Want to know easy ways to save money on work food? If you work outside your home and wonder where all your “lunch money” goes, I’ve got tips for you.
The sequestration craziness this week has turned governmental cost-cutting talk into a blood sport for politicians. But it can also become personal, as many who may be affected by sequestration wonder how long it will last and what personal expenses they can cut. As always, I’m all about food. So, here are 5 easy ways to save money on food and drink you consume at work or school. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or snacks, I’ll bet that if you buy food and drinks at take-out places or restaurants, you spend much more than you realize. And of course you can use these tips even if sequestration won’t affect your personal budget.
I’ll provide more details on each money saving strategy in the next few weeks, but for now, here are the high points:
1. Make Your Lunch
Maybe not every day, but how about 2-3 times per week? If you currently buy lunch at take-out places and eat at restaurants, don’t go cold turkey. On week 1, just stick to your routine and record what you ate, where you bought it, and the cost. At the end of the week, tally up the cost and decide which 2 lunches were the least satisfying. Make brown bag lunches for 2 days the following week that cost no more (and hopefully less) than those 2 unsatisfying lunches. Here are a 10 tips for better brown bag lunches in case you need a jump start. The 3rd week, try to add 1 more brown bag lunch. The 4th week, see if you can maintain that 3 brown bag vs. 2 take-out/restaurant lunch ratio.
2. Bring Coffee, Tea, and Other Beverages
If you bring coffee, (which you can make as good as Starbucks, Dunkin’Donuts or wherever you buy it), fancy tea bags, or juice, you’ll save money – even with an initial investment for a nice thermos.
3. Drink Tap Water Instead of Buying Bottled Water
Do you buy bottled water? My one word advice on that habit – don’t. Buy a filter if you don’t like tap water, or if you must buy large jugs of water, but don’t keep buying those 8-16 ounce bottles of water. It’s a rip-off, bad for the environment, and a terrible waste of money.
4. No Impulse Buys (Make Your Snacks)
I’m a big snacker. If my purse doesn’t contain a treat, I am either in withdrawal or just ate the last mouthful and must quickly resupply. Whether you crave granola, fruit, or even chocolate, don’t buy it on impulse in mid-afternoon. Instead, bring homemade granola or fruit or treats bought ahead of time at a grocery store and pocket the extra cash.
5. Comparison Shop for Treats & Lunches Out
This isn’t about abstinence – far be it from me to suggest that you should give up treats. But if you indulge, consider prices and you can enjoy a special sweet or lunch out while not breaking the bank. I just enjoyed a delightful Whole Foods muffin that cost $1.59 after passing up one from a bakery (that I know is no better) and costs $2.85. That $1.26 savings isn’t going to buy me a car, but if those savings become a habit….
Happy Friday. What food are you going to shop for this weekend to take to work next week?