5 Easy Ways to Save Money on Lunch
When you're trying to cut costs, your daily food bill is a good place to start. Eating lunch out each day adds up fast, and these meals are often not as healthy as you'd probably like. But with a little planning and effort, you can easily save money on lunch and enjoy healthy, inexpensive food while building your savings.
1. Double Your Dinner
Not everyone looks forward to the extra time and energy required to save money by taking a homemade lunch to work or school. An easy way to overcome this hassle is to double what you're having for dinner the night before. Simply make twice as much as you would normally for dinner, and then pack the leftovers for lunch.
2. Plan Lunches Around Sales
You'll save even more if you plan your homemade lunch menus around sale items. Keep an eye on your grocery store's weekly sales and stock up on ingredients that can be frozen like bread or stored for a long time like tuna. This way even if you forget to buy something for lunch or run out of something, you will always have a back-up plan ready in the freezer or cabinets. To save time and money, use an app like Flipp or Favado to compare sale prices quickly on your smartphone, so you can get the best deal out there.
3. Don't Go Hungry
One of the quickest ways to bust your lunch budget is by buying something on impulse because you're starving. It's great you've gone ahead and made yourself a homemade lunch, but there are some days that it might not seem like enough to satisfy your cravings. Prevent spending needlessly by keeping snacks stashed at work. But that doesn't mean loading up on high sugar and fat snacks like potato chips, soda and candy bars. Light snacks like nuts, seeds, fruit or granola bars will give you consistent energy levels throughout the day and stop you from letting hunger cut into your savings.
4. Choose Wisely
Sometimes your daily lunch hour might be a fun time to chat with friends and colleagues while eating at a café or restaurant. If so, it may seem like avoiding restaurants to save money on lunch comes at the cost of spending time with your friends. However, you can still save by being mindful of how often you do eat out and what you order.
Cut back on the number of days you eat lunch at a restaurant, or go out for Friday lunches only. You could also encourage your friends to try the same cost-cutting lunch activities you're trying, and eat your homemade lunches together at work or picnic at a nearby park. And why not make it a little competitive? Compare your costs and savings, and see who can save the most money on lunches each week.
5. Stretch Your Ingredients
Once you get into the habit of preparing your own lunch, look for new ways to use low-cost (but sometimes boring) lunch staples such as canned tuna, eggs or rice and beans. For example, with tuna you can make salad, sandwiches or a casserole. Eggs can be boiled, scrambled in a tortilla or baked in a quiche. Try different combinations of rice and beans, adding vegetables, spices or cheeses for a variety of lunches. All are great options to save money on lunch using cheap, protein-rich ingredients.
By using leftovers, buying lower cost ingredients and preparing your lunch ahead of time, you should be able to reduce your daily lunch expenses and start socking away more cash every month.