Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

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AnonJohn
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by AnonJohn » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:17 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:01 pm
GuyFromGeorgia wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:24 pm
For me, it isn't about just the money. It is about the flexibility and the variety. It is extremely rare that I want to eat what I ate last night, and I'm sure as shoot not going to eat PB&J as a staple.
I completely agree with this line of thinking too. But I'm also ready for the line of people who say they enjoy their cold PB&J as much as anything they could get at a restaurant :P
Depends on the restaurant! :) I'd take PB&J over, say, Taco Bell, every day of the week ...

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alpine_boglehead
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by alpine_boglehead » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:19 pm

Very timely thread - just finished preparing a delicious zucchini stew for the next few days

For me brown-bagging has lots of advantages:
- saves (some) time, the roundtrip to a restaurant in the vicinity takes 15+ minutes
- saves money (my usual meal is < $1.5, eating out is > $7)
- control over what's in the meal. Ever had problems staying awake in a meeting after an opulent lunch? :D
- healthier (we do gardening for a hobby, e.g. the above zucchini is homegrown. If we ate out, in summer we couldn't use up all the produce)
- reduces food waste for us - anything approaching expiry date which we can't use up will get converted into the upcoming lunches
- gets me recipies from like-minded coworkers who also bring their lunch :) (around here those who brown-bag do actual cooking)

Usually prepare enough for two days, and one or two servings for the freezer for when I get lazy.
Networking isn't a problem in my company because there's lots of people bringing their own food.

As in stocks, there's many factors :P

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greg24
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by greg24 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:25 pm

It is worth it for some people.

Definitely not worth it for me.

mak1277
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by mak1277 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:31 pm

AnonJohn wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:17 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:01 pm
GuyFromGeorgia wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:24 pm
For me, it isn't about just the money. It is about the flexibility and the variety. It is extremely rare that I want to eat what I ate last night, and I'm sure as shoot not going to eat PB&J as a staple.
I completely agree with this line of thinking too. But I'm also ready for the line of people who say they enjoy their cold PB&J as much as anything they could get at a restaurant :P
Depends on the restaurant! :) I'd take PB&J over, say, Taco Bell, every day of the week ...
I eat taco bell approximately once a week, so you're definitely barking up the wrong tree with me on that one. Especially if you're talking about savings...full and delicious Taco Bell lunch for under $5 is easy.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:33 pm

I'll go further, the cheapest sandwich is $7, a soft drink or flavored beverage will set you back another $3. That's $10 just for lunch.
Now couple that with breakfast - an bowl of oatmeal is $3, a cup of coffee is $2. Another $5.
Our office has a kitchen with a microwave and coffee maker, but if your's doesn't simply eat it at home before you leave for the office. Your wallet will thank you as will your waistline. :wink:

220 days x $15 is $3,300 per year. $3,300 @ 6% nominal yields $276,241.64. At a WR of 4%, your breakfast and lunch will pay you an $11K annuity each year on an inflation adjusted basis.
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3dream3
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by 3dream3 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:35 pm

When I'm at work, I eat out all the time. However, I do work from home half the week so I'm only really eating out 2-3 times. My lunches are usually between $5-$7 (I only drink water). Prior to WFH, I always ate out too. I like saving time not preparing food, having one less thing to carry to/from work, not washing the containers when I get home, getting out and away from the office and socializing/networking with other colleagues. I think just getting out and eating away from the office was a nice sanity check for me.
Last edited by 3dream3 on Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:35 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:11 am
Not worth it for me. I've never brown bagged a day in my career and I managed to save money (although being in high income positions clearly helped). The $78,000 you quote isn't enough to make me regret what I've done to this point.
How about a cool quarter million? Still don't regret leaving the downpayment on your McClaren at the Blimpie store? :P
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:39 pm

juliewongferra wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:13 am
investingdad wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:02 am
My wife and I pretty much bring lunch from home to eat at the office every day. We've been doing this all of our respective 22 year careers to date.

I've noticed in my office, some people do the same as me. And others go to our cafeteria or get take out every, and I mean EVERY, day.

So I was curious what this could add up to and did some math.

- assume 235 days in the office each year
- we brown bag 95% of the time, so 220 bagged lunches each year
- I think we save about $4 per person, per lunch by doing this
- that's about $1800 savings a year

So that's not a huge amount of money, but wait...there's more.

- we've invested since day 1 of working
- reasonable for me to assume that saved money was invested
- at 6% a year returns, over 22 years, it sums up to $78,000

And...if that money stays in the portfolio and continues to grow another decade at 6% a year until we retire in our fifties, it's about $140,000.

