Thursday, June 23, 2011

Start Saving Your Lunch Money!

Dollars And Coins

Lunch can be the easiest meal to spend extra money on and not even realize it. All those "Lunch Specials" you think you are getting for a bargain, quickly add up and are often not even any cheaper, yet you still receive a smaller portion.

The obvious way of saving money at lunch time is to bring your lunch... I realize that can sound unappetizing & unrealistic, but these tips should change your perspective! Whether you work in an office, out of your car or outside... hopefully this will give you a few new ideas of ways to save money & still eat out!

1st - We want to avoid getting bored! If you eat the same mundane food everyday, you'll end up back to your old ways of eating whatever your little heart desires & wasting money!
- Leftovers are a good option - But not from the same dinner of the night before
- Spice up your sandwiches gourmet style - fresh veggies, condiments, good bread, etc.
- Salads are a great healthy & cheap option - spice it up with extras - veggies, dressings, nuts, fruits, etc.
- Frozen meals are easy to find priced cheap and offer a healthy, filling portion size in a variety of options 
- Bring different items for a variety of choices to choose from depending on what you feel like eating - different lunchmeats & cheeses, leftovers, etc.

2nd - Bring more than just lunch!
- Make & take coffee to work - avoid going to the drive-through or convenience store & then buying more than just coffee
- Bring extra snacks to have throughout the day to avoid buying from gas station or vending machine
- Bring your own drinks - full size drinks that can be kept & poured into a cup or individually canned/bottled drinks bought from grocery stores (cheaper than from vending machine or 7-11) 

3rd - If you eat out...
- Bring snacks & drinks to have during the day so when you go out for lunch at least you won't be to the point of "starvation" & order a larger, more expensive meal
- Order a smaller/cheaper meal - perhaps just an appetizer, side salad or desert
- Order water - this is the easiest thing to save money at a restaurant!
- Start small & succeed big - making a radical cut in your lunch budget can be overwhelming & cause you to give up, but by cutting it a 1/4 or in 1/2 & then slowly raising your savings goal is more realistic & obtainable

4th - Extra tips:
- Prep the night before so you're not too rushed in the morning & end up going without anything
- To save time - prepackage snacks into containers or bags when you unpack from the store
- If you are not in an office, store in a cooler
- In the summer, pack extra ice packs in the cooler, to avoid any food from going bad
- If you work outside or from your car, freeze waters so they will be cold all day
- To save more money - use reusable plastic containers instead of baggies

Things to Remember:
* Make sure to include this in your Meal Plan so you can still be a Successful Shopper
* This will increase you're grocery budget by a few extra dollars (buying snacks, drinks, lunch items), but it is STILL savings compared to buying those things at a restaurant or convenience store
* Even if your "bag lunch" isn't SUPER cheap, because you're "spicing" it up... you're still saving money compared to restaurant prices 
* To reduce the cost of these lunch items even more, you can stockpile & use coupons
* You're also saving gas money since you're not traveling 

**Money saved can easily disappear into money being spent somewhere else... Withdraw your current lunch budget amount of money every week & whatever is saved, deposit into savings account.

What is your savings goal? Do you already practice any of these tips? Do you have any others??? I love feedback!

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