Sometimes, there just isn’t enough to go around. In today’s economic climate, in which there are scores of people who are being laid off, having their work hours cut back, and having to pay more for necessities than ever before, putting a few dollars aside for a rainy day, much less retirement, can seem impossible. After all, aren’t these those rainy days that we were supposed to have saved up for? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to drag your family finances through the muck just trying to get by. Chances are good that you can safely trim what you spend so that you can get by until things turn around again. In fact, you might just pick up a few good habits during the lean times that will help you on the other side of the economic slump, as well! Paring back and adjusting your lunches is a great way to save some money every week, and there are health advantages, to boot.
The trick is to brown bag your lunch. Numerous experts in financial matters name daily lunches as being one of the best ways to trim lots of excess from your budget. There are other benefits to be had, though. Think about it. Most Americans who eat take-out for lunch spend between $8-$12 to do so. Even a fast-food lunch for many costs $7 when you include fries and a drink, plus the cost of gas for leaving the office or the shop to pick it up. Instead of this, consider the merits of a bag of fruit and some trail mix for lunch. Not enough, you say? Not true. Your body will adapt to a lower caloric intake for lunch if you offset it by eating a good, healthy breakfast, and snacking on HEALTHY snacks like raisins or whole grains throughout the day. You might actually begin to find that you aren’t hungry for lunch at all some days. For example, for one week, try this:
Every day, have one serving of oatmeal for breakfast, then use sandwich bags to divvy up your day’s snacks, four in all. In one bag, have six to eight organic baby carrots, a small bag of which shouldn’t cost more than $3, and will last all week. In another bag, have your favorite variety of apple. Bags of these, even organics, tend to cost less than ten dollars and will last you two weeks. Next, you’re going to want some protein, so grab some walnuts, almonds or pecans for another bag, but keep this to less than 1/4 of a cup. For the last bag, have some prepared granola cereal, but again, less than 1/4 of a cup. Just snack on these throughout the day, and for lunch, at most, pack yourself a small Tupperware container of salad. You might spend all of $30 for two weeks’ worth of snacks, breakfasts and lunches, compared to, at the low end, $41 for two weeks’ worth of lunches alone, or as much as $120, depending on your lunchtime habits. The bonus? That’s easy - chances are good you’ll lose some weight, lower your cholesterol, and enjoy lunch that much more because you won’t have that greasy, fast-food feeling for the rest of the day! The proteins from the nuts and granola will help you feel fuller longer, meaning that you’ll probably also eat less for dinner, as well. You might be surprised by how few calories your body actually does need to get you through the day.