Saving Money by Taking Your Own Lunches to Work

If you work out how much you’re spending on work lunches in the average work week, you might be surprised to know just how much money is being frittered away. You can save money by taking your own lunches to work and depending on what you’ve previously been grabbing in your lunch break, it might be a lot healthier too. Here are some tips on making it work for you.

The Benefits of Bringing Your Own Lunch

You control the contents. Most of us are pushed for time when we head out on our lunch break so if you’re anything like most people, you probably just grab a sandwich or something else that isn’t necessarily as healthy as it may first appear. By making your own lunches, you’ve got complete control over what goes into the meal and can avoid high calorie counts.

It’s quicker than you might think. Never have enough time to put a packed lunch together in the mornings? Do it in the evening instead. Get into the habit of putting together a sandwich in the evening so that you just need to grab a few other things in the morning. If you’re after something more substantial, cook a bit extra when you prepare your evening meal the night before and pack this up to take to work with you in the morning. This doesn’t require much more effort than what you were already doing and is perfect if you’re always pushed for time in the mornings! This is what we do and it works great.

It’s cheaper. Even if you’re “only” paying a few dollars a day for lunch, this quickly adds up and can easily set you back hundreds of dollars per year. By making your own lunch, you can cut this figure quite considerably, especially if you recycle leftovers from the night before so that you’re cutting down on food wastage.

It’s more environmentally friendly. It may not seem like it at first glance but if you’re used to regularly driving to and from the office to pick up lunch, you can do your bit for the environment by making less trips in your car and you can also save on gas by ditching the extra mileage.

Staying Motivated

Packed lunches are often seen as dull but that doesn’t have to be the case. No matter how much you like certain foods, you don’t want to be eating them all the time. If you take the same lunch every day, chances are that you’ll be bored to tears within a couple of weeks and this obviously increases the probability that you’ll find yourself slipping back into your old routine.

Packed lunches tend to bring to mind images of boring sandwiches but you can go far beyond this. Keeping things varied means that you’re less likely to fall off the wagon and lets you come up with interesting and appetizing creations. If you have access to a microwave at work, you could heat up leftovers or even a ready meal (homemade is the best option if you can spare some time at the weekend to knock a healthier one together to bring in). Even if there isn’t a microwave available, it doesn’t necessarily mean that hot food is off the menu altogether. Things like soup can be stored in a thermos flask so that they stay warm enough.

Taking your own lunch to work may not seem very glamorous or exciting but it can save you a lot of money over the course of the average year and is often a lot healthier than grabbing a sandwich or fast food. Contrary to what a lot of people assume, it doesn’t need to be any great effort to put together and there a lot of ways to mix things up so that you don’t get bored and go back to spending more.

So, do you bring your own lunches to work and if so, what kinds of things do you bring? Or, if you buy lunches every day, have you looked at what this is costing your wallet and your health? 


Saving Money by Taking Your Own Lunches to Work — 37 Comments

  1. It’s a nice idea in theory, but I have noticed some problems that can occur, which I went into detail on a couple month back in a post called Brown Bagging Lunch Has Just As Many Drawbacks As Benefits. Among them are the fact that if you choose to cook a weeks worth of food at once, you are essentially wasting an entire day (or a majority of it); the fact that you must remember undercook certain foods to avoid them being ruined upon reheating, and the for those who make a lot of one thing to finish throughout the week it can get boring and repetitive.

    I also just remembered something that I left out of my post which could be a factor too–having appliances in the workplace. Not having an oven or at least a toaster to heat food can be a little hampering especially if the food will be horrible in a microwave. I’m all for saving money, and I try to bring my own lunch when possible, but doing so at the cost of a good-tasting meal just doesn’t work for me in some instances, and at those times I’d rather spend a little money and enjoy my food.

  2. I have been doing it for a very long time. It vairies from leftovers from the night before to just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In the past, I have taken salads and soups too.

  3. Ah, yes! This is one of my favorites! I recently went a whole year without eating out for lunch at work. I’m a huge fan of leftovers, actually, so that helped a great deal. I do go out to dinner about once a week, too, so I convinced myself that my money is much better spent on that rather than lunches. I feel like lunch options are usually lower-quality and less expensive, too.

  4. About two years ago I did the calculation – I was spending about $500 per month on coffees and lunch (not very good lunch at that). So, I decided to change – no coffees (except form my coffee maker) and a take lunch from home. Wonderful! I save loads and eat very well. I mainly freeze soups and stews and then take these in my lunch box. Look a bit like the character in Working Girl (I wish)!

    • Awesome. It is amazing to see how much it adds up to when you actually sit down and calculate it. I am glad you made some changes and have been enjoying the benefits. Have you been feeling healthier too? I find I always feel better when I eat home cooked meals.

  5. I’ve been bringing my lunch to work almost every single day–except on teh days where i have work events and my lunch is paid for. I have no idea how people afford to go out to lunch every day, like a lot of my co-workers do. It is just SO much money.

  6. I too, have been doing this for some time. Both my wife and I try and do this at least 3 times per week, if not more.

    We only use glassware at work for our lunches. Less chemcials leaching into our food and easier to clean as well 🙂

    Good post. Will include later this week in my Weekend Reading roundup!

  7. Take your own, or buy occasionally, I definitely agree with this thrifty approach. Also, never eat alone. Lunch is a networking opportunity…every single day.

  8. We have been able to save so much money by taking lunches to work. There was a time that I would spend like I was entitled to the Starbucks coffee…just because I had worked so hard that day. A nice treat once in awhile, but definitely can suck all the money out of your account.

  9. Taking your own lunch to work just makes good sense. You get to ensure its healthy, within your budget, and something you feel like eating on that particular day.


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