If you’re anything like me you spend some time straddling the thin line between convenience and money. For me, it’s convenient to stop by Chick-Fil-A for a quick lunch and then head back into work, however after a while it really damages my wallet. For example:

How much you’re currently spending
Let’s take the most expensive scenario and assume you eat out 5 times per week for lunch.

Current lunch spending: (Eat out 5x/week) * (4 weeks in a month) * (About $14 each lunch net with tax) = That is $280/month on eating out! That’s $3,360 annually. That’s a whole ton of money spent on food.

Now, you could just cut your lunches out by half if you wanted and get items from the snack menu at Arby’s.
New spending costs to eat out would be: (Eat out 3x/week) * (4 weeks) * ($8 net with tax) = $96/month, or $1,152 annually. And that’s not counting the days you weren’t eating out. Add another $40/month and it’s hit $136/month or $1,632 annually.

New spending cost to pack lunches would be: (packed lunch 5/week) * (4 weeks) * ($5 cost per packed lunch) = $100/month, or $1,200 Annually.

So $280 – $136 – $100 = $44 in savings every month accumulating to $528 dollars each year. Hey, that’s a new speaker system for your sport’s center or a nice shopping trip for clothes.

So here’s some nice tips on how to spend less money for lunches each year.

  1. Be Smart and Flexible. Know the prices of items in the store and know when to push and when to give. Name brand items are more expensive and more well-known, but that doesn’t mean that they are any better then a cheaper item next to it.
  2. Bring leftovers: Bringing leftovers from your meal the night before will save you another $5 and will help save you from wasted food going down your garbage disposal at the end of the month. And if you choose a dinner item that heats well and you’ll enjoy for more than one meal (Curry and rice anyone?) then you’ve just got one more thing to look forward to at work.
  3. Pack a light lunch: a salad or sandwich. Salads and sandwiches are customizable and easy on your wallet. I used to hate salads, and if it’s a bad salad I still won’t touch it, but after trying a few around town, I found something that I adore and can make at home for really cheap.
  4. Invest in containers: ziplocs, lunchboxes, storage containers, and thermoses are common containers that work really well. After trying a few things, I find that storage containers and thermoses work amazingly well for all of my needs. Want to save more money? If you have non-perishable items or a fridge at work, don’t buy a lunchbox. Instead, save grocery sacks when you go grocery shopping and reuse them as a lunch bag.
  5. Plan our your shopping: Plan ahead, make a list, and keep an eye on sales and prices.
  6. Prepare in bulk: If you plan your meals in bulk then you can prepare a week’s worth of lunches at a time, save them in your fridge or freezer, and pull them out each day with little to no fuss. Think leftovers. The more you can carry over to your next meal, the more you save. Big time.

Alright! Go out there and save!