How to Be Thrifty: Making a Case for the Brown-Bag Lunch

How to Be Thrifty: Making a Case for the Brown-Bag Lunch

So far in our Be Thrifty series, we've covered the 'buy it' test as well as the rewards of being a handy householder.  Today we start a discussion about the cost of food. Namely, lunch. 

Be Thrifty. How to Live Better With Less makes a compelling argument for those of us who have not yet made the decision to bring our lunches to work. You might think buying a sandwich and a drink doesn't cost THAT much, and comparing it to a meal out with the family, it doesn't. However, if we break it down, we can see just how much that quick lunch is really costing you.    

Be Thrifty uses the example of a simple turkey sandwich. Making one at home costs $3.75. That figure is based upon the following:

Bread: A 20 ounce loaf of store-bought bread costs about $3.29. That cost divided by 20 slices, which is the average slice quantity in a loaf equals about 30 cents for two slices.

Turkey: At about $6.49 a pound, three ounces of turkey will run about $1.21.

Lettuce: A head of of lettuce cost about 1 buck, so one serving is about 5 cents. 

Tomato: .49 each; 10 cents a serving.

Cheese: Swiss, 50 cents an ounce.

Total Sandwich cost: 2.61 + one can of soda from a 12 pack (.32 cents), an apple (.60 cents) and some pretzels (.22 cents an ounce). 

The total of our brown bag lunch equals $3.75 compared to the average 8 dollar deli dash. Extrapolated out over the week, that's about a $21.50 savings. Over the course of a year ... a whopping $1,118. Okay, okay, but you don't want to bother to make your lunch every day. Just brown-bagging it TWICE a week will save you $8.50. Not a big deal? Multiply that out for the entire year, and the figure jumps up to a respectable $442

Just think about that for a sec and consider what you could buy for $442. Better yet, consider what you could buy for $1,118.

For more great, and thought-provoking money saving ideas, including other food-related tips like how to be a thrifty cook, check out Be Thrifty, and don't forget to enter our contest to win a free copy of the book!  



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DesigningMom on Jun 17, 2010:

Kat, you are not only saving money over your hubby's  habits, but are eating so much healthier! Good for you girl!

DIY Maven on Jun 17, 2010:

Kat, you make a VERY good point. For those who don't want to mess with making a sandwich or etc, a frozen option will still be less expensive than going out to eat and--as in the case of Kashi and the like--probably even healthier. 

Kat on Jun 17, 2010:

Oh man I keep trying to drive this point into my husband's brain!!! He is a Burger King fanatic (I on the other hand can't stand it). He can also spend $13 on his own meal at these places. I have added it up before and in 2 weeks he spent $230 on fast food alone!!! That's more than I spend on groceries! Anyway, I have become a fan of the Kashi frozen dinners and since I am always short on time I bring those rather than packing a lunch.

DesigningMom on Jun 16, 2010:

Yes, it sure is.

DIY Maven on Jun 16, 2010:

Yeah, the time is a huge factor too. The time it takes to make your lunch in the morning--or night before--is recouped at lunchtime, when you think about it. 

DesigningMom on Jun 16, 2010:

Back in the day when I did work outside the home I learned very quickly how much money one can spend when eating out. Not just the cost of food, but the gas to get to and from work to buy that lunch. It all added up way to fast for me. My hubby always packs his own lunch and snacks for his day time job and when he umpires.

I think the best way to look at it is one, you're controling what you eat by picking healthier foods than you can get at most restaurants/fast food shops. Two how long do you have to work before you've paid for the cost of your lunch and the gas to get to and from where you buy that lunch. And last, but certainly not least is the time you in travel when you could be having a relaxing lunch chatting with friends/co-workers.

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