Please pass me the sandwich. :)
So I agree with brown bagging your lunch, but let's not forget opportunity cost of having to make/prepare/cook the food and go shopping. (Sure, maybe you'll say that you're eating leftovers and they've been already cooked...but in this case, you're eating food for lunch that you could have had for dinner when you get home, so there is still an opportunity loss built into it.)

Remember, that you're not only buying the food. You're buying the labor, time, and effort it would take you to construct the actual item. This is true for whatever purchase we make: food, clothes, car, home, etc.

So it's not a strictly financial calculation!!

cheers,
jwf
Cook in batches, make enough for your main meal and to add to your lunch. I saute a huge batch of vegetables, etc. use some for your lunch, use some for main meals, end of week, rinse, repeat. Constructing a lunch should not take more than a few minutes, it takes me longer to empty my dishwasher.
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:42 pm

livesoft wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:23 am
Where I live, I can go out to lunch for $15 and eat only one-quarter to one-third of it and bring the rest home for dinner or save it for lunch the next day, so that's $4 to $5 a day for lunch when I don't have to make it. Or I can make lunch for about $1 to $1.50. Or I can eat sushi for less than $10.

I do all 3 to a varying degree. Going out though saves me some dinners, too.

And many places have daily specials:
"WEDNESDAY: Half Price “Original” Burgers & Texas Wagyu Burgers All Day" so that would be $6 plus tax/tip for two meals for sitting in a restaurant with a server coming to your table to take an order.
Or you can eat for free at your neighbors house! :wink: Use the savings to pick up a fractional share of VWO. :moneybag
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mak1277
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by mak1277 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:42 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:35 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:11 am
Not worth it for me. I've never brown bagged a day in my career and I managed to save money (although being in high income positions clearly helped). The $78,000 you quote isn't enough to make me regret what I've done to this point.
How about a cool quarter million? Still don't regret leaving the downpayment on your McClaren at the Blimpie store? :P
Nah...I'm not a car guy.

livesoft
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by livesoft » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:44 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:42 pm
Or you can eat for free at your neighbors house! :wink: Use the savings to pick up a fractional share of VWO. :moneybag
Yep, my neighbors are really nice. :) But I am happy to take them to lunch on those 2-for-1 days because they over reciprocate.
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triceratop
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by triceratop » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:49 pm

I go home for lunch most times, unless I visit a mexican food truck ($6).

Fortunately home is a 5 minute walk from where I work, assuming I go to the office. Why would I bag it; I don't like eating at the office. Usually I make soup which lasts for 4-5 days, or I eat a salad. It's pretty cost-effective, when you shop at a place like Aldi.

I think it's worth it; especially at my low income it, along with other such frugalities, allow me to still save what many of those with double my income save.
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stoptothink
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:51 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:39 pm
Cook in batches, make enough for your main meal and to add to your lunch. I saute a huge batch of vegetables, etc. use some for your lunch, use some for main meals, end of week, rinse, repeat. Constructing a lunch should not take more than a few minutes, it takes me longer to empty my dishwasher.
Not going to spend the time to explain how we eat so cheaply and it takes us so little time and effort (for the upteenth time), but it really is this easy. People simply enjoy the taste and experience of eating out (and that is great); I have a very difficult time buying any rationalization that it is easier or takes less time.

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KlingKlang
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by KlingKlang » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:53 pm

It really depends on the company culture. I have worked at a couple of places where the boss and his 'A-Team' left for their three hour lunch at 11 every day and dropped their work off on my desk because I could do it while I was brown bagging it.

scienceguy
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by scienceguy » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:55 pm

Its not really about the money for me. I much prefer to bring my lunch because it allows me to work much more efficiently and in a more relaxed and natural fashion. If I have no food, I start to get hungry at 11 and spend the next 45 minutes deciding where to go to lunch, and the next hour doing it. If I bring my lunch, I eat slowly all day, hang out in my office/lab, and talk to people and get stuff done and intermittently read web stuff. Way better. But I do go to a great BBQ place sometimes with my colleagues because its great and lets us relax and hang out.

AZAttorney11
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by AZAttorney11 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:59 pm

investingdad wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:02 am
My wife and I pretty much bring lunch from home to eat at the office every day. We've been doing this all of our respective 22 year careers to date.

I've noticed in my office, some people do the same as me. And others go to our cafeteria or get take out every, and I mean EVERY, day.

So I was curious what this could add up to and did some math.

- assume 235 days in the office each year
- we brown bag 95% of the time, so 220 bagged lunches each year
- I think we save about $4 per person, per lunch by doing this
- that's about $1800 savings a year

So that's not a huge amount of money, but wait...there's more.

