Lunch: An Expensive Hobby

Around the middle of this decade I ended up working in the traditional and beating heart of the City of London, albeit, not in a financial services firm. The triangle of an area that is from Old Street, Moorgate and down to Liverpool street. It is absolutely rammed from Monday to Friday and dead at the weekend. In fact it’s so dead and empty that at the weekend all the cafes, eateries and other restaurants don’t even open, though luckily Bad Egg in Moorgate do stay open (seriously, they do amazing scrambled eggs on toast).

Eating in the city

During my first year working in this area I discovered, to my taste bud’s delight and to my bank accounts despair, the joy of the “EAT” and “Wasabi”. In the words of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. The ham and cheese baguette offered by EAT are, to my poorly developed taste bud’s, delicious. Combined with a mango and passionfruit smoothie, as well as a packet of crisps, and that was me until dinner. The cost of this each day was between £7-£8, depending on whether or not I got the packet of crisps (salt and vinegar, since you asked). You don’t need to be a genius to work out that over the course of a month my expenditure on lunch was around £120 and that over a year this was £1440. And when it’s put like that, over a grand for lunch is absolute madness.

The figure of £120 a month is probably on the minimum side too. Given that I would often head to Wasabi for a box of chicken and noodles, easily setting me back £7 without the drink or any additional food.

Now I’m not a particularly big coffee drinker and at the time my place of work provided it (black coffee, since you asked). If I had gotten this from, say, Starbucks though, this would have been another £2 – £3. Every day, for coffee in the morning. Black coffee is on the cheaper side too. Anything more than that, with the sprinkles, cream and whatever else is throw in and you’re getting well above the £3 mark. But for now, let’s just focus on the lunch cost.

Seriously

£120 a month to have, in retrospect, a particularly ordinary but fulfilling baguette and crisps just couldn’t be sustained. Things had to change.

In January 2017 and on the advice of my friend I decided to start making my own lunches and trust me they are, so, so much better than what any eatery currently offers (if I don’t say so myself). Twice a month, usually on a Saturday morning listening to BBC Radio 5 live, I cook in a huge pan for about two – three hours. A mixture of chicken, pork, peppers, onions and mushrooms. From this I’m usually able to make 10-15 wraps, one for each day in the office, to sustain me. The time and effort is most definitely worth it, these wraps are genuinely delicious.

“Ok M, how much does this cost you?”

So, I buy all of the above from Tesco and on average it’s about £25-£35 depending on the amount I buy and if I throw anything else in, such as chorizo. Let’s say I spend £35, with the maoirty of the cost of this being the chicken and pork and I’m able to make 15 wraps, simply, £3 a wrap. So whilst this more than a reasonable amount, given that I could just make ham and cheese sandwiches for £1, it’s the flavour and that the wraps actually fill me up, that makes it worthwhile.

As you’re hopefully noticing from this blog, we’re not saying don’t spend your money. The other day I was so hungry I ended up buying another wrap from somewhere close by costing another £5. What we are saying is that when you total everything up, as I did in early 2017, and realised I was spending £120 a month on lunch, I realised I could not only save money doing it myself, but also make better quality lunches.

A win for my taste buds and my bank account.

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