I’m guilty. I’m a compulsive lunch-go-out-to-eater.
I always fall into one of these five categories: 1) I don’t feel like packing a lunch, 2) I don’t have time to pack a lunch, 3) I have nothing to pack, 4) What I packed isn’t nearly as good as the out-to-eat food I’m thinking about getting, or 5) I just need to get out of the office.
But this habit has to die… quick, fast, and in a hurry.
The Actual Cost of Eating Out Daily
Let’s think about this. Usually I spend $10- $15 a day on lunch. I’ll use the middle ground of $12.50 for my calculations.
- One Week: $12.50 x 5 = $62.50
- One Month: $62.50 x 4 = $250
- One Year: $250 x 12 = $3,000
Now, here’s where you save money depending on how you do it. If you plan to spend $100 a week on lunch groceries, then honey, you are not doing yourself a favor by any means. That $62.50 is a much better option. But, if you plan out your meals every week of things that are filling, inexpensive, and can stretch, you will definitely save some cash.
For example, say you love getting a $12 chicken pita combo from Coney Island every week. Well, go to the store; buy a jumbo pack of frozen chicken breast, some cheese, a pack of pita bread, and maybe a head of lettuce and booyah. That shouldn’t cost more than $25- $30. Each week, you can rotate your meals. And pack different snacks every day to give some variety. One day I may pack peanut butter and an apple, and another day some popcorn.
Tips to refrain from over-spending:
1. Buy ONLY enough for the week.
Over-buying = wasting food. Overly packed pantries and refrigerators means something is hiding, which means you won’t eat it. Don’t buy more than you will eat. The grocery store ain’t going nowhere.
2. Prep your food ahead of time.
Whether you meal prep for the entire week on Sunday, or designate 15 minutes a night to pack your lunch for the next day, preparing is the ultimate key. It’s a time-saver, especially.
3. Know what you’re looking for before you get into the store.
You will save yourself a lot of money by skipping isles if you know you don’t need anything from it. When I don’t have a list, I literally walk up and down each isle, trying to figure out what I need to buy… while simultaneously picking up things that I know for a fact I don’t have any business buying. It’s life, people.
4. Your freezer is your friend.
If you buy in bulk, or prepped some food that you didn’t end up eating… freeze it! The freezer will keep it fresh, and it will be thawed out by the time it’s ready to be devoured!
Moral of the story: Lunch adds up, whether you’re paying for it daily, or going grocery shopping weekly. The key is to be prepared and to be smart with the way you choose to spend.
Hey, you gotta eat, so either way you’re spending money. Balance is key. In my opinion, if you’re able to make healthier choices for your budget and your belly… I’d go with that.