A chicken fast food lunch meal.

Save $2000 A Year With A Brown Bag

Taking your lunch to work might not be the most appealing concept, but it sure is a great way to save money. If you are buying lunch every day, you are cheating yourself out of thousands of dollars in savings every year. Have a look at just how much money you can save from brown bagging it and how it can have a dramatic effect on your retirement savings.

The High Cost Of Lunch

You might be surprised at just how much money you are throwing down in the drive thru. A fast food meal seems like such an innocent expense until we add up the cost of all of the meals over time. Lets take a look at all of the costs that come with buying your lunch every day.

Monetary Cost

First, you have the obvious monetary cost. Dining out is expensive and has only gotten more expensive over the last year. With supply chain issues and shortages, the cost of the average meal has skyrocketed. If you eat fast food every day, you are probably spending $10 a day on your meal. If you treat yourself to a table service restaurant, that price is closer to $15 a meal.

So, the average fast food diner is spending $50 a week and the average restaurant lunch diner is shelling out closer to $75. Compare that to the cost of bringing your lunch to work, roughly $10 a week, and you can see the potential for some fairly large savings.

If you are not bringing your lunch, you are wasting anywhere from $40 to $65 a week, depending on how you like to eat. Over the average 50 week work year, that is 2000 dollars to well over 3000 dollars. Money that could do wonders in your savings or investment accounts.

Time Cost

There is more to it than just money though. Have you thought about the time savings that you would see from bringing your lunch? If you have one hour for lunch, like most people, you are using every minute of it when you dine out. Roughly 30 minutes traveling back and forth to a restaurant, 15 minutes ordering and waiting for your food and then 15 minutes actually eating.

Compare that to the time that you would spend on eating if you brought your lunch. There is no travel, no ordering and no waiting, you can just get right down to eating. You can eat your lunch in around 15 minutes and then have 45 minutes to do with as you please. Take a nap, do some shopping, catch up on social media or get right back to work so that you can be more productive.

Your time is important and wasting 45 minutes of that time every day is nothing to ignore. Over the course of a week, this is nearly 4 hours of time, time that can be put to better use.

Save Big With A Brown Bag

Now that you can see how wasteful it is to buy your lunch every day, let’s look into making some changes to get you saving money right now.

All that you need is a lunch box and a plan. At the beginning of the week, plan out your lunch menu and then buy everything that you need. You need to be prepared so that making your lunch is easy. If it is not, you will simply fall back into buying your meals again.

Keep It Fresh

The key to being happy with bringing your lunch is to be creative. Bologna  and peanut butter sandwiches will get old very quickly.

If you want to go the sandwich route, mix it up. The easiest way to do this is to play with the toppings and bread. The only thing that really separates a restaurant quality sandwich from a home made one is the toppings and the bread used. Use different cheeses, play with your veggies and buy some surprisingly inexpensive artisan breads. Wonder Bread is not your friend if you want to keep a healthy appetite for your lunches.

Also, try to go beyond the sandwich so that you do not get bored. Think about salads, pastas, wraps, rice dishes, etc. There are literally hundreds of different meals that you can prep in advance for work.

Finally, take advantage of your dinner leftovers. They can make your lunch easier and much more interesting. A leftover burger can become a beef taco or that chicken breast can be the base of a Chicken Caesar salad. Repurposing these foods can make your lunch more fun and help you save even more money.

Look At The Long Term Savings

Still not convinced that it is a good idea to take your lunch to work? Is 3000 dollars a year not enough in savings to make the switch? Take a look at what you can expect to save over the long run, if you stick with it.

Take the 3000 dollars that you are saving and put it into an investment account earning a modest 5 percent growth. This is very attainable amount of growth, and you may be able to do better. In ten years, you will have nearly 40,000 dollars sitting in your investment account. Not bad, but it gets much better. In twenty years this amount goes up to 100,000 dollars and in thirty years, you would have a whopping 200,000 dollars. That is the power of compound interest and saving money over time.

Obviously, there is something to be said for taking your lunch to work. Nearly a quarter of a million dollars in your investment account from simply taking a brown bag to work. How can you deny the financial benefit?

What about the other benefits though.

Time Savings

Without the travel and waiting on your lunch orders, you can save nearly 4 hours a week. Over the average work year, that is roughly 200 hours of time savings. Just imagine what you could get accomplished in your professional life with an extra 200 hours.

Health Savings

We all know that fast food is not healthy and table service restaurant food is not much better. These meals are loaded with what tastes good, fat. A high fat diet is not your friend and it will eventually catch up with you.

You also need to consider the calories that you are getting from a restaurant or fast food meal. The average fast food meal comes in at over 1000 calories and a healthy diet for the average American is just 2000 calories. That means that one meal could be over half of your allotted calories. If you are taking in over half of your daily calories in just one meal, it will be nearly impossible to maintain a healthy weight.

Taking your lunch to work solves this problem, allowing you to bring a healthy and calorie appropriate lunch.

Posted by
James Car

James Car is a finance, loan and budget expert based in the United States. After attending Brookhaven college, he went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He now enjoys writing articles that help people save and make the most of their money.