Saving money is probably on the top of really everybody’s list of priorities, but it’s easier said than done. What with all the television and radio ads, banners on websites and roadside billboards seen on your way to work, it often seems as if we can’t go for more than ten minutes without being pressured into spending hard-earned money.
Whether you’re saving for something big such as a house or your child’s education, or just looking to have extra dollars in your pocket, you can get a head start with the following helpful ideas for saving lunchtime money.
1. Bring Your Lunch, Don’t Eat Out:
It’s a no-brainer: The easiest way to save money is not to spend it. You already may be taking your lunch to work, but if not, remember restaurant and deli fare can be pricey, and if you eat out for lunch everyday of the week, you may not realize how much you’re spending after factoring in costs such as tips and perhaps gasoline to and from. If possible, save both time and money by eating at your office. If you’re skeptical about missing your lunch break to recharge by not going out, take a book or magazine with you or go for a walk after lunch to take your mind off of work. You’ll still feel more refreshed for your afternoon workload.
2. Cook Larger Meals at Home, Keeping Lunch Food in Mind:
You probably make dinner at home, so why not make a little extra and pack it away for the next day’s lunch? Also, cooking large family meals on the weekends and saving or freezing leftovers for lunch requires little extra effort. While cleaning up, package the leftovers directly into lunch-size containers to store in the fridge or freezer so that they’re ready to grab when needed. Not only will you save money by not eating out, but eating leftovers is a much healthier alternative. You’ll also know exactly what’s in your food and will be able to control the portion size.
3. Don’t “Brown Bag” Your Lunch:
Bringing lunch in from home is often referred to as “brown-bagging,” but guess what – throwaway bags cost money. Instead of the expense of buying paper or plastic lunch bags, purchase a reusable lunch box and thermos. You’ll do the environment a favor by reducing waste and you’ll save money at the grocery and beverage vending machine.
4. Stock Up Healthy Snacks, and Then Snack Frequently:
A mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack can be a perfect workday pick-me-up. To save money and avoid the expense and calories of vending machine fare, purchase healthy snacks at the grocery to keep in your office fridge or desk.
If your office has a refrigerator, you could store such items as individual yogurt cups, cheese cubes or deli meat for snacks. If you keep snacks in your desk drawer, choose energy-rich foods such as trail mix, nuts, unpeeled fruit and dark chocolate.
Be sure to restock your snack stash so that you’re never at a loss for a quick bite. You’ll be more productive at work and less likely to spend money at a vending machine, where the price is usually much higher than at grocery stores.
5. Invite Co-workers to Join You:
Sometimes an influence on how to spend your paycheck is your “let’s eat out every day” co-workers. Why not turn the tables by encouraging your co-workers to join you in the lunch-break room or to find a lunch-friendly space outside. You might be surprised how many of them also would like to save money by not eating out. Start with an office-wide challenge to see who brings his or her lunch most often during a given week. Themed potluck lunches made at home also can be great.