Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Taking Lunch To Work

My husband used to eat out for lunch every day that he worked. I convinced him to aim for under $10 a day, and with a free sandwich every once in awhile courtesy of a Safeway Deli Card sometimes he'd even beat that goal! But just as easily he'd go over, so saying that he spent $50 a week on lunch is being rather generous. I finally cracked at the thought of this money flying out the window - at least $2600 a year! It's not the thing I want to do most in the world after working and then making dinner, but I started making his lunches every night.

I was worried that there might be complaints about variety, but it turns out my husband's real needs revolve around quality quantity, not keeping things interesting. He's a superintendent at a construction company, so filling him up is really the main goal. If he can have his favorite thing in the world - Timm's Jalapeno Chips - he's perfectly happy to have them every day.

Lunch consists of sandwich, 2 chocolate chip cookies and jalapeno chips. I buy a couple party size bag of chips each month (about $10) and pour them each night into a Gladware container to keep them from getting crushed. I also buy a couple tubs of Toll House Cookie Dough each month (about $12). Not only is this more delicious than out of a box and cheaper than at the bakery, but this way they aren't lying around for unchecked consumption. I learned the hard way that if I have a box of cookies lying around to last the month, they'll probably be gone in a week. I bake a week's worth of cookies at a time, and knowing I have just enough or I'll have to bake more keeps me away from them. My husband loves this sweet dark whole grain bread so I buy it even though it's a little pricey. I need about 2 and a half loaves a month (about $12). I buy a big tub of this pastrami at Costco because it too is delicious along with pre-sliced pepper jack cheese. The pastrami is a little pricey, although I think it sells in my store for about $12 - I need to double check - and the cheese is about $5. And then I supplement the pastrami with some salami (about $5) and other Safeway Deli lunch meat (about $10). Top that with a piece of lettuce or some sprouts and he's done.

That totals about $66 a month. I also buy 2 packs of dijon mustard at Costco and tubs of mayo at Safeway which I use in other cooking as well. These last a really long time, so the cost is pretty negligible. Nevertheless, I know I could probably do it even cheaper. I've looked into baking my own bread or making my own cookie dough. If anyone has a great sweet dark whole grain recipe, let me know! I should probably look more closely at the price of cheese that isn't sliced, but the convenience of the sliced cheese is part of what keeps me committed to making his lunches everyday. The easier it is on me, the more I know I will stick with it.

Due to a recent salmonella outbreak, I have looked into growing my own sprouts, an activity I loved doing with my mom as a kid, and I will post on my experience with that soon. I was also inspired by The Frugal Girl to tackle our breakfast expenses by making my own yogurt  and granola bars. I'll post about my experiences with that soon. But all in all, reducing the cost to $66 a week still saves us over $1800 a year! That's penny pinching at it's finest :)

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