According to an article in Zen Habits, people often “spend $10-15 per meal on lunch. A brown-bagged lunch costs between $1-3. If you save $11-12 every weekday, for 52 weeks of the year, you get about $3,000. Here’s the clincher: Put that $3,000 a year into an index fund and continue to contribute to it every month for 25 years…and you’ve saved $500,000!”
This article discusses six ways how to save money on work lunches.
#1 Figure our Your Monthly Budget
Know your monthly budget and stick to it. So many people spend money with abandon and then wonder why they don’t have enough money to pay all the bills. On a personal note, I currently work from home and usually eat there and only go out to eat once a week. However, when I worked outside the home, I had to come up with a workable lunch budget. I enjoyed eating out with coworkers but knew that wasn’t a daily option. I figured out how much money could be allotted for lunch expenses and had a “paperclip” system for my cash. You need to ascertain which system works best for you and gives you the desired result of staying within your allotted budget. You can visit this website to download Budget Worksheet templates.
#2 Brown Bag Your Lunch
Who doesn’t like to eat out? Most people do. However, dining out quickly becomes an expensive addition to your monthly budget. Brown bagging your lunch is a smart and effective way to save money each month. In addition to making sandwiches, you can make extra food at dinner so that you have leftovers to bring to work if there is a microwave in your office. Here is a listing of Brown Bag Lunch Ideas. Lunch times are great opportunities for you to network and connect professionally with others. So, you may not want to brown bag your lunch every day.
# 3 Pool Together With Coworkers
Since we’ve already established that people enjoy going out to eat and socializing, why not pool together with your coworkers. Pick one day a week which will be your day to all chip in a few dollars for pizza, sandwiches or other takeout. You get to save some money buying lunch out together and you save fuel by not having to drive out to eat.
# 4 Start Having Potluck Lunches
Another way to save money on work lunches while still being able to socialize is to pick one day a week for a potluck lunch. This should be a fun experience so maybe pick Mondays or Fridays. It’s a great way to begin or end the week. Everyone who is participating brings in a dish and it’s a chance to socialize in the office. It would be a good idea to make a list each week of who is bringing what dish so you’re not all eating the same thing. Variety is the spice of life, right! If you need some ideas for potluck dishes, check out this article in The Kitchn. They offer recipes for three office situations—no refrigeration required, easy transport and everything else if your office has a full kitchen.
# 5 Eat Lunch at Home
If you live close to the office, opt to eat at home. You’ll get a change of pace from eating your brown bagged lunch at the office. You’ll also get a chance to leave the office on your lunch break and still save money, but not buy your lunch. If you are friends with a coworker and feel comfortable socializing outside of the office, invite this person to join you for lunch at your house. For more ideas, check out these 12 Healthy Lunch recipes from the Food Network.
# 6 Use Coupons When Eating Out
If you planned your budget and have allotted one or two days to eat out during the work week, try to plan ahead and use coupons. Groupon and Couped Out are two great places to sign up for free membership to be alerted about special deals on restaurants. I am a member of both places and have used coupons from each. They both offer apps for smartphones. You don’t even need to bring the coupon in, but simply have the code scanned from your phone.
Remember, saving money always starts with first learning how to budget and sticking to it. Find interesting and healthy lunch ideas to either brown bag your lunch or eat at home. Pool together with coworkers and also plan a weekly potluck lunch. Don’t forget about using coupons whenever possible. Planning pays off with savings in the long run.
Photo Credit: cdn aarp