Take Your Lunch and save a bundle.
- Taking your lunch can be cheaper than eating out
- Evaluate what you are doing with your lunch money
- It adds up
- it’s your choice
Take your lunch and save money
I always take my lunch to work. It can be so much cheaper than eating out, and I make sure that mine is. I don’t load up my lunch box with a lot of unnecessary or expensive food. After all, I’m going to WORK—not on vacation.
Usually, I take a sandwich or leftovers; the breakroom has a microwave. Maybe some chips. I also take a salad or some carrot and celery sticks—dressing goes in a separate container; no soggy veggies for me. A piece of fruit and a bottle of water. (Taking my own, refillable, water bottle is a lot cheaper than buying water or soda from the vending machine.) If I’m going to be working overtime, I’ll include a granola bar. One other item I always include is a small jar of instant coffee; I don’t drink it everyday, so bringing my own is less expensive than paying into the shift coffee fund. Basically, I want my food to be nourishing, healthy, and somewhat tasty; it does not need to be gourmet or extravagant.
If I’m really being conservative, here’s my food supply for a week of lunch and short breaks:
A loaf of bread
A pound of lunchmeat (Condiments, cheese, and lettuce are part of the household purchases.)
A bag of carrots
A stalk of celery
A bag of chips—to be divided up into servings and put in baggies
Some bananas or other fruit
I can get all of this for $12 to $15 a week.
There’s a guy who works on my shift who frequently brings in a whole pizza. By himself, he eats the whole thing for dinner, and I’m not talking about a small pizza or a $5 pizza. Sometimes, he brings a tub of Hamburger Helper, or a couple of dozen Buffalo wings, or a foot-long sub, or a… Of course, those are just the main dishes; he also brings sides, desserts, snacks, and (always) a 2 liter bottle of Coke. Sometimes, his personal lunchbox is a family-sized cooler like one you’d take to the beach for the whole day—and he’s not the only person to do this.
To get an idea of what they spend on lunches, I’ve made it a point to talk to several people who eat like this. It turns out a number of them spend anywhere from $15 to $20 a day. Ok, I may spend $15 a week; these folks spend that much a day. They spend about $60 more a week on lunches than I do. To put this in perspective: If you banked $60 a week for a year, at the end of a typical 50-week work year, you would have saved $3000. Wow!
Now, when you work as hard as we do, you do need to eat—to refuel; to keep going—but there comes a point when it becomes too much. A lot of the folks who overeat at lunch are very full and uncomfortable through the rest of the shift. In addition, many of these people are packing on pounds. They waste money buying too much expensive food, and they are setting themselves up to spend money in the future to correct the effects of a weight problem: It becomes a double waste.
Here’s a tip I’ve found helpful: Don’t take too much food to work, and don’t eat it all at one time. Have a little something at every break; it will help keep your energy up and your food costs down.