How to Save 50% on Your Lunch Costs

Money Under 30 recently wrote about the costs associated with eating out.  The article also provided a lot of good tips on minimizing and avoiding those costs.  ($3.25 for an iced tea?  Come on now.)  Now I already know what you’re thinking, eating out is probably the most over-analyzed topic in the personal finance world.  But give me 5 minutes and I’ll illustrate in real world terms how you can save $60,000.

Another post about packing lunch?  How cliché!  YAWN!

A lot of people dread cooking.  It’s another chore that they don’t have time for, and it’s just so much easier to run out at lunch and pick something up.  Personally, I’m a big fan of Sunday meal preparation.  I like to cook when it doesn’t feel like a chore, and Sundays are a convenient day of the week for me to cook a nice big meal and have plenty of leftovers to pack for my lunches the rest of the week.

Alright how are you going to save me $60,000?

In an average cost of living city, picking up a prepared lunch will easily cost $15.  Sure, you can get down into the $10-12 range at fast food, but any fast casual restaurant will run you closer to $14-16 or higher if it’s a sit down restaurant with table service (don’t forget to tip!)  For our calculation let’s assume $15 per serving.

Comparatively, $20 worth of groceries will buy you the ingredients for a large meatloaf with carbohydrate and vegetable of your choice.  Enough for 5 servings, $4 per serving.  For our calculation we’ll assume $5 per serving.

The difference between eating out 5 times a week versus just once per week, 50 weeks a year (because you take vacation the other two weeks) over 30 years is $60,000.

But this is only illustrative.  Maybe you get tired of packing lunch 4 days a week and a better option for you is to pack lunch twice a week.  That’s fine, the point is eating out is an expensive habit and it’s a relatively easy habit to break.  If you can implement small changes into your routines, they will compound over time and become real money.

What are you cooking this week?  Tell me in the comments below.