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Eating at the Ball Field, Save Money By Packing Food
With baseball season in full swing we end up eating at the ball field a lot. It is strange, but I never see anyone else eating a picnic there. Oh, they might show up with fast food but that is the extent of it. Week night games tend to go through the dinner hour and Saturday games usually through the lunch hour. Yet I am the only parent that brings food from home.
Personally I don't want to eat dinner at 4:30 (before we leave for the games) or at 8:00 when we finally walk in the door. When you are dealing with children, not eating before hand typically means crabby kids, but they aren't real hungry at 4:30 either. There are other options though. Rather than eating fast food (unhealthy and expensive) or snacking your way through the game (again typically unhealthy and not very filling) bring a dinner from home.
Before the season started I spent a little extra at Sams Club and the grocery store and stocked up on individual packages of chips (something we rarely buy) and plenty of bread and lunch meat. Yes these things are more expensive than what I normally feed my family, but they get tired pretty quickly of PB&J, although once a week is OK.
I will give you an example of our dinner tonight, with the cost break down. We had ham ($3) sandwiches with pepper jack cheese ($1.25), onions ($.25) and condiments ($.25). We used a half a loaf of bread ($.50). For six people our sandwiches cost $5.25. I sliced up a cucumber ($.79) and brought a pint of grape tomatoes ($2). I forgot the chips, but no one asked for them and everyone seemed satisfied when they were done eating. I did bring Capri Suns for the kids ($.40), but normally I just bring refillable water bottles. The total cost of our dinner tonight was $8.44. That is pretty good for six people and it was much healthier and cheaper than fast food. Had I brought the chips ($.42 a pack) it would have brought my total up to $10.96, but it wouldn't have been as healthy.
I know everyone has thought of bringing sandwiches to the ball park, but honestly, many people don't feel they have the time to pack a meal. I almost didn't either today, because I walked in the door at 3:30 and I had to leave by 3:50 today. But I did it and I am glad I did, because I didn't have hungry kids and I saved myself about $20 for 20 minutes of my time. That is an hourly rate of return of $60. Do you still think it isn't worth the bother to pack a dinner?
Another day I fried up some chicken tenderloins, sliced a loaf of homemade bread, and peeled and sliced a cucumber and a few carrots. The total cost to me that night was $4 for the chicken, about $.50 for the bread, $.99 for the cucumber and $.25 for the carrots. Total for dinner was $5.74. It did take more time and planning, but it felt more filling than sandwiches. Another day I brought hard boiled eggs ($1), bread ($.50) and cheese ($.75), carrot sticks ($.25) and cookies ($.50). Again, it was very inexpensive ($3), healthy and filling.
There are plenty of picnic options out there; these are just a few of my ideas. By breaking down the cost of the meals we have eaten on the go I hope you realize how worthwhile it is to plan ahead and pack food with you. Even if you spend more on some convenience type items (Capri Suns for instance) it is still cheaper than eating out. And to not have to worry about putting dinner on the table when in reality it is after bedtime for the little kids is priceless.