How Much Money Does Bringing Your Lunch To Work Save In A Year?

How Much Money Does Bringing Your Lunch To Work Save In A Year?

You’ve heard that bringing your own lunch to work can save you money, but how much does it really save? According to personal finance site Money Crashers, it’s a lot.

Photo by J P.

Money Crashers broke down various categories of food and drink that many of us tend to buy from a store each day. They compared the cost of homemade items to typical store bought prices. Even with some extremely generous price estimates (the site assumes a coffee-to-go costs $2, for example), the amount saved per year easily reaches the thousands:

By bringing in your own coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, and beverages every day, you can save anywhere from $US2,000 to $US4,200 or more over the span of an entire year. And taking your own food to work is not just economical — in many cases, it’s also the more health-conscious option. When you prepare your own meals, you can use healthier, more natural ingredients and reduce your chances of overeating due to better portion control.

You can find the full breakdown at the source below. The site bases its calculations on US food prices, which on the whole are cheaper than in Australia. This is especially true if you’re buying lunch from a central business district where a single coffee can cost up to $5.

In other words, you can expect the savings to work out even better over here. (With that said, at least we aren’t obliged to tip!)

How Much Can You Save by Bringing Your Own Lunch Food to Work? [Money Crashers]


  • Bringing your own espresso based coffee to work? Sounds like a huge PITA, and the reason coffee shops do so well. Easier for Americans, most of them drink swill.

        • Dunno aye – I’ve got an (sub-$1000) espresso machine at home and an aeropress at work, and for my ordinary tastes I find the aeropress about 80% as good as the espresso. I still buy takeaway espresso once or twice a week, but save a good $20-30/week, which goes a long way towards not being broke on a regular basis.

  • The flip side is:

    1. How much time does buying lunch save you (supermarket, preparation etc)
    2. Is bringing your lunch costing you networking opportunities?

    A combination approach is best.

      • I consider the walk part of my daily exercise. That and the walk too and from work is an hour a day, plus it gets me me out of the office for 30 minutes. You can number crunch too much and miss other benefits along the way.

  • my favourite is driving home for lunch, cooking it fresh and watching an episode of something on TV. The benefits of living in a small town and having an hour long lunch break.

    • +1 for living in a small town. Always love riding my bike home for lunch (30 min return trip) and being able to cook up a fresh and cheap feed. The summer months can really put a dampener on that ride though…

  • Depends on how much and of what you buy, in either option.
    I used to grab a six inch subway everyday, for about $7. So $35 a week.
    Making my own sandwiches it’s about $5 of meat from the deli, $4 for a loaf of bread, maybe $3 worth of salads, and maybe $3 of cheese. So $15 a week.
    Saving $20 a week, $1040 a year.
    And that’s something, but the flipside is I’m eating shitty cold sandwiches every day and have to make them.

    It’s a quality vs cost question really.

  • I just did the maths. Using a coffee plunger and good quality ground coffee instead of buying it, I save $57 a week. I cheat and microwave frozen meals when there aren’t any leftovers to bring though I do buy lunch every so often. If I only ate frozen meals, that would still be a saving of $17.50 a week. Over 46 weeks, that’s about $3,427 saved.

    Now, if only Lifehacker could provide some tips on how to deal with colleagues who ignore the fact that you’re at lunch and will even track you down on your floor if you opt to eat away from your desk. Our building’s location is awful and there is nowhere to sit outside to have lunch. Some of these people have bothered me even though they can see my mouth is full.

  • I bring microwave meals most of the time, like Sunrice Ready Meals, which cost $3.50 or $4 when on sale. I have my own espresso machine at work (Delonghi Magnifica) and I only drink short blacks. I might spend $40 a year on beans? So I think I’m doing ok cost wise.

    I could still go cheaper. 5x tins of tuna $4, loaf of bread $2, mayo $2, tomatoes $2, mixed lettuce $2 = $2.40 a day, but there is a lot more time and effort needed, and there’s little variety.

  • My daily sandwich probably amounts to $15 a week on food. My office has got a pretty expensive and free automatic coffee machine so I save on coffee’s, they save on my wasted time on coffee runs, it’s a win win. Compared to spending $15 a day on food and coffee combined, it’s definately helping me put a few extra dollars towards the mortgage. After I eat I go for a walk so I get some exercise and vitamin D.

    For those talking about networking, sure you can go out and have a laugh, but each time I’ve been head hunted it’s been because they’ve remembered my work, not lunch events.

  • It’s very cost effective to bring lunch and snacks to work. Plus, by planning your meals out, it definitely helps with portion control and allows for better ingredients as the article stated. When I started preparing more meals in advance last year, I saved a ton, didn’t have soda nearly as often since it wasn’t coming automatically with my meals anymore and I had more energy since I wasn’t eating heavy-brain draining foods!

    I always get the munchies while I’m at work and I started keeping a stash of fruit, nuts and yogurt that kept me away from the vending machines!

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