According to an Accounting Principles survey, employed Americans spend an average of $7.40 per weekday on lunch and an average of $3.85 on coffee. When you do the math, it comes out to $3,000 a year on lunch and coffee alone!

That’s reason enough for me to brown bag my lunch starting today. Planning ahead and packing your lunch every day might not offer the same reprieve as leaving the office to sit down with your favorite co-workers for a relaxing meal, but the rewards of packing bagged lunches far outweigh the hassles of meal planning and preparation.

In yogic philosophy -- more specifically, in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the yamas and niyamas are guides to living a clean and correct life. In an oversimplified explanation of the main tenets of The Yoga Sutras, the yamas are “the don’ts” and the niyamas are “the do’s” of correct living (dharma). The fourth yama is brahmacharya, or moderation. The literal translation of this Sanskrit word is “being established in divine consciousness." 

Western interpretations of this yama instruct devotees to refrain from gluttony, worldly temptations, attachment to material possessions, animalistic lust, over-spending, and general debauchery in an attempt to live a mode of life which leads to the realization of God. To practice brahmacharya as a yogi (as opposed to a religious devotee), one must practice self-restraint and moderation in a realistic way. No one expects you to become celibate and deny all material possessions, but we can practice moderation to the best of our ability when we see an opportunity to do so -- in thoughts, actions, and words.

Back to the fact that we frivolously spend $10 a day on lunch and coffee. Here’s an opportunity to eradicate gluttony and over-spending with one simple move: pack your lunch. Bagging your lunch can cost less than $2 per day when you buy food in bulk. Drink from the office coffee pot, and that’s a potential annual savings of $2,480!  

Have you ever had a lunch break in which you overindulged a bit, leaving you tired and lethargic for the rest of the day? What you are eating is just as important as how much you spend on your lunch. Eating simple foods in small portions that you prepare yourself will keep your energy up. Refrain from too much gluten, processed foods, frozen meals, refined carbs (like white bread), and energy drinks -- these baddies will lead to the energy dips, mood swings, and fatigue. Instead, prepare salads and vegetable-based meals like stews, and don’t forget fruit for snacks or dessert. Plentiful fiber will help keep you full until close of business. If you can tolerate gluten, choose whole wheat and brown rice. Filtered water in a reusable bottle will keep costs low and help to protect Mother Earth (in my experience, most offices don’t have recycling bins). When planning your meals, the trite adage: “you are what you eat” rings true on both a physical and philosophical level when referring to lunch box contents. If you eat heavy foods that are hard to digest (a burger and fries, for example), you will be slow and sluggish. Eating light and wholesome meals made from Sattvic foods will provide “goodness and purity” -- sustained energy and a stabilized mood throughout the work day. To reap all of the benefits a wholesome bagged lunch has to offer, take your lunch outside when the weather is nice. At the very least, you will want to eat away from your desk to give your brain a break! You’ll end up being more productive and you won’t get crumbs on your keyboard!

What do you pack in your brown bag for your lunch break? What tricks and tips have you found useful in saving money during the workweek?

By: Jessica Adams (G+)