Eating for Pennies – Part III – Lunch

Alright in this post I’ll look at what we typically eat for lunches (Also see Part I and Part II).  I’ll be honest.  Lunch is not an exciting meal in my house.  I typically eat leftovers during the week at work and on the weekends we often keep lunch to leftovers or something easy like a soup and sandwich.

My wife on the other hand does do some cooking for lunch.  She typically uses a few favorites from her daycare menu and what ever else she feels like.  Some examples include: homemade mac and cheese, mini english muffin pizzas,  pasta and sauce and tacos.  Most of the items can be made in under an hour and preferably under half an hour.

We typically don’t like doing complex cooking for lunch.  That is often saved for suppers instead.  So we do try to make lunch a bit more enjoyable with some add on items like fresh fruit, fresh cut up vegetables, yogurt, snack foods ( peanuts, corn nuts and pumpkin seeds) and some small treat like a cookie or a pudding.  The trick with the add on items is to keep them to a reasonable amount of prepackaged items.  I usually try to keep mine to one prepackaged item per lunch.  A pudding cup at $0.25 may sound cheap until you realize how much stuff you can buy at the bulk bins or fruit for that much money or that it would be five or more homemade cookies.

This also leans me to another key item in eating cheap:  portion size.  When you do cook make sure to make lots of food so you have leftovers, but at the same time keep the portion size on your plate small for meats and main courses (feel free to load up on the fruit and vegetables since they are cheap).  Or with your lunch keep the amount of add on items small.  For example, I typically only take about 1/4 cup of snack foods.  I usually only eat it as a mid morning snack so I really don’t need anything large otherwise I won’t want to eat my lunch.  Also take your time eating.  Have lots of conversations while eating.  Eating in my house has always been a social event.  We eat together and often entertain with people coming over for a meal.  You might be surprised on how small of a portion you really need if you give the food some time to actually hit your stomach.

2 thoughts on “Eating for Pennies – Part III – Lunch”

  1. Dear R@45,

    Have you ever thought of going vegan? My family and I are vegan (2 kids, husband and I) and you can save LOTS of money by not buying dairy, meat, chicken, fish, etc. You are also helping the environment, lowering your cholesterol which is driven up by eating animal products, and lowering your cancer/other diseases risk by not eating processed, expensive foods. Since we went vegan (3 years ago) we have saved lots of money on food. Big culprits in your food bill:
    dairy (cheese and yogurt, milk), any kind of meat or processed lunch slices, chicken (breasts used to be $23 for a bag of no name)…I could go on. I bought a “milk” maker (called a Soyquick, a Canadian product) and I make my own almond milk, oat milk, soy milk for 5 to 10 cents a gallon. It cost a hundred bucks and paid for itself in about a month, because milk where I live is $5 for 2 liters, dairy or non dairy.
    That’s just a bit of what we do. As for how much we’ve saved on food, I don’t know exact numbers. We also don’t eat out except for maybe 2-3 times a month, all at cheaper, healthy places. And when we do eat out we aren’t ordering sirloin so our bill is minimal. I only read a few of your entries. Do you dabble in real estate investment? What are your thoughts on the current real estate market in Canada? Are we going down or is a longer term (5-20 year investment) a good idea, with rental income to pay the mortgage?

  2. Trena,

    No I haven’t considered going vegan. I like my meat once in a while. So I tend to keep it more as a side dish than the main dish. I agree vegan eating could save a lot of money. Meat and cheese are budget killers for a lot of people.

    I don’t dabble in investment properties directly. I instead have an investment that is partly made up of some real estate income trusts. I like getting the cheque, but I dislike having to deal with renters.

    Real estate in Canada has peaked in most places and on the slide down. Are we at the bottom yet? Perhaps not, it would depend on each area some what. If you can manage a positive cash flow on a rental property it might be worth doing it for the long haul. If you can’t I won’t worry about it and find another deal in the current mess on the markets. There are some deals to be had if you can get past the hype and be realistic about things.


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