6 Tips for Saving Money on Lunch (Even If You Eat Out All The Time!)

saving money on lunch at work - tips for busy women

2018 Update: We still stand by these tips on saving money on lunch at work — but you may also want to check out our most recent roundup of environmentally-friendly and stylish office lunch containers if you’re bringing lunch to work! 

Reader L has a question about lunchtime…

Could you perhaps do a post on bringing lunches to the office versus going out? I’m new to the 9-5 world, and eating out every day seems so expensive, but I don’t really know how to pack a lunch that will last me the entire workday. I don’t want to keep snack food in my desk because I don’t want to attract rodents, or eat mindlessly all day. It’s also difficult to say no when new co-workers invite you along for a frozen yogurt or coffee run – it’s adding up. How do you generally handle lunch during the work week?

We’ve talked about this a few times on this blog — how to eat to fuel your energy throughout the day, how to avoid gaining weight when you’re eating out a lot for recruiting season, how to diet at the corporate gig, what to eat when you have no time to eat, and what foodstuffs I consider “office staples.” I don’t think we’ve talked about it from a finances angle, though, so let’s do that.

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Thursday’s TPS Report: Kenneth Cole New York Structured Jacket

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Kenneth Cole New York Structured JacketiconWe’re liking this structured jacket by Kenneth Cole New York right now. We like the single button and long collar, and the padded shoulders look modern and on-trend, reminiscent of the sharper, almost comical Balmain shoulders. It’s $99 at Nordstrom in sizes 4-14. Kenneth Cole New York Structured Jacket
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Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.
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Review: CitySlips Ballet Flats

12018 Update: I’m still wearing my CitySlips, but they no longer seem to be available for sale. There are a ton of affordable foldable flats on Amazon or at your local drugstore, though — a great option for an upgrade is this foldable flat.

I had been curious about CitySlips (“foldable ballet flats for the well-heeled gal on the go!”) for a while, but never seemed to cross paths with them, so I was grateful when the nice ladies over at CitySlips sent me a gold pair to review.

I’ve still only worn them a few times, but they are impressive little things, I must say, and quite comfortable to wear around. They have stayed on my feet without flopping around (an amazing feat in and of itself) and they have surprisingly substantial foot support for something that folds in two. You’ll definitely feel cracks in the concrete and whatnot below you, but it isn’t a “bad” feeling so much as it is a “huh, that’s different” feeling.

So here’s the question that I always wondered about when I saw them advertised: will they replace my comfortable Reef flip flops that I’ve walked miles in, both to and from the office but also on the tail end of countless parties and dinners out? The ones with arch support? Well — the answer turns out to be both yes and no: sometimes they’ll replace my Reefs (handily) and other times I’ll still probably stick to my Reefs. Here’s how I’ll break it down…

City Slips for

  • keeping in a desk drawer or your bag for a day when you’re wearing higher-than-comfortable heels and need to run a quick 20-minute errand outside your office — they look more professional (and hide a bad/nonexistent pedicure).
  • nights out on the town — I am finally liberated from my huge purses that I used to carry to hold my Reefs!
  • any time I have a carefully-assembled outfit (the CitySlips are far more attractive)!

but I’ll keep my Reefs for

  • when I want to be able to walk miles
  • for weekend wear, probably
  • for an EXPECTED commute, not a “just in case” kind of thing — if only because I would want to keep my CitySlips pristine for professional wear!

They’re $24.95 at Amazon or  CitySlips.com (available in black, gold, and silver).

Readers, have you bought CitySlips or other commuting products?  What are your impressions?

Suit of the Week – Donna Karan

Donna Karan Belted Stretch-Wool Jacket & Pencil SkirtFor busy working women, the suit is often the easiest outfit to throw on in the morning. In general, this feature is not about interview suits, which should be as classic and basic as you get — instead, this feature is about the slightly different suit that is fashionable, yet professional.

Graphics aside (it’s like they’re trying to sell a black suit in a darkened room! what the heck?), we like what we CAN see of this great suit from Donna Karan.  Love the jacket’s off-shoulder collar and high belt, and the contour seams of the pencil skirt strike us as flattering (even if they might require an underlayer of Spanx).  The jacket (Donna Karan Collection Belted Stretch-Wool Jacket) is $1,495, and the skirt (Donna Karan Collection Pencil Skirt) is $550, both available at Bergdorf Goodman.

Donna Karan Belted Stretch-Wool Jacket & Pencil Skirt Donna Karan Belted Stretch-Wool Jacket & Pencil Skirt

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Wednesday’s TPS Report: Wrap Dress with Cummerbund

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

DKNY Wrap Dress with CummerbundWe noticed this DKNY dress a few weeks ago, and it seems fitting for the first day of September (even if it is still ridiculously hot).  We like the long sleeves and the high wrapped neckline; we also like the “cummerbund.”  The pleats look lovely on the skirt, and we’re always a fan of a jersey dress.  It’s $160 at Shopbop.    DKNY Wrap Dress with Cummerbund

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.

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Coffee Break: Gaige Pumps

Sofft - Gaige (Black Cracked Suede)We are loving these shoes from Sofft as a vintagey alternative to a regular pump. The super high vamp makes them very walkable, but we think the way the vamp dips down will be more attractive than, say, a Mary Jane or t-strap shoe. For some reason, we’re seeing them with a swingy A-line skirt. They’re $109 at Zappos in “cracked suede” (pictured) and regular black leather (Sofft – Gaige (Black Cracked Suede) – Footwear); while Macy’s has the same shoe in a red and gray suede (Sofft Shoes, Gaige Pumps Women’s Shoes).