- we've invested since day 1 of working
- reasonable for me to assume that saved money was invested
- at 6% a year returns, over 22 years, it sums up to $78,000

And...if that money stays in the portfolio and continues to grow another decade at 6% a year until we retire in our fifties, it's about $140,000.

Please pass me the sandwich. :)
Careful. Depending on your occupation and company, effectively using the lunch hour to network internally or externally can lead to substantially higher income down the road. There are costs to brown bagging your lunch on a daily basis (in terms of career opportunities). Some of the most successful executives I know use the lunch hour and coffee breaks to influence, build relationships, etc. And by investing their lunch hour wisely, they've earned substantially more than they would have saved by eating lunch for $1.62 a day.

doss
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by doss » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:00 pm

This is something I've been thinking about. With kids at home and a very busy evening, it has been difficult to find time to make healthy food that lasts more than a day. Time and healthy food are my priorities, and buying lunch at my employer's cafeteria allows me to meet those objectives as easily as possible. I don't mind paying a little more money on the week days if that means I may get to live a little longer as a result of eating healthier.

I read all kinds of people saying that bagged lunch is "healthy", but then i read some of the choices here like PB&J, sandwiches, etc. My question is, are you really eating healthy? At least with the cafeteria you can choose fresh and instant vegetables, meats, etc...

I think we also need to ask, "What is healthy?"

New York Times this week: "New Study Favors Fat over Carbs":


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/well ... carbs.html

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:06 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:06 pm
DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:56 am
KlangFool has a good point. In the grand scheme of things you aren't talking a lot of money. You can save far more by owning a home that is more easily affordable to you and by having a non-luxury car that is easily afforded. Everyone I know in my income range live in more expensive houses and drive more expensive cars and some of the them then complain about the $10 they might spend on a lunch out.
If you actually crunch the numbers, this statement isn't nearly as true as you think. I know my family's food spending is far from ordinary, but according to the USDA, we spend slightly more than 1/3 of what a normal family four does per month on food...on the "thrifty" plan. The "average" family spends more than 4x what we do on food. I know my brother, with his family of four, spends approximately 10x what we do on food. I could buy a heck of a lot more house or car for the $400-$900+ we are saving per month over the "average" family, not to mention there is at least some resale value of homes and cars.
Taking your minimum number of $400 - that means that I spend $20 MORE on brown-bagging daily (so you are buying $25 lunches? Maybe in NYC).
Taking $900 - that would mean I'm spending $45 more per day on lunch?? I suppose you would if you eat at Ruth Chris's for lunch daily but that's not what folks are discussing here.
I know a lot of folks spending $1000 more monthly than me on their mortgage and I know folks spending $300-$400 more than me monthly on their cars. I don't know anyone that spend $400-$900 on lunches monthly.
Now if you want to extend it to dining-out, organic grocery-shopping, etc. - that is a different story. I was talking about eating a simple lunch out every day.

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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:07 pm

AZAttorney11 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:59 pm
investingdad wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:02 am
My wife and I pretty much bring lunch from home to eat at the office every day. We've been doing this all of our respective 22 year careers to date.

I've noticed in my office, some people do the same as me. And others go to our cafeteria or get take out every, and I mean EVERY, day.

So I was curious what this could add up to and did some math.

- assume 235 days in the office each year
- we brown bag 95% of the time, so 220 bagged lunches each year
- I think we save about $4 per person, per lunch by doing this
- that's about $1800 savings a year

So that's not a huge amount of money, but wait...there's more.

- we've invested since day 1 of working
- reasonable for me to assume that saved money was invested
- at 6% a year returns, over 22 years, it sums up to $78,000

And...if that money stays in the portfolio and continues to grow another decade at 6% a year until we retire in our fifties, it's about $140,000.

Please pass me the sandwich. :)
Careful. Depending on your occupation and company, effectively using the lunch hour to network internally or externally can lead to substantially higher income down the road. There are costs to brown bagging your lunch on a daily basis (in terms of career opportunities). Some of the most successful executives I know use the lunch hour and coffee breaks to influence, build relationships, etc. And by investing their lunch hour wisely, they've earned substantially more than they would have saved by eating lunch for $1.62 a day.
I get to spend my lunch hour in my corporate gym, usually with 3 of my company's 4 founders. Yeah, it really depends on the environment.

