|Hipster baon: Noodles in a jar!|
One of my bigger expense categories is food, especially food eaten while at work. Usually, wherever there are students, there would be cheap food. Sure, this would be loaded with carbs and fats, but would assure you of energy throughout the day. (Bacsilog with melted cheese topping, anyone?) However, just a few tries of these cheap meals convinced me that (1) my body is not young enough to process all that bad juju and (2) the calories will keep you young, as in deds agad. So, no.
Now where I work, it’s always cheap eats. There are restaurants all around, but if you eat in one everyday, and most of the time, it’s not just lunch, sometimes dinner, usually merienda, and coffee,definitely. The go-to eating place has a stall that sells “healthy” food, and it would cost you Php165. So, no.
There is an employee canteen, but usually the food there runs out or spoken for by 11AM. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to drop by and “save” your Ulam for lunch, good luck to you. You run to the other canteen where vegetables + rice will run you maybe Php55-70, and a meat viand + rice is Php90-115. Also not viable.
The tipid alternative would be to bring your own lunch. The trouble is if your workday starts at 7:30AM, which means you have to be up and going by 5:30AM, and if it ends also at 7:30PM, which means you get home past 9AM. By then, you have almost no energy to cook, and you’ll be so tempted to just eat out before you crash on your bed at home.
During this weird 12 hour working period, I almost always ended up eating out at least twice a day. When I tallied it, I was spending nearly 8k/month on food. If you’re single, that’s a big amount and all it takes is having regularly having sub-200 lunches and brewed coffee.
It takes control to prepare your meals, but something necessary if you want to not spend all your paycheck on carbs and coffee. I don’t always succeed on this, but I do try most of the time—heck, even once a week—to bring food with me. I’ve also learned to check out the nearby grocery and sometimes stock on instant coffee (just coffee, not 3-in-1 because the sugar in those are deadly) and crackers and sometimes fruit and oatmeal for quick in between meals.
Sometimes, like when people at the office are excited to see actual people (we don’t always have the same work/lunch schedule), we do eat out. Usually this would be around the start of the term, or somewhere near the end just before finals. One time, we just went for coffee and pastries, and it cost me Php280. Or dinner from the Japanese takeout—Php350. Sometimes I don’t mind it especially if it’s just an occasional thing. It’s celebratory and builds camaraderie, so I’m down for that. But if you do it regularly, I don’t know if I’ll have anything else left over. So basically, everything in moderation.
There's only a month or so left in the work cycle, and when the homestretch comes, sometimes you don't have the energy to meal prep anymore. But I resolve to do more meal preps in future workdays. So do wish me luck.