Bring Your Lunch to Work

by Justin Weinger on September 22, 2006

Over the course of a year, it’s amazing how much money people spend on eating out, and one of the places you’re most likely to spend a bunch of money is on lunch at work.

That’s why you should bring your lunch to work, and save a lot of money.

If you go to a fast food restaurant to get lunch, chances are you’re going to spend between $6 and $10 a day, which over the course of a year adds up to between $1,500 and $2,500 per year.  If you go some place a little more upscale, you can expect to pay $12 to $20 per day, which adds up to $3,000 to $5,000 per year.

Now, let’s see how much it’ll cost for you to bring your lunch instead:

  • Sandwich = Less than $1.50, including bread, lunch meat, etc.
  • Banana = Less than $.25
  • Apple = Less than $.35
  • Soda = Less than $.25
  • Peanut butter crackers = Less than $.35

Well, I guess you now know what I eat for lunch!

Anyway, this lunch, which does a good job of holding me over, cost less than $3 to make.  Over the course of a year, that’s a cost of $750, which could save you over $4,000 per year!

As an added bonus, you don’t have to waste time driving back and forth between the office and where you get the food.  Plus, you’re probably going to end up eating healthier if you bring your own food as opposed to going out.

While it may be true that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t get a cheap lunch!



brian.carr September 24, 2006 at 6:19 pm

I’m glad you found my site and thank you for the kind note!

KA September 30, 2007 at 10:26 pm

Excellent advice, but I severely question the $1.50 calculation on any sandwich other than PB&J. I don’t know what you consider “meat,” but healthy cold cuts (low salt, non-cured) at any of the supermarkets in my area cost about $8 per pound. Even the minimum 1/4 lb. per sandwich is $2.00 without bread (and healthy bread costs about $4.79 for 24 slices or $.20 per slice). So, even before veggies or spread, turkey and bread alone will cost $2.40. So, I’m not countering the basic argument at all, but if you’re in this for the long term, it’s important to understand how much you’re really saving.

KA September 30, 2007 at 10:30 pm

And the fruit prices are also low. My calculation is that brown bagging costs about $4.00 a day. For $6.00 a day I can get lunch at my work cafeteria without having to spend any time at all making lunch. There were many times in my life when the $10 a week savings ($500 a year) was critical. But right now I work so much the time is more valuable (it’s not just the preparation time, but the shopping time and the remembering to bring stuff and remembering to bring your containers back home, etc.) Every time I decide to go for it and buy lunch food, it rots during the week while I buy lunch anyway and I end up paying double. So, again, I’m not arguing against it, but the key is CALCULATE accurately, remember time is money, ask yourself which you are more able to make “more” of, and make the right decision for you right now.

Dizzle August 14, 2008 at 10:08 am

First of all, soda is not a healthy drink and isn’t cost effective. Water can be refilled for free at home every day in a stainless steel thermos.

Second, an apple that costs less than 35 cents is one I would never eat. Up your budget on that item to 70 cents and you’ll get a satisfying organic apple that is free of pesticides.

Non-organic, or conventional, bananas are just fine, as they don’t carry as much pesticide residue on their skin as other fruits can.

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