Do you want to save money, but don’t know where to start? Bringing your lunch to work is a great solution. As someone who has been bringing their lunch for the past 2 years, I have saved over $2,000!
I work in fast food, so my coworkers poke fun at me since we have food readily available. Plus we have multiple restaurants nearby to choose from. When I first started to work, I was excited I can finally spend money on foods to try. But after a while, it got old as I tried just about everything close to my work. I also realized something else… how much money I was wasting on food!
I was not thrilled to get my first bank statement since starting work and found out that in just three weeks, I had spent nearly $300 on take-out food alone.
I love when life gives you a wake-up call!
I realized I can still eat great food, I just have to make it myself. Making extras of certain meals I enjoy and bringing them to work is not only healthier but also is much cheaper.
I started packing my own lunch and brought it with me four days per week. I allowed myself one treat day a week, where every other Wednesday is reserved for buying something from the grocery store or going out to eat at a restaurant.
I used to buy $3 lattes every day from Starbucks, but after cutting back on my spending and instead of buying coffee at a street cart I found myself with an extra 80 dollars in the pocket each month. It’s not easy making these sacrifices when you’re constantly surrounded by businesses who want your money so badly-but it worked!
Bringing Lunch to Work
It’s hard to believe, but it costs Americans an average of $936 every year just for lunch! Fortunately, there are ways you can save money on your food. By taking the time in picking up some sandwiches or other dishes at home before coming into work instead of buying something pre-made from a restaurant close by – that could end up costing less than what most people spend each day during their commute alone.
Store-bought coffee has one of the highest price markups out there. You might pay anywhere from $1.50 to $2 for a hot cup, whether it’s upscale chains or mom and pop stores! Want flavored concoctions? Expect at least $3 minimum with lattes.
You can make your own instant coffee at home for $0.05 per cup, which is a lot cheaper than what you pay in store-bought cups! But if brewed coffee sounds better and tastier with all those other benefits attached to drinking it – remember that one-time investment of buying an appliance like the Mr. Coffee or GE Cafe Brewer? These things usually go anywhere between $25 to $150 but they’ll last forever so it’s worth every penny spent because once again-the quality matters more than anything else here 🙂
I have had my original Kuerig since it came out. I love making coffee, tea, and the kids drink their hot chocolate from it.
Total Monthly Savings on Coffee: $30 to $50 or more
Total Yearly Savings: $360 to $600 or more
Many people who work outside the house leave early in order to pick up breakfast from one of many eateries along their commute. However, buying a delicious and nutritious meal can be costly:
A perfect way for those on-the-go workers with busy schedules is to eat at home.
Bagels are a pretty awesome breakfast food. You can get them with butter or cream cheese for $1-$3, but if you know how to make your own bagel at home they cost as little as 75 cents each!
Muffins are a delicious and affordable way to fuel your body. They typically cost $1.50 or more, but you can save more than that by bringing in homemade muffins from home!
The best breakfast sandwiches are the ones you make yourself. You can save $1-$3 per day by making your own egg and cheese sandwich on a roll or bagel, instead of buying one at the store for more than twice as much.
A cup of oatmeal can easily cost $2.00 or more. But for way less than that you can make it at home including toppings of your choice.
Total Monthly Savings on Breakfast: $15 to $75 or more
Total Yearly Savings: $180 to $900 or more
Lunch is usually the largest expense of your workday. You can easily spend $50 or more per week just on lunch alone. how much is your lunch? I now bring mine to work and it costs me roughly $20 or less per week now.
Soup, the humble yet satisfying meal that’s been around since ancient Rome. For less than $10 you can make 8 lunches and save yourself about $5 a day!
Sandwiches and Wraps. A sandwich or wrap can cost anywhere from $5 to $10 depending on what’s in it; if your usual turkey lunch with lettuce, cheese & tomatoes is at the high end of this spectrum (going for around $7.50), you could easily make one yourself at home for under 3 bucks which would save about $4 each day!
Salads are a great way to get your daily dose of vegetables, but they can be expensive. A salad at the local restaurant will set you back for $10-15 depending on what is served in it and if there are any add-ons like extra dressings or toppings! You can make your own for just a few dollars.
Pasta or Rice Bowls. These typically cost between $8 and 12 depending on their contents; you can make a large batch of pasta with vegetables and chicken for around 10 bucks, which will last six lunches. Or whip up your own rice & beans that cost less than ten bucks–enough to feed at least 12 people!
Making your own lunches is extra work, but when you have the time to cook and prep at home for dinner on Saturday or Sunday then meals like soup, rice, or pasta can be made in large batches that last all week. Sandwiches don’t tend to do well if they’re made ahead but it only takes about 5 minutes to assemble.
Chop up your salad ingredients in advance, portion them out into airtight containers and always put the dressing in a separate container until you are ready to eat the salad is best.
The Downside of Bringing Lunch
Getting stuck with work. Working through your lunch can be a common problem for many. But take your lunch break, it is great for your well-being and work productivity.
Another drawback is when coworkers interrupt your lunch break, set your boundaries, limit your time with them because you need to eat your lunch.
Try not to eat at your desk, eat at a nearby park or somewhere quiet where you can enjoy your break.
Another drawback is fridge availability. We don’t have one at my work to use. So, I must plan to have my lunch inside a well-insulated cooler so it stays good. so keep that in mind, getting a good cooler, ice packs, and other accessories needed to keep your lunch from spoilage.
Total Monthly Savings on Lunch: $100 to $200 or more
Total Yearly Savings: $1,200 to $2,400 or more
Some people need an afternoon pick-me-up to make it through the workday, but buying their snack from an office vending machine or corner newsstand could mean spending far more than they have.
If you purchased things like chips, candy, granola bars, or even fruit at a convenience store you would be spending nearly triple the cost that you would in a grocery store. Buying snacks from places like BJ’s or Costco is more ideal, you will get your snacks even cheaper. Unless you find BOGO deals and use coupons together at the grocery store, then do them deals instead.
Total Monthly Savings on Snacks: $10 or more
Total Yearly Savings: $120 or more
Soda and other beverages
There are many times where people enjoy drinking soda, seltzer, and bottled water with lunch or afternoon refreshments. Buying these items from a deli can be considerably more expensive than purchasing them at your local supermarket though!
A can of soda or seltzer typically costs $1 more from a vending machine, newsstand and supermarkets. At the grocery store, however, you can buy 12-packs for as low as $3! That’s saving anywhere between .67 cents to 75% off retail prices – without even leaving your house.
Water is essential for life, but it’s also one of the most expensive beverages on earth. Bottled water costs about $1 per bottle or more wherever you buy them – even from vending machines! But if your office has a refrigerator filled with cold filtered tap water instead, all that expense could be saved by simply refilling their own reusable bottles at home before coming back to work each day.
A big 24-ounce size will set you back anywhere between 5 bucks to 15 dollars depending upon where they are purchased; however, once bought these things last forever so there really isn’t any long-term investment needed either way as far as cost goes.
Total Monthly Savings on Beverages, Assuming One Per Day: $13 to $16 or more
Total Yearly Savings: $156 to $192 or more
By bringing in your own coffee, breakfast, lunch, and snacks every day you can save a good $2k. And the best part about taking food with me is that I am able to use healthier ingredients which means less of a chance for overeating!
It’s not a crime to treat yourself once per week or on occasion, especially if there’s a particular food item that you really enjoy but can’t easily make for yourself.
Do you like to save money on food by bringing in your own lunch from home? What are some of my favorite recipes for homemade lunches I can make at work, or even during the week!