Dec 02

For as long as I can remember I’d spend no less than $10 a day for lunch. I justified the expense as a break from the office and would eat out daily without fail. I absolutely never took my lunch from home. This was my practice for more than a decade of my working life.

Those days are gone.

At $50 a week that quickly adds up:

$50 week x 4 weeks = $200 month x12 months – give or take a two-week vacay, a few PTOs here and there, the occasional non-Dutch outing, office lunch and forgot your money fasts—and that’s $2,400 a year.

Did I really eat $24,000 worth of lunches over 10 years? You better believe I did! Earlier this year I lost 50 pounds of the evidence. Let’s just say I gave new meaning to “penny wise pound foolish”.

Okay, so who isn’t more money conscious these days? If so,  a surefire place to save money is your food costs.

If you haven’t time for couponing or following weekly sales, take a trip to the Dollar Tree. In addition to non perishables, many of these stores also have a well-stocked refrigerated section.  Like any store, the better the neighborhood, the better the selection.

For just $10 you can buy ingredients for healthy meals and snacks that will last you all week long.

With some advance meal planning, including planned “overs,”—change your mindset people. “leftovers”  is analog thinking; get digital! Plan to cook more than you’ll eat for at least three of the meals you prepare and you save not only money, but time too!

Do so and you’ll  save money, time and probably lose a few inches along the way.
Add a trip to your local farmer’s market for fresh produce and you’re in for low cost meals that are friendly to your wallet and your waist.

Here’s a sample of planned menus for the week using items bought at Dollar Tree.

Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner
Monday Toasted thin sliced bagel with strawberry jam

Boiled egg

Egg salad sandwich Apple with string cheese Great northern beans


Cornbread muffin

(Planned overs meal)

Tuesday Strawberry banana smoothie Great northern beans with cornbread muffin Apple

Boiled egg


Hamburger helper

Green Beans

(Planned overs meal)

Wednesday Oatmeal Hamburger helper Green beans Banana with

Peanut Butter

Macaroni and cheese

Kielbasa links


Garlic bread

(Planned overs meal)

Thursday Cereal with soymilk Great northern bean soup Crackers with string cheese Spaghetti and meat sauce, salad

(planned overs meal)

Friday Toasted thin sliced bagel, turkey bacon, egg sandwich Pasta salad


Applesauce with string cheese Personal Pizza
Saturday Oatmeal Hot dog

Sweet potato fries



Baked chicken breast

Green beans

Rice or Pasta

Sunday Oatmeal

Boiled egg

Spaghetti and meat sauce, salad Peanut butter cookies with Soymilk Baked barbecued chicken breast


Lettuce and tomato salad with balsamic vinagrette


Recommended Items

Bread-Most have a large selection of day old bread, bagels and sandwich rounds that sell for $3 and up Dried  Beans (red beans, pinto, great northern)
Eggs Tuna
Soymilk Peanut Butter
Macaroni Shredded Cheese/String Cheese
Flour Oatmeal
Frozen Strawberries Brown Sugar
Apple Sauce Canned fruit
Spaghetti Sauce Frozen chicken breast
Macaroni, Spaghetti Hotdogs
Jam Kielbasa sausage


Stock up on other Dollar Store items and save

Spices Add your own list here:
Laundry Detergent
Household cleansers
Beauty and first aid
Vitamin supplements
Pet food and supplies
Insulated cup- save on bottled water
Foil, plastic wrap, sandwich bags
Buy seeds and plant your own patio garden
Stationery and office items


Top 5 Must Have Farmer’s Market Items


5 tennis ball size

Bananas Tomatoes
Romaine lettuce Cabbage Onions


See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.
  • I’m a big fan of brown bagging it. Not only are you saving loads of cash, you can multitask. Every day for lunch I catch up on some T.V. shows I missed the night before. The food is cheaper and you save on gas.