Frugal Lunches

One of the biggest wastes of your food budget is eating out instead of taking a lunch from home. If you work 5 days/week and 50 weeks/year and only spend $2.99 each day for lunch you'll be spending $747.50 over the course of the year (for one person...multiply by two if you and your significant other both work). Chances are you'll spend more than $2.99 some days and could easily end up shelling out over $1000 for lunch for one person! Even school lunches in our area are going for $1.50/day (quite an increase from 25 cents when I was a kid!). This comes out to $270/child for the 180 day school year...eek!

Okay, hopefully you're convinced that buying lunch is a bad idea but need some ideas for what to take that's going to save you all that money. Probably the least economical option is to buy deli meat for sandwiches but it's still cheaper than eating out. If you choose to buy it get the stuff that's on sale and have it sliced thin. Tuna salad and egg salad are low cost alternatives. If you have leftover chicken you can make a sandwich or salad with that. Leftovers in general can be a big money saver. Even if you don't have microwave access at work you can take soup or stew in a thermos bottle.

If you like to take potato chips or other munchies buy them in big bags and divide them up into small plastic bags. To save time in the morning you can do this all at once...it saves a lot over the pre-packaged lunch size bags.

A piece of fruit makes a good dessert and is also good for you but if you like sweet stuff consider baking a batch of cookies or Whoopie Pies (see our Recipe Box for instructions) and storing in individual plastic bags. This is much cheaper than buying Twinkies and you know what went into your homebaked goodies.