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7 Smart Ways to Save Money on Lunches This Year
7 Smart Ways to Save Money on Lunches This Year
Whether you’re eating out or dining in, food is expensive. If the thought of your latest grocery bill gets you stressed, know that there are simple ways to shop smarter. Here are seven clever ways to save money on lunches this year.
Make a Budget
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, married couples with children spent 13.3% of their income on food, while single parents with at least one child under 18 spent 14.9%. This, on average, adds up to roughly $8,000 annually. Yikes.
If you want to save money on lunches this year, it’s wise to make a budget and stick to it. There are many helpful tools online and apps you can download and use on your phone. You can also access and use templates through Microsoft Word and Excel. These template sheets will guide you through setting up your budget and sticking to it for the year.
Plan Your Lunches
Once you have your budget established and know how much you can spend on meals, it's best to plan for the entire week. Here's a simple way how:
- Grab a sheet of paper and at the top, write out the days of the week.
- Select a meal you plan to make for lunch each day.
- Look up the recipes and write down the necessary ingredients on a separate sheet of paper to make your grocery list for the week.
If you want to involve your child a bit more in the process, you can get a whiteboard for your kitchen and write down the names of the lunches you plan on making for each day of the week. You can also include your child in the meal planning process itself. Get their input and ask what they’d like.
Get an App to Shop
When you're shopping at the grocery store, have you ever felt tempted to splurge and buy a lot of unnecessary food? Use a shopping app to stop yourself from buying items you don't need and blowing your budget. These days, most grocery stores have apps you can use to do all your shopping from the comfort of home. All you have to do is make your online list in advance, and a store attendant will get your items. After you pay and arrange a time to pick up your groceries, the attendant will put your things directly into your car — saving you time and money.
If You’re Going to Eat Out, Make It Lunch
The bottom line is eating out is often more expensive than making your own meals. However, dining out can be a nice treat for you and your children. Don't forget about having food delivered to your home, as most restaurants now offer this option, too.
You can still order food from restaurants. Learn to do it smartly, and you'll save money:
- Eat out at lunch. You and your family will get much more bang for your buck if you eat out at lunch. Restaurants often have lunch specials with extra food at half the price.
- Don’t eat out as frequently. Based on your budget, limit your meals out to once a month or once every other week.
- Limit your portion size. Don’t eat your entire meal and take home your leftovers.
Save and Use Your Leftovers
When you make your lunches, make sure you cook significant portions of food. It’s essential to have enough food on hand for your entire family, and having leftovers for later in the week is a great way to save money and help you with meal planning.
However, it's not just enough to keep your leftovers — you need to use them, too. They can be delicious as is, but you can also get creative and mix and match meats from previous meals with other ingredients found in your refrigerator. The best rule of thumb is not to let anything go to waste.
Go With Store Brands
Purchase grocery store products over brand names, and you'll find you save up to 25% on certain items. You can prioritize purchasing store brands on the following items:
- Sugar, salt, pepper and other baking materials in your pantry
- Frozen, canned, and dried fruit and vegetables
- Bread and cheese
Other items are really up to personal preference. You may always have a special place in your heart for the brand name Oreos, while your partner may find that the store brand tastes just the same. Experiment with different store brands to uncover significant savings.
Shop Produce That’s in Season
When you shop for produce in season, there's a better chance it was grown locally and didn't require the expensive shipping cost across multiple states to reach your hands. This lowers the price for you to purchase. Supporting local farmers is also better for your local economy.
Produce that's in season is at peak nutrients and flavor — an added perk for you. If you want to embrace buying in-season produce for your lunches, teach your children about this sustainable practice, and together you can learn about cooking in season.
Lunches That Are Smart and Save Money
Take a few small steps like making a budget or planning your lunches for the week. You'll soon find yourself committed to intelligent ways of saving money and eating well.