Let's be serious. This economic climate means this is not the time, nor the place to be going out to lunch everyday. Those $8 burritos, $6 burgers, and $9 salads will start to add up to some serious money in no time.
Besides the slow and steady hit your wallet is taking from your daily lunch habit, think of all the styrofoam containers and plastic forks that are piling up out there. And with all of us on this planet it's adding up way too quickly. So what's the best way to save a buck and do your part at stopping the rising tide of plastics at the same time? Go old-school and brown bag it.
If you do decide to take your own lunch to work (or maybe you already are) don't just shove your leftover lentil salad into that scratched plastic Tupperware you've got hanging around. With the EU and Canada banning certain chemicals found in plastics and reports coming out left and right that plastics can leach toxins and mess with your hormones, consider an alternative. Check out these great green alternatives for carting food.
Simple glass containers with snap on rubber or plastic lids are easy to find and come in a variety of sizes. This is a good option for people who like to reheat their food in a microwave. As a bonus, glass doesn't warp or get those funky mystery stains that plastic does, meaning that these options will last you longer. Plus, food just tastes better in glass. Try manufacturers such as Anchor Hocking, Pyrex, and Bormioli Rocco
Apparently those tiny disposable Ziploc baggies can take anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years to breakdown in a landfill. And when they do start to break down they release nasty chemicals into the soil. For fruit slices or a sandwich try a cloth bag. There are many different handcrafted types (both lined and unlined) that can be found on etsy.com like the ones here, here, and here.
How about a super stylish stainless steel stacked tiffin carrier with a tiny little "sidekick" for sauce or toppings. In my world, this is almost as cool as a motorcycle with a sidecar. This stainless lunch jar system from zojirushi.com will keep your food hot or cold for up to six hours.
If you want to completely avoid plastic try a 100-percent stainless steel containers with bright stainless lids from lunchbots.com.
Even if you do buy your lunch regularly, consider keeping a set of metal utensils from home in your desk or get a handy rollup from bambooya.com that includes a fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks, all made from renewable bamboo. There's no reason to pick up a disposable plastic set every time you go out.
Bringing your lunch to work in glass, cloth, or metal is one small change that is friendly for your wallet, friendly for your body, and friendly for the earth! Any others that we left out?