Money, Saving Money

Did You Forget Your Lunch Again?

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.
  • Tetra pack 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.

Fresh Items

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!

Wrapping up

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?

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24 thoughts on “Did You Forget Your Lunch Again?

  1. I bring my lunch every day, but I don’t keep emergency food. I’d recommend caution here. My work has recently developed a mice problem. Having food in your desk can attract them.

  2. when i was in my 20’s and doing my first real job i bought crappy chinese food almost every day with the older guys. the hidden cost was the junk i was eating and the 20 pound i gained in a few years that never, even went away. i have to bring only a small quantity of emergency food. if i bring a whole can of almonds or cashews i’ll mow down the whole thing in one day. so it’s like that.

    1. Hey there, I do have a tendency to eat my emergency food sometimes a lot faster than intended to:) I am working on it but at least I am saving along the way:)

  3. Hello Caroline, After I left a Fortune 100 company where I worked that had a subsidized cafeteria, I brown bagged it for almost 15 years. The time it takes to go out, the out of pocket cost, and the temptation to eat unhealthy foods was just inconvenient for me during lunch time. Tom

    1. That’s true, I forgot to mention how it saves time too. Subsidized cafeteria sounds pretty good:)
      Once you start bringing your lunch to work, it becomes a habit. Have a great week-end Tom.

  4. Caroline, I like the idea: bring the lunch from home, and store some food at the office fridge as a backup. I bagged my lunch all those years while working. As you said, it’s healthier, and saves money. It also saves time, as I spent 30 minutes for lunch, and the other 30 minutes walking outside to relax a bit.

    1. Hi Helen, I have been trying to be better at walking outside during lunch time. I spent so many years just eating at my desk while working, it is a bad habit I have to break. I am doing better:)

  5. I used to go out for lunch a few times a month but recently always brown bag it. My ex boyfriend used to always eat lunch out every day and it drove me nuts that he was spending $10 a day for lunch…. And then would complain that he had no money for travel. We had different money values which is -another reason why we didn’t work out haha!

    1. One of my co-workers complains all the time she is broke but consistently buys lunch out, on top of smoking. It drives me crazy! I try to tell her how she may save but it has been a slow process. I can’t imagine if it was my partner! It would drive me nuts too. Money values are critical in a relationship:)

  6. I am so fortunate to have complementary breakfast and lunch at work. saves me some money and time to making my own lunch. Although I do occasionally bring my own lunch if we had leftovers from dinner the night before or I simply don’t feel like my eating the food at work.
    Probably once a month or every other month I would go out to eat for lunch and most of the time it would be at the Costco food court.

    1. Breakfast and lunch at work!!! I am so jealous:) But could you bring leftover lunch home for dinner??? Maybe pushing the frugal envelope a little:)

  7. Thanks for sharing this post, Caroline! I think this is what I’ve needed to hear. I’ve been trying to focus on consistency and avoiding cutting out the “small stuff,” but I’m starting to realize that I need to make FI happen faster. Lunches are an area of opportunity for sure.

  8. Having some quick snacks at work is SO IMPORTANT. And coffee haha. We have a coffee shop in out lobby that I always fall victim to, but keeping kcups has saved my budget!
    Plus- going out to lunch is no longer fun for me haha. It is SOOOO hard to come back to work after being gone haha.

    1. I used to spend so much time and money going out to get my latte! What a waste:( I enjoy it so much more now that I only go once in a while.
      Having the snacks is great until you start eating them just because there are there and start adding a few pounds! You can’t win:)

  9. Wait, what’s a petra cube? Of soup? Does frozen cream cheese not go back? I never thought to freeze cream cheese but I don’t buy them because they come in bigger containers…that and if I have one open I will eat it under a week and I’m trying to watch my weight.

    1. Haha. You always find stuff I missed! Did I say I froze the cream cheese? I meant to say I freeze the bagels!
      And my mom always called it petra something…probably doesn’t work in English! Are you the only one actually reading my posts?
      I am trying to watch my weight too so the backup food is not always a good thing:)

  10. I used to try to meal plan but I gave up. Now I eat at work every day and make sure I get enough to get left overs. I spent 4.70€ per day doing that. I only spend like 15€ on food per week and that’s for my days off. I could reduce my budge to liuek 5 € if I wanted but I like to eat well when I’m off.
    Food at work is better than anything I could cook myself. It works.
    I went from spending 200€ a months to like 80€ per month.

    1. If it works for you then that’s great. I couldn’t use lunch leftovers to feed my family of five:) Things would probably be much different if it was just me, still not sure if I would buy lunch or just bring my own leftovers. Thanks for commenting.

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