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Years ago a co-worker told me he got out of debt simply by making his own lunches instead of going out to eat. I thought about the "brown bag" savings recently when I read a survey that showed male workers in the United States spend an average of $47 a week on lunch versus women who spend $27. According to Reuters, workers spend $2,000 a year on lunch. They cited a survey conducted by Accounting Principals that found half of young professionals ages 18 to 34 say they plan to save money this year by packing a lunch.
I know my husband spends about twice as much as I do on lunches. We tracked how much we spent eating out for lunch for one week. Then we made our own lunches for a week, which saved us $35.
On Monday, I spent $3.99 for a cup of broccoli soup with bread at Panera Bread. My husband spent $8.11 for tacos from Qdoba Mexican Grill. Between the two of us, we spent $12.10.
The following week, I made soft tacos at home, spending $9 at the grocery store on the ingredients. He took the tacos to work, heating them up in the microwave. We saved $3.10.
My husband spent $7.26 for a hamburger and fries from Five Guys. I spent $6.99 at the Village Inn. Between the two of us, we spent $14.25
The following week, I made homemade hamburgers and crinkle fries which we ate during a work-at-home day. I spent $8.50 on the ingredients, saving us $5.75.
I spent $7.39 for a soup and salad at Panera Bread. My husband spent $8.49 on chicken fingers at Applebee's for a total of $15.88.
The following week, we packed soup and salad that cost only $4 to make. We saved $11.88.
My husband spent $6.26 at Subway, purchasing a drink, chips, sandwich and cookie. I spent $3.99 again at Panera Bread for a total of $10.25.
The following week, we packed tuna sandwiches and soup at home for $6.50, saving $3.75.
My husband spent $8.50 on Chinese carryout and I spent $7.50 on Thai food for a total of $16.
The following week I made a homemade stir-fry, which cost $6 for the ingredients. The meal could be easily re-reheated at the office. We saved $10.
After totaling our lunch savings of $34.48, we didn't think it was worth it. In some cases I've found it costs us more to eat at home. We rather have the flexibility to grab lunch on the go during the workday. We prefer to save the home-cooked meals for the dinner hour.
- Finance/Banking & Budgeting
- Panera Bread