Taking Lunch to Work

Anyone looking for an easy way to start saving for financial independence or early retirement? My current employer has a cafeteria on site, it makes it so convenient for everyone to buy lunch, but I think this is one of the biggest wastes of money. Ever since my first “real” summer job, I have been taking my lunch to work. I could never imagine buying lunch daily, but I see people do it every day.

I have never added up how much can be saved by bring lunch to work. Let’s give it a whirl. In my 15-year career, which would equate to roughly 3,375 working days, I can say I have bought a lunch around 30 times or .9% of the time.  Based on current prices in the café, I would say the average lunch costs $6.35. If I had bought lunch every day over the course of my career I would have spent $21,431.25. Holy smokes, that’s a chunk of change. I am so glad I have only spent $190.50 and a new $8 lunch box every couple of years.

Imagine if both my wife and I bought lunch over the course of a full working career. For this, I am saying a career is 42 years at an average of 225 working days per year for a total of 9450 days. Using the same $6.35 cost of lunch, this would equal $60,007.50 per spouse or $120,015 for us both. Over $120,000 spent on lunch, $120,000! If this money was saved and invested with a 5% return we would have roughly $210,000 at the end of 42 years, all by taking our lunch to work. I can defiantly say I will happily continue to bring my lunch to work in exchange for this kind of savings.


  1. Great points – though one thing I consider is the time spent to prepare the meals… I use the time that I would use to prepare meals for the week to grow and work on my business.

    It’s an opportunity cost thing for me.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • I can see if you were spending extra time putting the meals together. For me it 5 minutes to throw a sandwich or leftover together and pack them up.

  2. Yeah, that’s pretty crazy to quantify. Wow. The numbers are the numbers though. Great analysis.

    I take my lunch to work most days. There are times when I treat myself to something different to switch things up. But, I normally just make good old PB+J. Works for me and gives me some protein for the days I run on my lunch break!

  3. You definitely bring up strong points on why you should not be eating out everyday. I admit that I eat out more than I should and try to decrease the costs by buying discounted gift cards to lower the costs. But I definitely could/should be saving the money 🙂 Thanks for the great reminder!!!

    • I hear you. Eating out is so convenient, can be completely different styles, and someone else is cooking and cleaning up the mess. Glad you are looking to discounts to keep the costs down.

  4. I’m a huge take my lunch to work fan. It used to be mainly for the money reasons but now I find it for the convenience. It’s just a hassle to go out and grab something. I used to treat myself every Friday with getting lunch, but now i would still just rather bring it so i don’t have to leave the office. I usually do a big Can of Soup guy, protein bars, apple, orange, bag of chips. I also have to drive past two Chick Filet’s on the way to work so that is also a treat some times to grab breakfast…

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