Managing your budget: 5 better options then blowing your money on eating lunch out

Posted by: admin at 4:32 pm on November 12th, 2015

Are you trying to manage your money better, but keep getting sucked into eating lunch out?

Escaping the office for a while by buying lunch out can seem like a great idea. You can get a good-tasting meal, you can go outside and get some fresh air and it doesn't cost that much money… does it?

But it does.

Our budget intervention:

Right now, take out your calculators (or calculator smartphone app) and crunch these numbers:

  • How much your typical lunch costs you (be honest): e.g. $14
  • Multiply by how many times a week you eat out: e.g. x3=$42
  • Multiply by how many weeks there are in a year (52): e.g.: x52=$2,184

And voila: you have the grand total of how much you spend eating lunch out for a year. Perhaps your total is more than our example, perhaps it's less. But either way is lunch out really worth that much to you? What else could you spend that money on? 

Even if you decided to not eat out for just one month, what could you do with the money you saved?

 5 better options for your money:

Option 1: Any type of leftovers:

Let's get one thing straight: leftovers are awesome. They taste great, are usually healthy and don't add much to your grocery budget. Try deliberately cooking a little extra servings of dinner and putting it straight into lunch containers while serving up. Lots of common Australian meals are perfect to reheat the next day: roast, casseroles, stir-fry's, fish, meatloaf and more. If it's good enough to eat at dinner time, it'll usually be good enough to eat at lunch!

Health tip: For OH&S reasons, its recommended to put leftovers in the fridge while it's still cooking (in under 90 minutes) and consume most food within 1-2 days

Options 2-4: Experiment with these quick and easy meals:

Source: BuzzFeed

SALADS- Such as this 1.5 minute Asian Chicken Salad

Work Lunch 1.5 Minutes Easy Asian Salad

Salads are obviously super healthy and can also be fun to experiment with. Find this recipe here

WRAPS- Such as this Hummus Spiral Wraps

Budget Lunch: Hummus Wrap

Another good way of using your leftovers, but there are also lots of perfect meat fillings you can find just by exploring the supermarket. This recipe is here

TUNA BASED LUNCHES- such as this

Creative Lunches: Tuna Based Meals

Yes, this recipe is another salad- but tuna is a very versatile lunch ingredient. You can also try adding it to microwavable rice packets with a few other ingredients such as cashews and sun-dried tomatoes. Just make sure that your coworkers are okay with the smell if you have lunch in close quarters with them. This recipe is here

Option 5: Eating lunch out sometimes- but by setting a budget and sticking to it

If you're willing to try all this, but still keen on eating out occasionally as your special treat- that's fine!

Just set yourself a limit per meal, per fortnight. If you get creative and explore your options, you can actually get pretty good meals for your budget for as low as $5 per meal and eating out 1-3 times a fortnight as a maximum.

The key is to stay strong and stick to your cap. Don't get sucked into the 'up-sell'- if they ask if you want an extra drink or to upsize your meal, just say no and reject their attempt at grabbing more money off you. You're better off just grabbing a glass of water back at the office and keeping your lunch-expenses manageable. 


Remember: don't be discouraged. Setting budgets and looking at your finances should be a chance to empower yourself. Always just do your best to figure out a few key ways you can start improving your personal financial situation, and celebrate your little victories.

If you feel like your financial situation has become unmanageable, then a free phone consultation with us may help. Please ring us on 1800 113 328 or we can call you if you fill out this short form.