The cost of food is one expense that cannot be avoided, but with careful planning, you can easily save a great deal of money by bringing your lunch to work. However, in order to actually save money, you need to bring the right types of meals.
Lunches that are easy and cheap to make
It’s completely doable to have a full balanced, nutritious, and satisfying lunch each day at work for a dollar (or even less). If you spend just a dollar on your lunch every day at work, that’s just $260 a year on lunches during the week. However, if you are constantly going to restaurants or fast food places, that number drastically goes up. A recent study from Visa revealed that the average working American spends $936 on lunches out each year!
There are plenty of meals that are easy to make at home and will cost a dollar (or under) to prepare. Chicken breast with a small side of vegetables, spaghetti, quesadillas and sandwiches are just a few of many possibilities.
Cook ahead of time
It can be easy to resort to eating out during lunch because it’s just the easier thing to do. You might be tired every day when you get home from work, and preparing your lunch for the next day is the last thing on your mind. You might tell yourself you’ll do it in the morning, but then the morning comes and you’re too pressed for time. The best way to make it easier on yourself is to cook or prepare your meals in advance. Take the time every Sunday evening to fix five meals for the workweek. Chicken breast is one thing that can easily be cooked days in advance. Alternatively, cook your dinners with leftovers in mind and bring those leftovers for lunch the next day.
Avoid frozen dinners and prepackaged meals
When they’re not on sale, frozen dinners and prepackaged meals from the grocery store can range anywhere from $2 to $5. Not only are they often less filling than meals that can cost under a dollar to make yourself, but a lot of these meals are loaded with sodium and lack nutrients. And because the cost of a lunch out might cost close to the same thing, you’re not really saving much.
Bring leftovers from a restaurant
You should try to limit your restaurant visits as much as possible if you’re trying to save money, but make the most of a visit and split it into two meals. However, don’t justify a restaurant visit this way. If you bought an entrée that was priced at $20 and you’re bringing the other half of it to eat at lunch, you’re still spending $10 on your lunch—far more than it can cost to bring something you made yourself, and likely even less than eating out at the average lunch place. While it’s definitely a good idea to not waste leftovers, try to limit restaurant outings altogether.
Purchase your beverages in bulk
If you’ve made the decision to bring lunch from home, it can be easy to forget about drinks or justify the cost of just purchasing your favorite beverage from your office’s vending machine. But consider this: if you’re paying 75 cents for one drink, five days a week, over the course of a year that will add up to $195! Instead, purchase drinks in bulk at wholesale clubs and bring them to work with you. To maximize savings and cut calories, consider drinking tap water for some (or all) all of your lunches.
If you need cash now to take care of bills and expenses, contact Peachtree Financial Solutions today if you’re receiving structured settlement or annuity payments. We can purchase some or all of your future payments and provide you with a lump sum.
Nothing above is meant to provide financial or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.