In my last post, I emphasized the importance of monitoring and tracking price increases when planning your brown bag lunch schedule. Inflation is a real problem with food, and brown bag lunch savings can quickly be erased if you are not careful.
Another good strategy is to notice and incorporate relevant sales offerings on a week to week basis. This sounds obvious enough, but many people overlook this approach when preparing lunches. If they prepare their own lunches at all, most folks view the task as part of the dreaded 9 – 5 rut and think nothing about what goes into it. Instead, we operate on auto-pilot and simply buy that same sliced lunch meat and bread that we have bought for years, oblivious to the twelve percent cost increase that may have occurred over just the past year.
It’s a shame because so many options abound. As an example, my lunch bills have averaged less than two dollars a meal this week because I made a simple sale item my entrée of the week. Each week, the leading supermarket in my city puts whole rotisserie chicken on sale for $4.99. I bought one, quartered it at home, and took it to work, along with a piece of fruit, each of the next four days. Yes, I sacrifice variety for four days, but so what? The meat is juicy and tasty, and I’ll tolerate some repetition to save $20 – $30 over the course of the week.
This is just an example. The same supermarket chain offers a bucket of fried chicken for the same price once a week, so I can change the flavor next week if I like. The beauty is that these same sales occur each week, so I know I have a wonderfully frugal option available at any time.
At other times, those popular frozen food entrees from Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, and others go on nifty sales, sometimes as good as five for ten dollars. Obviously, you want to stock up during these sales. Doing so is, of course, much easier if you have ample storage space, which takes us back to my earlier post on the stand-alone freezer.
Another trick of the trade here is to scout out the best sales using the weekly store flyers. Better still, you should by now be signed up for email delivery of store specials and frequent shopper discounts, as I discussed here. Doing so enables you to maximize savings by (1) discovering the sale items, (2) pairing the sales with available coupons, and (3) stockpiling the items for use during non-sale periods.
Brown bag lunch savings are still available, and they should be maximized in any frugal lifestyle. But merely taking lunch to work is not enough; it takes planning to achieve meaningful savings.