As you all know, my tendency has been to eat out for lunches. How much has this been costing me?
- In 2010, a total of $780.51 or an average of a little over $100/month. The highest month was $117.54.
- In 2011, a total of $1,699.64 or an average of $141.64/month. The highest month was $202.32, but that was an anomaly.
- In 2012, a total of $1,994.52 (through November) or an average of $181.32/month. The highest month was $235.27 and there were a few others at or around $200.
These numbers include the cost of lunches, anything I’ve bought from the vending machine, and cafes. The amount that I spent in 2010 and 2011 was fairly reasonable, but my lunch costs definitely went through the roof in 2012 and I want to fix that.
My new job gives me a fresh start and I’m going to take that as an opportunity to pack my lunch and snacks. This means morning and afternoon snacks including chocolate, muffins, fruits, and vegetables, as well as the main lunch portion. I’ve found places in my new office to eat with people without buying lunch and some of my new coworkers bring their lunch, so I’m going to give this a try.
I used to buy muffins from a coffee shop for $2-3, then lunch at $5-15, and a chocolate bar from the vending machine in the afternoon for $1. I also would buy yogurts from the grocery store for $0.65 and keep them in the kitchen at the office, but that is included in my Groceries spending. (I know some people who buy yogurts from the coffee shops for > $1 per day.)
How much do I think this is going to cost me? (I’m ignoring yogurts since I was buying those from the grocery store all along.) Well, let’s take a look at today’s groceries receipt:
- Large block of cheese, $5.49. I’m guessing this is at least two weeks’ worth of sandwiches, so $2.75/week.
- Deli ham for four lunches, $5.28.
- Muffin mixes, $1.99-2.49 each. Each of these makes about 12 muffins, which is two weeks’ worth of snacks. Bought 50 baking cups for $0.99, which is enough for ~4 batches of muffins or ~8 weeks. $1.24/week
- Fruit, ~$5/week.
- Loaf of bread, $2.50. This is probably enough for two weeks of sandwiches, but I’m not sure if I’ll want to eat it the second week or not. We’ll see how it tastes :)
The cost of the large block of cheese, the deli ham, and the loaf of bread is the equivalent of two lunches out. But the block of cheese should last for two weeks of sandwiches and the loaf of bread might.
- Total cost per week: ~$16.77
- Old cost per week: $40 (I’m only counting four days since my plan involves eating out on Fridays, but bringing my lunch the other days.)
- Weekly savings: $23.23
I’m likely to only gain $100 back each month from this, so we’ll see how it goes, but that’s an extra $100/month to throw at the mortgage!
I’m not doing this for the cost savings, but to make lunches more easily time efficient and to have more control over what I’m eating. It’s far easier to bring fruit to eat throughout the day if I’m already going to the effort of bringing lunch food to eat. I’m curious to see how much I end up spending on lunches/groceries going forward, to see if I actually save much money this way.
Readers, what do you do for lunch? Do you brown bag, do you grab a quick lunch, or do you do sit down lunches? Why did you go that way?