04/20/08 — The intersection of healthy & frugal

Before I made a commitment to bring my own food into work, no matter how nasty the work fridge is, I’d get 2, sometimes 3, meals a day @the office. I know it was a terrible habit, but I felt @the time that I just didn’t have the time to cook anything for myself. I found a good article on Mint’s money education blogs that has good responses for all the usual excuses for not bringing in your own food to work. Read the comments, too – they’re very helpful, not the usual “you’re a douchebag” type of comments.

One day a couple of years ago I just woke up and did that math. Meals out in DC are expensive and limited to just a few froo-froo, overpriced, lousy-service chains. Yes, I’m talking about you Panera and ChickenOut – why so much dressing on your damn salads anyway? Gross!

For meals out my old way, I estimated 5$ for breakfast and 10$ for lunch –  15$/day x 5 days = $75 x 48 weeks (to account for vacation/sick time) = $3600/year. That was about as much spent on meals out as I was spending on my car payment @the time. I’m not even including snacks.

Now I budget 2$/day for breakfast and 3$/day for lunch. I’m guessing that I’m saving around $50/week x 48 weeks = $2400 saved every year. It’s going into an account I have set up to pay cash for a new car eventually. I’m putting $4.20/gallon diesel in my VW lately so it may take a good while to save up enough.