Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PYOL: Pack Your Own Lunch

I'm going to share/give this advice right now, however I'll be the first to admit that I don't always follow my own advice. 

This might sound like a no-brainer, but if you work out of home and in an office, packing your own lunch can be an excellent way to save money.  And, as a bonus, packing your own lunch can also save you extra calories too!

For example:  Let's just say that you go with the cheapest value meal on McDonalds menu each day - the double cheeseburger meal for $2.99 (and for this example, I'm going to avoid calculating any taxes or ahem, biggie sizing anything). 

$2.99 x 5 days a week x 52 weeks per year = $777.40

Or you can get a can of Campbell's Select Harvet soup each day for $1.50 per can.

$1.50 x 5 days a week x 52 weeks per year = $390

That's a $387.40 savings per year at least!  Often when we eat out, we splurge and end up spending even more.  I never get the $2.99 meal - I often opt for a salad, bottled water, and then top it off with an iced coffee and spend upwards of $10 for lunch!

But of course I know that people avoid bringing their own lunch because it isn't as fun.  So how do you make it fun?

1.  First and foremost - grab a lunch buddy!  If you can find someone else who is interested in dining in with you, it makes it easier.  Half of eating out tends to be the socialization.  Why not get someone else involved with you to bring lunch in?  You can even take turns bringing the lunch and make it fun!

2.  Bring left overs.  When canned soup and tv dinners don't cut it, bring in leftovers from the night before. 

3.  It's all in the presentation.  Eating leftovers or tv dinners or soup out of the boring packaging can be depressing.  Grab a pretty plate that you like and keep it in the office.  Serve your food on it daily to make your food seem more posh.

4.  Don't eat in your work position.  If you have some place in your office to go to get away for a moment to eat - this would be optimal.  However, even if you can't, try to turn to a different position or angle from your normal work setting.  If you normally sit directly in front of your computer (like I do), turn to the side.  It won't feel as monotonous. 

5.  Have back up plans.  I like to keep a small stock of non-perishable options in my desk drawer (various soups, ramen noodles, etc.) so that if I'm not feeling what I brought in that day, I have some options.  It's also great for the days where I forget to prepare.

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