According to a Business Insider report, packing a lunch saves an average of $2,000 per year. It makes sense: The average cost of a meal at a fast-food or sit-down restaurant typically lands between $8 and $20. If you make eating out during the work week into a habit, it adds up over time. In contrast, brown bagging your lunch can cost around $2 to $5 per meal, depending on what you pack.

bigstock--167723915Although going out to lunch with co-workers is fun, it's worth it to sacrifice offsite socialization by bringing a packed lunch instead. You can even encourage your colleagues to do the same! Make a gathering out of it and eat your packed lunches together. If it's convenience you're after, packing a lunch can be easy – it only takes minutes. Don't wait until you're rushing around in the morning to put it together. Pack your lunch at night – the perfect time is when you're already in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner.

Finally, toting your lunch is not only easier on your wallet, but the environment, too. To learn how to pack a lunch in a way that prioritizes the earth, read these tips:

Purchase an eco-friendly lunchbox

Instead of brown-bagging your midday meal, purchase a lunchbox that can be used again and again. Not only is this the more economical choice, it's also easier on the environment. There are many lunchbox options on the market made from eco-friendly materials such as biodegradable plastic or stainless steel. For example, the ECOlunchbox Three-In-One Stainless Steel Food Container Set is a three-in-one lunchbox set promising to contain plenty of room for multiple food items.

Reach for reusable sandwich bags

Instead of stuffing disposable plastic bags with sandwiches and snacks, opt for an eco-friendly alternative such as the Nordic By Nature Reusable Sandwich & Snack Bags. Made of a food-safe polyester and cotton fabric blend, these bags are non-toxic, phthalate-free, BPA-free and lead-free – and are sized to fit most sandwiches and common lunch items. Plus, they're dishwasher safe and dry quickly, making it easy to use the bags again the next day.

Stay hydrated and sip from stainless steel

A packed lunch isn't complete without a beverage, but some reusable bottles can wreak havoc on the environment. Thankfully, there are eco-friendly alternatives. Unlike plastic, which takes several hundred years to break down in the landfill, and glass, which can be dangerous to use as a bottle since it's easily breakable, stainless steel is the most environmentally conscious choice. The metal material is much more durable than its glass or plastic counterparts, helping it last significantly longer. Plus, stainless steel is 100% recyclable! Products such as the Reuseit Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Handle are a great option to tote to the office, gym or anywhere in between.

Clean up with a cloth napkin

Don't let napkins be an afterthought! Failing to pack one will leave you reaching for paper towels in the office break room, which is counter-intuitive to your eco-friendly intent of bringing your lunch. But instead of stuffing paper napkins into your lunchbox, consider a reusable cloth napkin for tidying up, such as these Funkins® – they're an earth-friendly alternative and can provide countless uses for a fraction of the cost.

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