How to Eat Smart on Business Trips

by AJ Pettersen · 6 comments

Business lunch

Finding creative ways to eat out is important in my line of work. During baseball season, we’re on the road 50% of the time. During these periods, we’re given a certain amount of money per day to spend on food (more commonly known as a per diem). Many people travel for work on a regular basis, so finding ways to save money and eat right is important.

Here’s what I keep in mind when deciding when and where to eat:

Make It Last

Though we’re given a set amount of money per day for food, nearly half of it goes to the opposing clubhouse manager. He gives us food at the field, does our laundry, and makes sure we’re comfortable. He feeds us before and after the game, and provides snacks in between. After we pay him and tip him, we have about $10 per day for breakfast and lunch. While this doesn’t seem like much, minor league players can make do with just about anything.

There are a few ways to make your per diem last. Getting up for the hotel’s continental breakfast is vital. If I skip the free breakfast, I’m forced to buy my own and lose money on the day.

Find Something Healthy

With my $10 set aside for lunch each day, I need to find something of substance to eat. This usually means an in-between restaurant. Fast food won’t fuel me correctly for that night’s game, while nicer restaurants often cost $20 or more per meal. This leaves me with few restaurant options.

On my most recent trip, I ate at Pei Wei for a couple of days. It has freshly cooked meals that come fairly quickly for around $10 — everything I was looking for. Usually this search takes a little time, but on this trip, the perfect place was right around the corner.

Take Advantage of Leftovers

A refrigerator and a microwave in the hotel room make a huge difference. Make sure that you try to get these amenities. When I have access to these, it totally changes my eating plans. Saving food from continental breakfast and getting leftovers is also a good idea, as it’ll save time and money.

I sometimes will take food home from the field as well, which allows me to have a snack when necessary. If you’re traveling on business, you may be able to do the same at meetings and/or conferences.

Why It Matters

How you fuel your body is important to how you perform. Whether it’s on the field or in an office, you need to have the right nutrients to do your job correctly. Staying on a budget is always important for your financial health. Following these tips should keep you under budget and properly fueled.

How do you approach eating while traveling on business?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

John S @ Frugal Rules May 22, 2013 at 6:37 am

Great tips! We try to be as healthy as possible while also not spending a lot of money too. We try to balance this as well with being frugal with our spending as we can only write off 50% of the spending as we run our own business.

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Mark May 22, 2013 at 8:01 am

Interesting post. Eating a healthy meal before going to the office or participating in business meetings is really essential for you to perform well on those activities. And eating a nutritious yet cheap meal is a great way to make your self and finance happy and healthy.

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zimmy@moneyandpotatoes.com May 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm

My wife and I really need to start finding healthier options when eating out. We always seem to end up at our favorite cafe in town and they do not have a healthy option on the menu. I am now past 40 and should start watching what I eat more often.

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Property Marbella May 24, 2013 at 2:48 am

Eating cheaply and the right food is important, I try to find cafe and restaurants as construction workers and truck drivers go to. Good and cheap food.

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Fred May 28, 2013 at 8:17 am

If you are in a large city, go to a Whole Foods grocery store and eat at their deli. The have one of the most complete deli’s I’ve seen—at least here in Minneapolis. Several hot entrees, desserts, etc. All the food is either organic, whole and/or natural. I eat lunch their often for around $10.

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Ralph Ware June 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Don’t be too much of a penny pincher when it comes to the cost of a hotel. You don’t have to spend a fortune for decent accommodations that include a hot breakfast bar with protein and fresh fruit on the menu. If the breakfast keeps you satisfied until lunch time, how much is that worth?
The mini-fridge and the microwave are essential. Most grocery stores have a deli and / or a prepared foods section. When I hit town, that’s one of the first places I go. Since I enjoy an adult beverage before supper, I can get what I want at the grocery store for a whole lot less than in a restaurant or a lounge.

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