I work in the heart of Covent Garden, London which is fantastic. There’s a lot to do at lunch time, and can easily go into one of the many shops around and deposit a lot of my monthly salary on clothes, electronic goods and other random items I deem to be ‘essential’ in my impulse buying status.
For lunch I usually go to a lovely little place nearby that does comforting home cooked food such as lasagne, cauliflower cheese and stews – nothing I can’t do myself, but it’s always that bit nicer when you don’t have to lift a finger.
If I go there every day for a week though, it’ll cost me £30/£35. That’s around £120/£140 per month just on lunch.
Most of the time I don’t think of this as anything other than a necessity…but there are times when I think to myself…I really could save myself money if I planned a little better and put a little more effort into making lunch for myself.
So here are my top 5 ways to save money on lunch.
Fruit it out
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say, so it’s a good idea to have something hearty in the morning. A health food place near to where I work does porridge for £1 and what better way to start of the day then with those nutritious oats?
This gives a slow release of energy which will allow you to carry on for most of the day. By eating several items of fruit throughout the day you can easily skip lunch without feeling hungry or fatigued, as well as boost your ‘5-a-day’ count of fruit and veg.
Meet with clients over lunch
My clients seem to love me, and I have a lot of them. Where possible it’s a good idea to meet with them to discuss vital parts of their portfolios and the working relationship between us. It’s good to see clients face to face where possible, as it shows you care. Meeting over lunch is also nice, as it means it’s slightly less formal than in a stuffy meeting room, but more formal than if you had gone to a bar. Sometimes the client will offer to pay for your lunch, especially if you have traveled across the city to see them; otherwise you offer to pay for them and the lunch goes onto company expenses. Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?
Round Robin with workmates
I’m sure everyone at work will be spending pretty much the same amount on lunch as I do. They go to the same places a lot of the time, and so it does stand to reason (I can make a little money by offering to buy their lunch, taking their cash, and them not bothering about the few pence change they have). Why not arrange with 4 co-workers that you will each cook lunch for each other one day a week? You then go home and cook an extra large portion of something yummy – and probably costing no more than £15 total – and you get to save £15 per week by the fact you do this once, and then eat whatever someone else has cooked. The only problem with this is if someone cooks something you don’t like…such as a horrible curry dish.
Stock up on sandwich stuffs
Many workplaces have a fridge that you can keep some stuff in – I know mine does. Grab yourself a loaf of bread, some tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and cut meat from a local supermarket and you’ll probably find you can spend £10 on food which you can use over 3 lunches. Although this can be boring, especially if you eat the same thing a few days in a row, stocking up on tins of tuna, corned beef, sardines and salmon will offer a bit of variation to the daily routine.
Cook lunch and bring to work
The best way to save money over lunch, and to have it varied and tasty, is to cook for yourself and bring it in to work.
If you cook a nice risotto, stew or casserole at home – make that little bit extra and put the rest into a tight container to take into work and reheat the next day. It takes very little effort to do this, and once you get into a routine you will be able to do this most days if you have cooked for yourself the night before. Routine is the key for this one, as if I don’t do it often I find that I either leave the extra food at home and forget to take it in for lunch, or that I do take it in to work and put it in the fridge, but forget it’s there by the time lunch comes around, in which case I go out and buy lunch anyway.
If you don’t wish to have the same food for lunch as you did for dinner the night before, simply place the excess food into the freezer for another time.