We are all keen to try to save money these days, what with the prevailing economic conditions. Most of us know that to do this we should cut back on unnecessary expenditure, cut out expensive credit and generally try to live more frugally. But did you appreciate that by making a few simple changes to your eating habits you could also save plenty? Here is how one reader did just that…..
“Eating out is one of the worst things we can do for our finances. While I think everyone should eat out occasionally (it can be very relaxing and socially rewarding), I don’t think eating out for lunch every day is acceptable; although it’s something that many of us do. I used to eat lunch out five times per week at about $8 a pop. Putting that in perspective, that’s about $40 per week, or $160 per month, or worse yet, $1,920 per year!
Now let’s fast-forward to today, at which point I find myself eating out only once per week. At $8 a pop, that’s only about $32 per month. So, what do I eat instead? I find that Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches with a side of fruit is an excellent replacement for those $8 meals I had been partaking of. Later in this post, I’ll explain how to make PB&J sandwiches quickly, economically, and efficiently; but for now, let’s do the math. I can buy a loaf of bread for $2 and some peanut butter and jelly for about $5. This makes 10 sandwiches, which, at 4 sandwiches per week, equates to about $12 per month. This, along with a banana per day at about $1 per pound (organic, ~3 bananas per pound), comes out to about $20 per month or $240 per year. Adding in our one day per week of eating out, we get $240 + $32*$12 = $240 + $384 = $624 per year. Subtracting this from $1,920, we get a whopping $1,296 in savings for the year!
Now, as Dave Ramsey would likely point out, I could invest that $1,296 in the market at a hypothetical ~8% and turn it into nearly $9,000 in 25 years [1296*1.08^25 = $8,875 + change]. Will I do that? Probably not… but I wish I were disciplined enough to do just that.
How to Make PB&J Sandwiches Quickly and Efficiently
There are a couple of problems with my proposal. The first problem is that, if you are like me, you often don’t have time to slap together a sandwich nearly every morning. The second problem is that you will likely grow tired of peanut butter and jelly after a while. I’ll address both of these problems below.
The great thing about PB&J sandwiches is that they freeze very well. I recommend that you make up a couple weeks’ worth of sandwiches at a time–this means you’ll only have to put in the extra effort to make your lunch twice a month!!! This really does save a lot of work (and a lot of time), but there are some precautions to take. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t want the jelly to actually make contact with the bread. If it does, it will bond with the bread and crystallize when it freezes. To work around this, just remember to spread peanut butter on both pieces of bread. The peanut butter will serve as a protective layer, preventing the jelly from making contact with the bread. The only other important point is to make sure you seal your bag completely (I recommend Ziploc(R) handy bags). You don’t want your sandwiches to end up “freezer burned.” To recap: twice a month, get out 16 pieces of bread, spread peanut butter on each piece, and add jelly to make a sandwich. Drop each sandwich in an individual sandwich bag, seal completely, and pop in the freezer. Voila! You now have your lunch (for the most part) for the next two weeks! When lunch time rolls around, just grab a sandwich from the freezer, let thaw for about an hour, and eat up! It will taste like you just made it.
Variety is key. There are many ways you can spice this up. Use a different kind of jelly each month. Use honey instead of jelly (this is REALLY good, by the way). Heck, if you get tired of peanut butter sandwiches, make a different kind of sandwich. The possibilities are endless. Peanut butter is what works for me, but I’m pretty sure the math will work out in your favor if you choose a different kind of sandwich. The important thing is you are saving money. AND you are probably eating healthier, too.
So… the next time you find yourself paying $8 or more for your lunch, remember that the REAL cost may be much greater than $8.”
There you have it. Substantial savings from just a few simple changes that anyone can master.