Can You Save Money By Bringing Lunch To Work?

Today’s question: can you save money by bringing lunch to work?

Recently I’ve read an interesting article, stating that Americans spend around $2,000 a year on lunches. That includes the lunch they buy at their employer and eating out every once in a while. That’s a lot of money!

We talk a lot about being aware of what you spend and being sure it’s something you want to spend your money on. If you’re not watching your spending carefully, it can add up and lead to decreased savings or increased debt.

Watching the small expenses is crucial because the $5 sandwich at work won’t make you think it’s a big deal, but it actually adds up to $2,000 per year. Making lunch will also cost you money, although significantly less. Besides that, it’s better for your health down the line to bring your own lunch. 

When you’re bringing your own lunch to work, the savings can add up. Let’s say you’re able to save $100 monthly by bringing your lunch to work, that adds up year after year. In one year, you’ll be able to save $1,200 from just preparing lunch at home!

Saving money should be fun, of course, so I’m not saying that you have to bring your lunch 100% of the time. At times it might be great to eat at a tasty restaurant, just not every day. 

Know that you can tap into the power of small changes when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Meaning that you don’t need to prepare you lunch for five days straight, but start with preparing it for one day and go from there!

Let’s dive into the post! Can you save money by bringing lunch to work?

Socialize With Colleagues

You might think that if everyone goes out to eat, you need to join them. It really depends on company culture and your personal preference. At the company I work at now, people rarely go out to eat outside the office. Yes, they buy lunch at our employer and still spend $8-10 daily, but there is no social aspect of going out to eat.

I lunch every day with most of my colleagues, so I would argue that going out to eat lunch in this setting would actually enable me to socialize less with my colleagues.  

My previous colleagues went outside to eat regularly, I hardly ever joined. I still have lasting relationships with them and talk to them regularly. That means the argument of you’ll sacrifice your relationships when you don’t join going out to eat isn’t true for everyone. 

Like said before, you can still go out when you feel like it. If you feel that you’re missing out when you’re not joining your colleagues for lunch, you can go occasionally. 

[Related Read: How To Spend Less Than $70 Per Month On Groceries]

Staying In For Lunch Saves Time

Many people think that going out to eat saves them time since they’re not making their own food. I don’t agree. 

When you’re going out for lunch, it takes much much longer than preparing your food. You spend time driving to the spot where you’ll have lunch, you spend time waiting for your food to be prepared, you spend time paying your bill, and you have to go back to the office after you’ve finished. 

It’ll take you much more time than simply preparing your lunch at home. 

Honestly, I don’t spend much time at all making lunch every day. You can save a lot of time by making more dinner the previous night and taking leftovers, that way you’re sure you have enough. You can also meal prep on Sunday, preparing a whole week worth of lunches to bring. When you’re short on time and want to keep it simple, you can pack a sandwich with some fruit. 

Spend Lunch Time Hustling 

I always bring my lunch to work, so that if no one wants to go and have lunch, I can spend time hustling at my desk. I know people who do this every lunch break, meaning they spend an additional 3-5 hours on their side job. Making extra money gets easy that way!

You can work on your blog, spend time selling things online, and much more!

Uplevel Your Health

Going out to eat lunch or eating lunch at your employers’ facilities leads to us making unhealthier choices. If you’re going out to eat, the cheapest food is most often the unhealthiest – unfortunately. If you’re going for fast food, you will often spend less than when you’re ordering a salad. Even when you’re eating in, a fried snack is often cheaper than the salad bar or the hot meal. 

Eliminating that choice between cheap and healthy can be simply by bringing your own lunch to work. You’re going to eat what you have anyways, meaning that you don’t have to decide at that moment what you want to eat. 

I’m all about eliminating choices, which will prevent you from experiencing decision fatigue. Every decision is taking away from your decision power in a day. Irrelevant if it’s an important decision at work or what do I want to eat for lunch – it’s taking away from your decision power. That’s also why successful people wear the same clothes every day!

You’re Wasting Less Food

When you’re bringing your own lunch, you’re wasting less food. There is a ton of food that gets wasted every day, just make sure you’re not contributing to that!

If you’re bringing your own lunch, you can pack the foods that would otherwise go bad and eat them while they’re still tasty. 

You can save a lot of money by preparing your own lunch. Since your savings rate is more important than you rate of return early in your financial independence journey, I’d say go for it!

If you want to read more about saving money, go read this 25+ incredible easy money saving tips that I wrote down for you.

What do you think? Can you save money by bringing lunch to work?

4 thoughts on “Can You Save Money By Bringing Lunch To Work?”

  1. This is an interesting topic. My lunch at work costs me 6.6 Euros, but I still pay it. Sometimes I think that I should start to prepare my own meals for work to reduce my costs. But then I think that it would save me maybe 3 euros per day, since I eat so much and it’s not even that cheap (or convinient) to prepare it on my own.

    So, it depends. With my eating habits, I am satisfied with the lunch at work which is really good! But yeah, if it would be 8,9 or 10 Euros, I would maybe prepare my own lunch.

    • It depends on your personal situation for sure – if you can eat your warm meal at work and can eat something simple and quick at home at night, that might be a good solution. If you’re looking to reduce monthly costs, it can still save some money. If you’re saving 3.6€ daily, assuming 25 working days in a month, you’re saving €90 per month by bringing lunch.

      In any case, if you’re having a good lunch at work – enjoy, that’s a rare situation to be in!

  2. I think that initially I took this to an extreme and never bought lunch, but now I do go out with colleagues occasionally, usually once a month. It’s often something simple like a sandwich, so not super-expensive. It is quite amazing how much the little things add up. I am re-reading the Latte Factor by David Bach for a review post for my blog and in that he shows how much compound interest would give you over the years on money you would have spent on buying a coffee every morning. I want to shout it from the rooftops when I see people buying lunch every day, but I don’t say anything and just open my lunch box.

    • Thanks for your comment Sam! I’m looking forward to reading your review post on the Latte Factor, that’d be an interesting read. The compound interest is real. I also have colleagues who spend $8-10 every day to get lunch and they’re also the types that are talking about their newest car – while I’m working in Finance it seems that managing their personal finance very different.
      Lol just opening your lunchbox in front of them and eat your way to compound interest!


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