Skipping the packed lunch for the convenience of eating out is a temptation many of us give in to, myself included. On average, I found myself spending about $10 daily on fast food.
Curious about the potential savings, I decided to crunch some numbers and see just how much I could save by bringing my own lunch to work.
Armed with a shopping list, I headed to my local Walmart to break down the costs of my packed lunch consisting of a ham sandwich, a bag of chips, a pack of crackers, and a banana.
1. Ham Sandwich:
- Total for the sandwich: $0.20 (bread) + $0.35 (ham) + $0.30 (cheese) + $0.15 (extras) = $1.00
2. Bag of Chips:
- A large bag costs around $3.00 and might contain 8 servings, so about $0.38 per serving.
3. Pack of Crackers:
- A box costing $2.50 with 10 packs inside would be $0.25 per pack.
- A banana from Walmart is about $0.27 each.
Adding these up gives me the total cost for my lunch:
- Ham Sandwich: $1.00
- Bag of Chips: $0.38
- Pack of Crackers: $0.25
- Banana: $0.27
Total Cost: $1.00 + $0.38 + $0.25 + $0.27 = $1.90
So, my packed lunch would cost approximately $1.90. Do note that these prices can vary based on location, brand, and any sales or discounts available.
Assuming the average cost of eating out for lunch is around $10 per day, and a packed lunch costs about $1.90 to make, I would save $8.10 each day I bring my lunch to work.
- Daily Savings: $10 (eating out) – $1.90 (packed lunch) = $8.10
- Weekly Savings (5 workdays): $8.10 x 5 = $40.50
- Monthly Savings (assuming 4 weeks): $40.50 x 4 = $162
- Yearly Savings: $162 x 12 = $1,944
So, by packing my lunch instead of eating out, I could potentially save around $1,944 a year.
How much could you save by packing lunch for work? The answer, of course, depends on several factors: where you live, your workplace amenities like a cafeteria, whether you cook at home, and if you can bring leftovers, among other things.
But generally, your potential savings might not be too different from mine. Even in challenging situations, like for an overhead crane operator stuck for 12 hours without access to a fridge or microwave, using a thermos can keep food warm.
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David Bakke is a personal finance expert and the published author of the book ‘Don’t Be A Mule.’ Specializing in money management, investing, retirement, income generation, and entrepreneurship, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida. David started his own blog, YourFinances101, in 2009. His writing has been featured in Investopedia, Business Insider, US News, and Money Crashers.