Do you read all kinds of articles on “How To Save Money”? You can’t wait to become Financially Independent and you know you need to cut back on expenses. Maybe you are targeting big-ticket items to save on (house, car) or maybe you decided to start slow and cut back on everyday expenses such as your lunch. To save money on lunch is such an easy and simple way to save money, why wouldn’t you do it? The odds are, your lunches will also be much healthier. So, that’s it, you made the decision to bring your lunch to work (good for you!) but within days you already forgot you lunch at home! This happens to me often and I am sure I am not the only one. Did You Forget Your Lunch Again?
Save Money On Lunch! First, Skepticism Out Of The Way!
Maybe you didn’t forget, you are just not sold on the concept. You don’t believe “saving on lunches” makes enough of a difference! It won’t make you financially independent.
Did you ever try to add up how much you spend each week on buying lunch? Assuming you buy it everyday of the year at a conservative price of $8/lunch, that’s $2,080/year! Maybe you also buy a latte everyday? Another $1,000/year!!! If you make minimum wage in Ontario ($14/hr), it is the equivalent of 148 hours of work (pre-tax)! Or 4 weeks worth of work! Is it really worth it? It’s money you could invest every year, more saving less spending, one step closer to FI!
What’s worse? You probably already have food at home to bring to work for lunch. Food that may end up in the garbage if you don’t eat it for lunch! Why waste? Convinced yet?
Save Money On Lunch – Planning
To make sure you always have a lunch to bring to work, all it takes is a little bit of planning and you are all set;
- Cook a little extra for diner and take the leftovers the next day or
- Cook up a storm on the week-end and prepare all your meals for the week.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do it. Get started now!
Did you forget your lunch again?
So you are all set to go, your lunch is ready but, you forget it at home! It happens, we all get so busy in the morning, trying to rush out the door (if you have kids you definitely understand what I am talking about)
Sometimes I would skip lunch but really not the ideal solution, other times I would buy the cheapest lunch I could find but would still end up paying at least $5 to $6 for a “crappy” lunch. If I am going to buy myself lunch, I would like to do it when I feel like it, as a treat not because I have to. But I have to admit, these days, treat or no treat, I always have a hard time spending money on lunch, so expensive for what you get !
So What Can You Do If You Forget Your Lunch?
It’s really simple: BE PREPARED! What you need to do is make sure you have backup food at the office, your “emergency food”!
I am very fortunate that my workplace (for now) has a fridge, freezer, microwave and a toaster so there is not much that is off limit. Here is some of the food I keep at work (not all at the same time):
- Chicken noddle soup. It last for a while, it’s easy to make and is not too bad for you. Not always enough but at least it is food.
- A few cans of soup; minestrone or pea soup are pretty filling.
- Petra cubes of squash or leek soup ( yes I really like soup)
- Frozen bagels and a small container of cream cheese or butter. I keep a tiny container for emergencies (never goes bad because I do forget my lunch on a regular basis)
- Asian noodle package (Add boiled water and it’s ready!)
- Nuts and dried fruits (as a snack or dessert)
- Fruit cups or apple sauce
- Small can of tuna
- Peanut butter
- Box of crackers
- Frozen ready meals (you can get them really cheap when on sale). Some are healthier than others but, either way, it is for emergencies only!
- Quick oatmeal
- Snack bars
The list is endless. Make sure you shop around for sale for your “emergency” lunch food, it will taste even better if you didn’t pay as much for it! Do a rotation once in a while if you are really good at not forgetting your lunch, some of the food could expiry.
In addition to the above list, at the beginning of each week I usually bring a few perishable items like a couple of apples, a large container of yogurt , lettuce washed up, cut up carrots, depending on what’s in my fridge. That way, if I forget my lunch it is a nice addition to the emergency food stash I already store at the office and sometimes it’s just nice to have the extra healthy snacks. If I have lots left by the end of the week, I won’t bring lunch on Friday and eat what I have left.
Check out this post 52 Creative, Cheap and Easy Lunch, some great suggestions!
I know some PF bloggers don’t see as much value in the “small stuff”, I DO! I wish I did it in my younger years. When I think back at all the money I spent on fancy coffees and lunches! It didn’t bring extra enjoyment to my life, it was convenient, but at what price? These days I like to get good value for the money I spend (it’s called being FRUGAL) and bringing my lunch to work is what works for ME. And whenever I feel like it, I can meet a friend for lunch and get value for my money:)
So what are you waiting for? Get your emergency food ready and save money on lunch NOW! You will end up eating better and waste less at the same time. Slow and steady savings is better than no savings!
How about you, how often do you/did you bring your lunch at work? What do you keep at work in case of “emergency”? Or are you a “skeptic” and don’t believe if you save money on lunch it will make enough of a difference to help you reach Financial Independence?