Lunch might not seem like it’s draining your bank account, but if you go out to eat a few times a week, it can really add up. Commit to doing lunch differently and you can save a heap. Here are four strategies:
1. Buy frozen foods.
Stock your freezer with frozen meals. It's one of the easiest ways to save money on your lunch. Frozen meals only run you about $5 each, or just $25 per work week, which is probably equivalent to only one or two lunches at a restaurant. And guess what? It can be a healthier option because frozen meals help you practice portion control. (It might even save you from post-lunch sleepy syndrome.) Just make sure you’re purchasing meals that have no preservatives and watch out for sodium levels.
2. Pack your lunches on Sunday.
Don't waste your time making a sack lunch every day. Instead, prepare a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday and your body will thank you for the extra 10 to 30 minutes of sleep you’ll gain each night.
Remember, you don't want lunch break to be a bore, so if you cook one big meal on Sunday, make sure it's easy to change up throughout the week. Chicken, rice and vegetables all cook quickly and taste great with different sauces and cheeses.
3. Use your leftovers.
Most families throw away so much food on a weekly basis. A better idea is to turn your dinner leftovers into a lunchtime feast. Apps like BigOven help you use your leftovers to make yummy, new dishes. All you have to do is enter the ingredients you have and the app will show you different recipe options for your leftovers. You’ll save money using food that would have been thrown out.
4. Share with friends.
Whether it’s a coworker’s birthday or you forgot your lunch at home, there are some days when you're forced to go out for lunch. Don’t worry. There are ways to reduce your bill and still enjoy your meal. Sharing a plate with someone is the best way to save at restaurants. A dinner entree is usually big enough for two lunches, and you’ll cut your bill in half. Tell the server you’re splitting, and you’ll both get your own plates. If you can’t agree on a meal to share with someone, go for a lunch menu item or an appetizer. You’ll save a lot and won’t have to worry about fitting your lunch leftovers in the office refrigerator.
How do you save on lunch?