Work Lunches

English: A pile of Planter's brand trail mix, ...
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There are a few different ways to prepare lunches for work. Some are more expensive than others. In order from most expensive to least, there are:

  1. Vending machine meals.

  2. Convenience foods from the store.

  3. “Homemade” convenience foods from home.

  4. Foods made from scratch at home.

I have been using a combination of all since starting work at the inn, and it is sometimes a bit expensive. What I eat on any given day depends on how often I grocery shop, and where.

The most frugal choice is always foods made from scratch, but a few things stand in the way of my doing this these days. They are:

  1. I work at the inn, and am also building a freelance writing career.

  2. Any week days I have off from the inn are spent at the library because I do not have online access where I live.

  3. At least one evening a week must be spent at the library.

  4. I am lucky if I get one full day to work on the freelance career at home, and that day usually involves errands.

  5. I have these appliances to work with: (1) 2 burner hot plate, (1) 1 burner hot plate, (1) small toaster oven which I find a challenge to learn to use, and (1) microwave which I only know how to warm things up and make popcorn in. I am learning to use the latter two appliances, but it is taking time. I did recently purchase a 3 quart crock pot which is my most useful appliance.

  6. I do not have a lot of space for storing food.

  7. I have only a dorm size refrigerator with a tiny freezer.

Time and lack of proper appliances are my issues.

I did my grocery shopping today with work lunches in mind. This is what I came up with:

  • Bread, lettuce, turkey and shredded carrot to go with the sandwich cheese I have at home, for sandwiches.

  • Boxes of multi pack granola bars and fruit bars.

  • 2 – packs of applesauce with cinnamon, at .50 off each.

  • Bread and butter pickles.

  • 20 pack of Pepsi.

  • 20 pack chips.

  • 2 – 4 packs of yogurt, one at a dollar off.

  • 2 – 12 packs of string cheese, one for a dollar off.

  • 2 – 12 pack waters.

  • Bananas.

  • Apples.

I also purchased food items for dinners, which will lend themselves to lunches from leftovers. These items were:

  • Chicken

  • Corn

  • Peas

  • Steak

  • Sweet potato

  • Squash

  • Garlic

The two meals made from these ingredients should provide me with 3 meals each. One dinner and two lunches. I divided by three in my cost figuring and used only 2/3 of the cost of each meal for my calculations.

Total cost = $60.23

Plus, I had enough ingredients to mix up a batch of trail mix, and two boxes of fruit twists.

This food should provide me with 2.5 weeks of full lunches for work, plus another 1.5 weeks of partial lunches made sort of complete by doubling up on a couple of things.

$60.23/4 weeks = about $15.06 per week

Now, one alternative is purchasing food from the vending machines at work. These lunches would have almost no nutritional value and would include a burger/sandwich each day, as well as a soda/water, a bag of chips and a candy bar. Plus, the occasional trail mix.

Total Cost = $106.95

$106.95/4 = about $26.74 per week

This is a savings of:

$106.95 – $60.23 = $46.72


$46.72/4 = $23.36 per week.

Now, given the right conditions, I could be saving quite a bit more on my work lunches. And there will likely come a point this winter when I will have to because I work less hours this time of year. But, for now, I have a happy medium that does not stress me out due to lack of time.

Is there anything you can be doing to save a few dollars on your work lunches each week?



6 thoughts on “Work Lunches

  1. A great way to cut costs on dinners & lunches is to purchase beef bones or use the ones you have left from a small roast or other cut of beef. Or you could use the carcass of a small roasting chicken or even bones from pieces and cook these bones to make stock. You can make a ton of stock from either choice of bones by cooking them more than once for your stock and then you have it to flavour your rice or other sides, broth to drink for a nutritious drink or a base for soup. It’s amazing how much nutrition you can get from cooking these bones and drinking the broth is a great way to prevent getting sick in these winter months.


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