Pack, pack, pack it up (as in your lunch)

How brown bagging can put better food in your belly and leave more wiggle room in your wallet

You don’t have to be back to school or starting a new job to consider packing a lunch. Maybe you’re looking to tighten your belt in more ways than one and need cheaper, more nutritional options to get there. If that’s the case then toting along your lunch everyday can really benefit you.

Pack, pack, pack it up! Brown bagging - not so bad when you're saving some cash!

Pack, pack, pack it up! Brown bagging – not so bad when you’re saving some cash.

Let’s talk costs

Most everyone knows dining out can cost big bucks. Just think about the costs of doing that every day over the life or your career. A simple $7 lunch eaten out every week day, plus or minus a $2 tip depending on where you go, could mean as much as $45 a week spent on a mere five meals.

Now take that times 12 months and wow! That’s just over $2,300 spent in a year on lunches alone…and you still have to eat at other times of the day – breakfast, dinner, coffee breaks anyone?

Really, the math makes the case for why you should consider packing your lunch and the snacks and drinks you’ll want throughout the day. Just think… if you could split that annual cost for dined out lunches in half, you’d have a little more cash on the side to do the things you enjoy – beyond eating lunch!

How to do it

It doesn’t take a genius to determine what foods you would or wouldn’t be willing to put in your mouth. Just listen to your belly. How about a simple sandwich, a can of soup, or leftovers? It doesn’t really matter what you bring, what matters is that doing so could satiate your hunger and save you money that could be better used elsewhere.

Things to keep in mind

  • Consider variety. You likely won’t want to eat the same old thing day after day, so mix it up. Pick and choose what you’ll eat week to week, day to day. Just know you’re already making a sacrifice by bringing your lunch, so don’t limit yourself. Buy those fruit snacks you love and enjoy!
  • What will keep? If you don’t have a break room refrigerator you may want to make sure that whatever you bring will stay good for the several hours leading up to lunchtime. If not, get an insulated lunch box and ice pack to help your cause. (To be ultra cheap – check your local thrift stores for used lunch bags! Score!)
  • What will stave off hunger? How terrible would it be to eat lunch at noon, get hungry 30 minutes later and then not have anything left to nibble on? You’ll want to have enough food, or certain kinds of foods that will keep your production up and hungry grumbles at bay.
  • Consider a food drawer. Why not stock up a work desk drawer or cabinet with last minute foods that will keep over time. Ramen noodles, instant mac and cheese and fitness bars are all fine options when dining on a dime and racing against the clock.

Do the math

If your motivation is out of sorts – maybe do some math so you can realize the savings potential. How much will two slices of bread, a slab of meat and cheese cost you over a week? What about a handful of chips you bagged yourself? Really be truthful and measure your savings so you can see that the scrimping is really worth the effort.

If you like this concept and want to follow more of my thoughts, see me @cheapgirlsaves on Twitter. Leave other ideas in the comment section below. I want to know what you have to say and what tips you might have to offer!

Peace and much love.

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