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How to save money on work lunches

Posted 14 July 2016

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Could you save money by taking your lunch to work?


If you’re trying to save money it’s a good idea to look at how much you’re spending on lunch everyday. It can sometimes be these little everyday expenses that add up to a large amount and place a lot of pressure on your budget.

If you do it right you might be able to make a saving by taking your own packed lunch to work. Here are some tips to help you transition from buying food at work, or at the shop round the corner, to economical home-made lunches instead. 

1. Make your lunches all in one go

If you can, you should aim to make your lunches all in one go. Lots of people might be put off making their own lunch because they don’t want to stand around in the kitchen all night when they get home from work – after a hard day’s work and a long commute who can blame them? But when you plan your lunches ahead for the rest of the week, you side-step this monotonous task and get it out of the way all in one go. 

You could prepare sandwiches for the rest of the week, or at least a couple of days ahead. 

Or why not make a big batch of a meal you really love on a Sunday – like a stew or lasagne, and then divide it up for your lunches the next week? Don’t forget to make good use of your freezer so that none of it goes to waste. 

If you put aside an hour or so at the weekend to do this it should become part of your weekly routine and feel like less of a chore. 


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2. Make a list and shop smart

It’s always a good idea to make a shopping list before you hit the supermarket. This way you’re far less likely to be lured into making impulse purchases and waste time wandering around the aisles pondering what you need. 

Make sure you decide what you’re going to prepare for your lunches for the week ahead and add those ingredients to your list. This way you avoid the risk of forgetting the ingredients you need, and you have the motivation to prepare your lunch because you’ve already spent money on the food. 

There are also some general supermarket tips you should bear in mind to save money. Try going shopping towards the end of day when certain items will be marked down, or simply switching to own brand products rather than famous brand names. To save even more in the supermarket, check out our top tips on how to save money on your big shop. 


3. Use leftovers

Don’t forget that you can kill two birds with one stone and use your leftovers from tea for lunch the next day. 

This is definitely a money-saver as you’ll be getting too meals for the price of one and avoiding unnecessary waste. 


4. Make a weekly/monthly budget for your lunches

Just because you’ve decided to make your own lunches doesn’t mean you can never buy lunch out. What if someone suggests going out one day and you really want to tag along? Or someone wants to meet for a working lunch? You should have a rough idea of what you’re willing to spend each week on your lunch – your lunch budget – and really try not to go over that amount. If you end up being under budget because of your packed lunches – great! This means you might be able to afford to buy lunch on the odd day or when a colleague wants to go somewhere. 

Having a budget shows you how much you have to spend in the supermarket for your packed lunch ingredients and whether you can afford to buy the odd lunch at work as a treat. 


5. Make your meal interesting and nutritious

If you’re going to commit to taking your own lunch to work, it’s really important that you bring things that you a) want to eat, and b) gives you the energy and the nutrition that you need. You don’t want to end up snacking on your lunch during the morning and then have to buy lunch at work anyway because what you have with you isn’t filling enough. 

BBC good food have lots of healthy lunch recipes for you to look at, and great recipes for any meal that definitely won’t push you over budget. 

When money is tight, it’s important to find little ways here and there to take the financial pressure off. Why not try taking your lunch to work for a couple of weeks and see whether you notice the difference in your pocket. For lots more money-saving tips, explore the rest of the blog. 


by Christine Walsh

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