Why I Probably Won’t Ever Pack a Lunch

Here’s why I won’t start packing a lunch any time soon (except if I have leftovers that is). This article on lifehacker.com: “Save $988 per year by packing your lunch.” $1000 saved by packing a lunch!? That’s a lot lower than I thought. If you’re making $50,000 gross that’s only 2% of gross income. Make $100,000 and that’s 1%. That seems pretty insignificant to me. I used to think about bringing a lunch to save money but I’m not so sure anymore. There are some big advantages to going out for lunch with coworkers: Networking, talking about work-related ideas but outside of work, and socializing, and if the difference is only $1000 per year I don’t have any huge motivation to change. You also have to factor in the extra time spent preparing decent-tasting lunches and extra grocery shopping. As far as efficiency goes, leftovers are a smarter idea because you just have a cook a bit more than usual the night before which doesn’t take any more time.

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12 Responses to “Why I Probably Won’t Ever Pack a Lunch”


  • I think comparing to net income is more relevant but the point is still made.

    I get tired of eating out so I like to bring lunch maybe 3 days a week and then go out for 2 days. Nothing to do with money really, that’s just the way I like to do it.

  • It’s not like it’s an all-or-nothing decision whether to buy a lunch or pack a lunch. I buy a lunch about one day per week, which equates to about 40 lunches per year, at around $7 each ($280/year). If I ate out daily, and went to more expensive restaurants, it would be quite easy for that “lunch money” to blossom into huge dollars.

    When I was in high school I estimate that I spent over $1500 a year on eating out — and it didn’t feel like I was spending much money at all. At the end of the year I realized that it was 25% of my gross income for the entire year! Little amounts really do add up.

  • The $1K is after-tax money; think about how much you need to make to get that $1K. If you are in the highest tax bracket in Ontario, that is almost $1.5K. Sure, it is still small potatoes – but, hey, there are plenty of other things I can do with that money.

    Of course, there are other benefits of packing your lunch. You actually know what you are eating. This is getting more important as I get older…and more concerned about health issues.

  • Agreed, using net income is probably better, but I just wanted to get a ballpark percentage of income. I was just surprised that it was only $1000 in the end. I thought it would be more. I was motivated (solely for financial reasons) to bring a lunch to work…but now I’m less motivated.

  • I just looked at the clever dudettes menu…perfect for a 90lb female maybe.

    I’m sure it costs $2-3 for my packed lunch and since my takeout lunches average $5 – I’m not really saving much. Plus the social aspect of the packed lunch is somewhat lacking.

  • When I go out for lunch with colleagues we spend between $6-$12 each unfortunately. Not sure how much packed lunches would be for me.

  • Well, if you know you spend between $6-$12, you can calculate how much your lunches out cost. Assuming you get 2 weeks of holidays a year (where you eat at home… yeah, right)and that you don’t eat out for lunch on weekends, it’s an easy calculation:

    $X * 5 days a week * 50 weeks per year

    So in your case, you’re spending between $1500 and $3000 a year, not just $988. And that’s just on lunch.

    Why let someone else’s numbers demotivate you?

  • Umm, right. I guess I forgot to take into account the cost of packing your lunch (duh!). Wow, I am tired today! But in my case, there really isn’t any networking happening, so I might as well eat my leftovers and avoid going out in the -35 weather we’ve been having in Whitehorse these days…

  • Fawn, good point. When I read your first comment there, I also kind of forgot about the cost of packing a lunch…

  • I eat out mainly because of the convience, but I agree with Dave, once you run the numbers you are not saving a significant amount. 2nd, I think it is hard to cook for one or two people.

    If you have a family, it may be more worth packing a lunch.

  • Don’t forget to double your calculations if you are a couple and more if you have kids. That said, I do enjoy lunching out with friends, colleagues and former co-workers every once in a while. Lunch at our workplace costs a lot less than $6 because of employer subsidies. Either way, it is a personal choice and if your financial goals are met, why not lunch out?

  • Couldn’t agree more CC.

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