When we don’t have a meal plan, food costs more.
Our regular plan is to build a menu for the week and go to the grocery store on Sunday. This allows planning, instead of scrambling for a a meal after work each night. It also give us a chance to plan for leftovers so we have something to eat for lunch at work.
We work until about 5 every weekday. When we don’t have the meal planned, it’s usually chicken nuggets or hamburger helper for dinner. Not only is that repetitive, but it’s not terribly healthy. It is, however, convenient. If we plan for it, we can get the ingredients ready the night before and know what we are doing when we get home, instead of trying to think about it after a long day of work.
If we don’t plan for leftovers, we tend to make the right amount of food for the family. When this happens, there’s nothing to bring to work the next day, which means I’ll be hungry about lunchtime with nothing I can do about it except buy something. Buying lunch is never cheaper than making it. I can get a sandwich at Subway for $5, but I could make a sandwich just as tasty and filling for less than half of that, using money that is meant to be used for food. All during wrestling season, we make 30-inch sandwiches on meet nights for a cost of about $5, feeding ourselves and at least a couple of others who didn’t have time to make their dinner before the 5:30 meet.
No leftovers also means no Free Soup, which is a wonderful low-maintenance meal that leaves everybody full. Nobody ever gets bored of Free Soup. (Hint: Don’t ever put a piece of fish in the Free Soup, or the flavor will take over the entire meal.)
Unhealthy, repetitive food for dinner. Over-priced, low-to-middle-quality food for lunch.
We plan our meals right and have inexpensive, healthy food that doesn’t get boring for every meal.
It seems to be a no-brainer. Except, I don’t have lunch today because we didn’t plan our meals and used the last of the leftover hamburger helper for dinner last night.
Update: This post has been included in the Carnival of Personal Finance.