Summer spells fun, spontaneity and freedom. For some, that’s a surefire way to empty your bank account on frivolous shopping extravaganzas, parties and weekend vacations.
But what’s life without a little well-deserved excitement? If you put away money for the good things by saving on the everyday — for example, food — you can feel freer to enjoy yourself without the guilt. Simply planning out and budgeting for breakfast and lunch can save you a ton.
Let’s take three typical summertime breakfasts and lunches and breakdown home versus retail costs: the breakfast sandwich, the smoothie and chopped salad.
A quality, large loaf of whole grain bread runs for about $3 to $4 and a dozen organic eggs cost about the same. A hard- or soft-boiled egg with a large slice of toast will give you at least 12 breakfasts. That’s less than 70 cents for breakfast at home versus your average $2.50 for an egg sandwich. Save even more by buying a loaf of dense sprouted grain bread and getting even more for your money.
How about smoothies? An average-size smoothie costs anywhere between $6 and even $12 at some locations in the city that make cold, pressed juices. The breakdown at home? Let’s do the math: one quart of skim milk at $3 gives you eight half-cup portions. Four bananas for $1 from your local street vendor also give you eight portions. In season, you can buy pints and half pints of berries for about $2 a pop. Take a pint of blueberries for $2 plus two half-pints of blackberries at $4. That’s four cups of berries total, which will give you 16 quarter-cup portions.
If you freeze the berries on a sheet tray, you’ll have them all summer and fall. To make a banana berry smoothie with a half-cup milk, half a banana and a quarter-cup of berries, you’ll be spending just under 90 cents for a basic smoothie. If you want to add protein powder, yogurt and/or nut butter, you’ve still got plenty of wiggle room given the retail costs.
How about lunch? Take a chopped salad from your average lunch spot. With some grilled chicken and a bunch of veggies, your looking at anywhere between $9 and $13.