Friday, 12 October 2012

Working Lunches

It's amazing how quickly you can spend money on food at work, but with a bit of very quick arithmetic you can see why.

Imagine it's first thing Monday morning and you're sat at your desk thinking about the whole week ahead. Seems like a good time to have a bacon butty. You know, start work on a high note and a full belly. It'll make you feel better...

Later Monday, you're feeling a bit peckish. You didn't bother with lunch, so you nip out for a packet of biscuits to keep you going. The following day, you go out and get yourself a sandwich from the local butty shop, and so it goes on through the week.

It's very obvious to see where this is going isn't it? At a conservative estimate, you could easily spend £15 or more on feeding yourself at work each week, and spending that amount on feeding yourself doesn't seem entirely unreasonable, does it? Well...

With only a small amount of effort you can seriously cut this down. Imagine feeding yourself for the WHOLE MONTH on £15, or even less. Now it starts to make sense - making your own lunches, for example, will cost considerably less than £3 a day. In fact, £3 will buy you a loaf of bread and some cheese to make sandwiches for a week or more with. Even if you want to stick to cooked lunches, you can still do it really cheaply. Adding it up over the year also puts a perspective on it. £15 a week is £700 a year, most of which you can save with a little care. But back to the food...

The vast majority of offices have a microwave now, and supermarkets sell tins of ravioli, beans and sausages, spaghetti etc. for as little as 40p a can. Don't be put off by the price, the ravioli, for instance, doesn't taste any worse than more expensive brands. Alternatively, there are often deals like 2 packets of chicken kievs for £3. Combined with 2 cans of sweetcorn for 50p each, you've got a proper dinner for 4 days at £1/day (assuming you have an office fridge). And then there's noodles...

My local sells a value range of noodles that are 10p a packet! They taste like crap, so I get the next range up, which taste much better but still only cost 18p!! ;) The same place has also started selling quiches for 80p each and they appear to be no different from the regular kind at £2 a throw.

Lastly, there's always pasta and cous cous, to which you can add some vegetables, cheese, bacony bits and the like. Taking all this together, there's actually plenty of scope for healthy eating and by keeping some variety to your lunches, it helps you keep to such a tight budget.

If you still find yourself hungry at times, there's a couple more things you can do to bolster your will power.

A good tactic is to have a decent breakfast. This will enable you to get further through the day before you get hungry. Basic bags of non branded, value porridge oats can be had for as little as 60p for a 2kg bag, and that should last well over a month. Once, I was so skint, I ate nothing else at work for an entire month o_0
I wouldn't suggest that myself, unless you're really committed, as it can become very wearing very quickly.

Tactical snacks. Snacks make the office day more bearable, but handle with care. If you're anything like me, you can easily eat half a packet before you've finished a cup of coffee. So what to do?

You can buy bargain biscuit packs, or broken biscuits (many indoor markets sell these), which are certainly cheaper than branded ones, or you can buy ones that aren't quite that "more-ish". I buy Tesco own brand Oaties, they're a bit like McVities' Hob Nobs only cheaper. The trick is: they're not that interesting. There's no chocolate or anything else in them, so I don't tend to chomp through a packet as quickly, but they are just enough to take the edge of my hunger and there'll still be some left tomorrow.

So basically, with a bit of will power, and a sharp eye for cheap and simple food at your supermarket, you can keep your money where it belongs: In your pocket, not the till.


  1. I'm good at bring lunch to work and if I do forget I'm usually satisfied grabbing a cheap coffee and bangle for a few bucks to tie me over until I get home for dinner. Hubby used to be terrible with lunches, eating out almost daily, he's cut it almost completely out only going if there's a business-type meeting over lunch which he can then usually expense anyway. Lunch adds up quickly!

    1. I used to be just like your hubby, always eating out.
      One place I worked had a great pub on just the other side of the works car park. It was fatal for me and I used to easily spend £200 a month eating there. Of course it also helped me pile on the pounds too.
      I'm much leaner physically as well as financially these days!


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