How Packing a Lunch Saves You Money Every Day vs. Eating Out
There’s been plenty of discussion as to whether bringing your own lunch saves you money over buying lunch every day. For most people, this actually is the case, but you need to do it right. You can’t just throw anything into a lunch bag and think you’re going to come out ahead at the end of the month.
We’ve done the research and have come up with 5 ways to ensure that you’re making the most out of “brown-bagging” it.
- Cook Your Own Meals: Groceries cost less than restaurant meals – and they last longer. If you’re not the type who likes to cook every night, have a “cook-out day”, i.e. Sunday. Cook enough meals for the week, and freeze them. You’ll just need to pull them out the day before you need to bring them for lunch.
- Invest in Reusable Lunch Bags: Generally, when we refer to “brown-bagging” it, we do mean the real brown bags – paper bags that you can buy at your local store for $6-$10 for a bunch of them. The problem with these, however, is that they don’t last very long, maybe one to two uses. Then, the bag falls apart. The costs of these starts to add up. Instead of real brown paper bags, invest in reusable lunch bags that you pay for once and use over and over again.
- Don’t Buy Prepackaged Meals: Those frozen prepackaged meals that you get in the grocery store always seem like a good idea. But if you really pay attention to the price for the amount of food (and the sodium and calories!) that you get, you may actually be able to get more food at a fast food joint by ordering from the $1 menu. Generally, these meals cost about $5-$8 each. That doesn’t seem too bad. Yet, if you’ve ever looked around a lunch room, you’ll notice that most people add something to these, i.e. a muffin for dessert, chips, etc. The reason? For many people, these meals just aren’t filling enough. Your lunch could add up to be $10+ by the end of it.
- Change It Up: If you eat the same lunch day-in and day-out, you’re going to get bored – and more tempted to go out to lunch. Change up your meals every couple of days. Maybe one day you can make a sandwich, and the next use some of those meals that you made on your cook-out day. Keep lunch interesting.
- Finish Off Those Leftovers: Leftovers are a great choice for lunch. You already know that you enjoyed it the night before, and you won’t waste food by throwing it out.
Just because you’re bringing your own lunches doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. And it doesn’t mean that you never can go out to lunch with your coworkers. Instead of this being a regular event, treat yourself once a month. You’ll enjoy the meal more if it’s something special!