Thursday, October 16, 2014

Frugal Reset

With 2 moves in 2 months, a 2 week trip home, a trip to the coast, another vacation coming up next month (I have to cram travel into about 4 months of winter due to job duties in the field season), an out of town conference or two, and perhaps random food costs shot up.

Too much eating out.  Too much road food.  Too much prepared food.

Another factor was canning season.  Once I got back into a place with a kitchen, the apartment I have for the winter, I wanted to get some things put up for winter.  I couldn't really do that in the camper with such limited space and stove smaller than the canner.  I didn't get outdoor accomations arranged.

So, food costs shot up.  It's easy to have that happen.  When traveling, entertaining, having visitors, etc and especially when working more than 3 blocks from home now that I commute, it seems easier to just buy something for lunch or hit up the local cafe for a sandwich.

But alas, those lunches, about 2 a week on average, were costing me 10$ a shot, double that if I was treating a friend.   That adds up compared to bringing lunch.

I have made SOME effort to have lunch ready at the office.  I found cheap soups at Grocery Outlet.  When I remember to eat them I'm spending $1.50 to $4.00 per lunch (because I don't JUST have soup...a piece of fruit or meat or bread or crackers to go with completes the meal). 

So, what would I save if I cut back on the store and restaurant lunches and made more of an effort to have my lunch pre-planned and brought it in?

Turns out there's an app for that.  Actually a calculator:

Lunch savings calculator

 Even with 0% return, if I ate 20 lunches from a brown bag (or you know, from groceries etc) for an average cost of $3.00 per lunch, vs eating out and buying grab-n-go stuff at the store for an average cost of $10.00, I would save $1680.00 per year!   OK, not quite that since I don't eat 30 lunches out per month right now.  Even if it's half that, $840.00 per year, that's pretty damn good.  $70.00 per month.  Probably double my utility bill. 

 Good to know too.  These sorts of reminders help me reset the frugality meter.  Daily small choices got me the money to buy that land for cash.  It's still easy to forget how much those small things add up.

 That said, today's lunch was left over baked salmon, elk jerky, and 1/3 of a box of soup.  The soup cost $1.99 for the quart box (organic carrot ginger soup made without dairy!).  So about $0.66 for that.  The left over salmon and elk jerky were from a community dinner last night so those were basically free.  I'm also having a cup of tea so whatever one tea bag (actually, I reuse them so a fraction of one tea bag) costs.   Let's call it $0.75 for lunch today.  And it was REALLY GOOD lunch.


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