Personal Finance

10 Minute Finance Fix: Take Your Lunch to Work

The 10 Minute Finance Fix series focuses on topics you can learn in ten minutes or less to help improve your personal finances. In this 10 Minute Finance Fix, you will learn how taking your lunch to work one day a week adds up.

A couple of times a week, I put together a fantastic lunch – and brown bag it to work. It takes just a few minutes to put together in the morning before work and over time it saves a tremendous amount of money. If I spend $6 at lunch for a meal + drink (that’s probably on the low end), I can save near $20 a week if I bring my lunch three times a week. That’s $80 a month! Sometimes, I get creative and bring leftovers instead of a sandwich – to spice things up a little and provide some variety to lunch.

Here are a few complaints I had with the “brown bag” club – and how I address them.

I don’t want to mess up the kitchen for this! I’ve found that for me the best time to do this is during clean-up time from supper. The kitchen is already a mess, so I just make my food for the next day and stow it away in the refrigerator. So, if you don’t want to make your lunch in the morning before work, make it the night before.

I’ll lose out on valuable networking time if I do this. Unless you work in a tiny office, there are probably some people who don’t eat out. If you just take your lunch half the time, you can actually improve your networking by eating with the brown bag club sometimes and the regular crew other days.

Brown bag lunches taste like my mom’s old bologna. Brown bag lunches can be tasty if you do it right. For example, you can eat leftovers from your evening dinner, and getting high quality condiments can make a boring sandwich great (I love my French mustard). Keeping the vegetables (lettuce, tomato) separate will help keep the sandwich from getting soggy. Pack some fruit or a sandwich bag of chips as a side dish.

I use eating out for lunch as an excuse to get out of this miserable office. Take your sack lunch outside and eat in the fresh air. You can even take it to your car and drive to a park or something. Brown bagging it doesn’t require you to eat at work. You can even join your friends at a fast food restaurant with outdoor seating.

I don’t think I can miss out on kvetching with my friends. Try to convince a bunch of them to start a brown bag day once a week – it will be good for all of your wallets.

Taking your lunch several times per week can save you $50-100 per month. We know it’s not the most glamorous thing, but the opportunity to save money, pay off debt, and live your dreams is worth it!