You Won't Believe How Much Money a Year We Waste on Lunch


desklunchAfter years of freelancing at home on the "mommy track," I returned this fall to full-time, drag-your-butt-into-the-city-every-day work. And the biggest shock to my system? Not the busy pace, not the grueling subway commute, and not the inconvenience of changing out of my pajamas every day. No, the biggest shock was how much money I started shelling out on lunch.

Did you know that two-thirds of American workers spend $1,924 a year on lunch? CHOMP! I think I just lost my appetite. And the worst part of it is -- just going by taste, it's hardly worth the money.

Maybe it depends on where you work, but here there seems to be an inverse relationship between the quality of available food and the number of office workers in a given area. As in, the more of us there are, the lousier the options. All the cheap and delicious food is out somewhere else. Here in Midtown, we're surrounded by fast food and those overpriced salad/sandwich/soup megaplexes that specialize in $7 bowls of vaguely-balsamic disappointment.

That's where I was getting my lunch most days my first few weeks back at work (except for the amazeballs Korean fried chicken place I'm still trying to forget about for my thighs' sake, sigh). It's not that bad, I guess. In fact, having that instant lunch a block away can be a huge time-saver, and I can see how it's worth it to a lot of people. Those salads taste perfectly fine at first. But after a while they begin to taste all the same. AND THEN THEY BEGIN TO EAT YOUR SOUL.

Meanwhile, because my husband and I like to cook (usually), there's all this good food at home -- in the form of dinner leftovers. So I've ditched the $7 salads for leftover Tuscan white bean stew, enchiladas, and roasted cauliflower. I still use the saladsmorgasbord down the block for emergency days. But count me as a worker who won't be part of that $2,000 statistic.

Do you eat out for lunch? What do you usually get?


Image via Matt Seppings/Flickr

eating out, food, in the news, lunch


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Littl... LittleFrogsMA

Teachers can't eat out at lunch generally.    

Melis... Melissa042807

When I was a single working gal, I ate out for lunch almost every day. My wake-up call came when I actually looked closely at my bank statement one month and I had spent more money on restaurants than I had on groceries! So I started packing lunches more, and eating out cheaper. Then I got a job like five minutes from home so I started going home for lunch most days. Fridays were the only day I ate out after that - work closed at noon but I always had more to do after the office closed, so I'd go get a lunch and bring it back to eat while I did my work in peace and quiet. Ahhhh, peace and quiet...what are those again??? LOL

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

My husband takes lunch most days. Sometimes dinner leftovers, sometimes sandwiches, and sometimes things I have made specially and frozen like tubs of soup. The only day he eats out is Friday because is whole team goes out.

GlowW... GlowWorm889

Nope, I always pack my own. Besides not being able to go out for lunch, I'm trying to be healthier with my lunch choices. Still trying to phaze out that go-to PBJ for something with a little more substance. At least I've started eating it on whole-wheat? XD

EBee12 EBee12

I pack DH a lunch daily. I WAH now, so I obviously eat at home. When I worked, I drove home for lunch every day, so I spent $ on gas but not eating out.

nonmember avatar WePackLunch

I pack lunch every day for hubs and myself. We always make sure we've got left overs or a pot of soup for lunches. Eating out every day gets way too expensive. Plus, when you cook your own food, you know exactly what is and is not going into that food and chances are, it's far healthier and safer than buying something out. In addition, there is less wear and tear on the car not having to run out to get lunch. I find I'm more productive because I eat at my desk while working.

mommy... mommywoos

My DH and I eat out everyday. I cringe thinking how much we spend as we dont normally go for the dollar menu either. Yikes!!

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