftovers. You already spent time cooking yourself an amazing dinner (on the one night you could find the time), so why not double or triple the recipe and pack up the extra portions while you’re doing the dishes? Some second-day meals like pasta can even be good cold. That means no need to wait for the shared office microwave.

2. Variety is the sauce of life. An easy way to mix up your meal options without having to prepare a variety of dishes is to start with a basic base, like grilled chicken breast, but douse it in a different sauce every day. Soy, barbecue, teriyaki… whatever you want!

Woman in the kitchen

3. Pick a night (or two) to devote to meal prep. The key to planning your meals is actually planning them. Designate a couple of nights each week where you make a big batch of food. It might mean your lazy Sunday is a little less lazy, but you’ll be happy you did it when you’re not scrambling for lunch ideas later.

4. Freeze your sandwiches. Channel your inner camp counselor and lay out rows of bread to make a bunch of PB&Js in no time, then pack them in sandwich bags and stick ’em in the freezer. Spread the peanut butter on both slices of bread to prevent the jelly from making everything soggy.

5. Set a lunch alarm. You have an alarm to wake up in the morning or remember important meetings. Why not set one up for your lunch? If you’ve got the packing part down but then always forget your lunch at home, set a daily reminder to go off before you head out the door.

Lunch box

6. Get some fun (and functional) containers. Speaking of packing up leftovers: Invest in quality storage containers that are small enough for individual portions, rather than just dumping everything into one big bowl you’ll have to scoop from later. If your lunch is already pre-packed and ready to go in the fridge, you’ll be more likely to actually take it with you. If you’re not a fan of different foods touching each other, you might even want to consider a bento box with separate compartments for each part of your meal.

7. Treat yo’self. When you were a kid, your packed lunch always included a snack. It doesn’t have to be any different just because your mom’s no longer sticking notes in with your sandwich. Packing yourself a treat will make you more excited to actually eat what you planned instead of going out.

What are your secrets to great packed lunches? Show us on Instagram with the hashtag #BritLunch!

(Photos via Getty)