One simple way to save money is to brown bag your lunches every day. This is a favorite tip among financial advisors. Brown bagging may not be anything new, but if you want to save up to $1,800 per year, you may want to consider it. $1,800, really? Eating out adds up. Think about it: If you spend about $7 each day on lunch, that adds up over the course of a year. Even if you have a modest $5 lunch each day, that’s $1,300 annually.
If the thought of having to prep a boring bologna sandwich in the morning before work doesn't sound appealing or appetizing, keep reading. Here’s a simple trick to help you only think about your lunch menu once a week.
Choose a day of the week to stop by the grocery store and stock up on yummy sandwich supplies – bread, good cheese, deli meat, veggies, sandwich spreads or whatever else you love on your sandwich. The idea here is to make your sandwich more than PB&J (although there’s nothing wrong with that). Be sure to add some “sides” to your menu including things like fruit (apples and grapes are good and will last the whole week), low-calorie chips, hard-boiled eggs, celery or baby carrots and humus. If you enjoy fruit juice or ice tea, pick that up too or make a large homemade batch. Now you have all of supplies you need for a week’s worth of tasty and nutritious lunches. Your supply may even last longer than a week – depending on the item. For instance, a package of cheese may have enough slices for two weeks.
Stock up on your lunch supplies at wholesale stores like Costco or discount grocery stores like ALDI.
Store all of your supplies at work utilizing your desk, locker or a safe drawer for your bread and the office refrigerator for your cheese, meat, veggies, etc. Be sure to label your items so that it’s clear that they are yours. Now each day at work you have enough supplies to make a quick and healthy lunch.
This method could easily cut your lunch budget in half. Feel free to spice things up each week by switching from sandwiches to salads. You could try different varities of lettuce, toppings and dressings. You can also try different deli meats and cheeses and/or a new sandwich spread (e.g. cranberry aioli). Another way to add variety is to bring leftovers from dinner -- just to give yourself a change.
Image Credit: Grant Cochrane/freedigitalphotosnet
Denene Brox is a Kansas City-based freelance writer.