To Save Big, Nix the Lunch Breaks with Co-Workers

how much money do you save by packing your lunch
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How much money do you save by packing your lunch every day? Turns out, a lot. Here’s the breakdown.

The Scenario

You probably know the scenario. The office clock says noon and the guys and gals decide where to go for lunch. In many towns, the drive time to a restaurant eats up most of the lunch hour, not to mention the gas.

It’s hard to find lunch for less than ten bucks, then add in the tip. You gobble down your food, share a few laughs with your co-workers, and rush back to the office wishing you had time for a nap.

As you walk to your desk, you notice this guy putting away his brown bag. He appears calm, happy, and ready to get back to work — some of which he did while eating his lunch…

Okay, wait. There IS something wrong with the co-worker scenario. We need to be social, we SHOULD take a break during the workday. So you shouldn’t sacrifice your mental and emotional well being by bringing lunch and working during your break time. But there IS some savings to be had by brown-bagging it.

How Much Money Do You Save Packing Your Lunch?

Is it worth it to prepare and bring your lunch to work each day? Well, looking at some basic examples let’s say the cost to fix your own lunch costs about $3 a day. It’s probably much cheaper.

That’s $15 for a five day week. Eating out at approximately $10 a day comes to $50 for the week. You saved at least $35 not including drive time and gas. That’s more than $1,800 a year saved. Interested?

Here are some brown bag tips. Prepare it the night before so you’re not rushed in the morning. Keep it simple but be creative and think healthy. Sandwiches on wholesome bread are fine but include nuts, fruit or yogurt. Also, put in a little treat for yourself that you can look forward to, perhaps a health bar or your favorite cookie.

Plan ahead and buy in bulk with lunches in mind. Buy large chips and put them in smaller plastic bags instead of buying small individual bags. Don’t pay more for convenience.

Cook a big dinner and save some for lunch the next day or the entire week. If it’s home-cooked you know it’s good, healthy, and cleaner. Put it in individual containers that night so you can grab and go in the morning.

If you’re running late there’s nothing wrong with occasionally taking a can of soup or vegetable chili. Most offices have ovens or microwaves you can use for heating.

Bring your drink too. You can get a 12-pack of soda for around $2.99 and that comes to about 25 cents a can. Compare that with expensive vending machine drinks or coffee and you’ve saved even more.

It’s up to you of course, but you can continue to work while you eat, catch up on your emails or other relaxing reading. It just might impress the boss and if you have to take off early, you don’t feel as guilty. Don’t be surprised if others ask you for tips on brown bagging.

There’s a lot to be said for brown-bagging your lunch. You eat better, save time and money, and you’re more productive. Now all you have to do is figure out where to invest all that money you saved.

Check out some more great money-saving tips.