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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:12 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:06 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:06 pm
DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:56 am
KlangFool has a good point. In the grand scheme of things you aren't talking a lot of money. You can save far more by owning a home that is more easily affordable to you and by having a non-luxury car that is easily afforded. Everyone I know in my income range live in more expensive houses and drive more expensive cars and some of the them then complain about the $10 they might spend on a lunch out.
If you actually crunch the numbers, this statement isn't nearly as true as you think. I know my family's food spending is far from ordinary, but according to the USDA, we spend slightly more than 1/3 of what a normal family four does per month on food...on the "thrifty" plan. The "average" family spends more than 4x what we do on food. I know my brother, with his family of four, spends approximately 10x what we do on food. I could buy a heck of a lot more house or car for the $400-$900+ we are saving per month over the "average" family, not to mention there is at least some resale value of homes and cars.
Taking your minimum number of $400 - that means that I spend $20 MORE on brown-bagging daily (so you are buying $25 lunches? Maybe in NYC).
Taking $900 - that would mean I'm spending $45 more per day on lunch?? I suppose you would if you eat at Ruth Chris's for lunch daily but that's not what folks are discussing here.
I know a lot of folks spending $1000 more monthly than me on their mortgage and I know folks spending $300-$400 more than me monthly on their cars. I don't know anyone that spend $400-$900 on lunches monthly.
Now if you want to extend it to dining-out, organic grocery-shopping, etc. - that is a different story. I was talking about eating a simple lunch out every day.
Why wouldn't you extrapolate that data to include eating out for all meals? It is a very direct connection and one that is extremely easy to find statistics for. The bottom line is that eating out on a regular basis (regardless of what meal it is) can be just as, if not more, financially costly than that McMansion or luxury car. I realize OP was just mentioning lunch, but that is just a small part of the entire picture. It is very relevant.

ktd
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by ktd » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:18 pm

I save a lot by drinking water only. I am so slim and fit. A lot of people have to pay for that.

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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by JW-Retired » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:19 pm

I guess it saved a few bucks, but more importantly I believe my brown bag lunch was critical for dealing with my health challenges. My last 15 years of working, DW made me a healthy low cal bag lunch that I could wolf down at my desk in 5 minutes. That left me 40 minutes at noon for a brisk walk, which I did religiously. The light lunch + exercise worked well, and I was able to slowly shed and keep off that extra 30-ish lbs that was always chasing after me. The weather was usually good, so there was a fair number of noon runners & walkers at my employer.

Also found the walk gave me a big mental re-charge going into the afternoon.
JW
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DaftInvestor
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:20 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:12 pm
DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:06 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:06 pm
DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:56 am
KlangFool has a good point. In the grand scheme of things you aren't talking a lot of money. You can save far more by owning a home that is more easily affordable to you and by having a non-luxury car that is easily afforded. Everyone I know in my income range live in more expensive houses and drive more expensive cars and some of the them then complain about the $10 they might spend on a lunch out.
If you actually crunch the numbers, this statement isn't nearly as true as you think. I know my family's food spending is far from ordinary, but according to the USDA, we spend slightly more than 1/3 of what a normal family four does per month on food...on the "thrifty" plan. The "average" family spends more than 4x what we do on food. I know my brother, with his family of four, spends approximately 10x what we do on food. I could buy a heck of a lot more house or car for the $400-$900+ we are saving per month over the "average" family, not to mention there is at least some resale value of homes and cars.
Taking your minimum number of $400 - that means that I spend $20 MORE on brown-bagging daily (so you are buying $25 lunches? Maybe in NYC).
Taking $900 - that would mean I'm spending $45 more per day on lunch?? I suppose you would if you eat at Ruth Chris's for lunch daily but that's not what folks are discussing here.
I know a lot of folks spending $1000 more monthly than me on their mortgage and I know folks spending $300-$400 more than me monthly on their cars. I don't know anyone that spend $400-$900 on lunches monthly.
Now if you want to extend it to dining-out, organic grocery-shopping, etc. - that is a different story. I was talking about eating a simple lunch out every day.
Why wouldn't you extrapolate that data to include eating out for all meals? It is a very direct connection and one that is extremely easy to find statistics for. The bottom line is that eating out on a regular basis (regardless of what meal it is) can be just as, if not more, financially costly than that McMansion or luxury car. I realize OP was just mentioning lunch, but that is just a small part of the entire picture. It is very relevant.
Because the title of the thread and the discussion is "Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?"
When I said "you aren't talking a lot of money" - I wasn't talking about monthly groceries - I was talking about brown-bagging it.
I would have a different perspective and certainly wouldn't have made the statements I made if we were talking about monthly food and dining budgets (heck - I know some people that could save $1000 monthly if they just stopped drinking wine - but that wasn't on-topic).

roflwaffle
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by roflwaffle » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:25 pm

I think it's worth it if I'm on top of everything. If I'm not, I've found it's usually cost effective for me to do *other things myself because those other things usually have a higher marginal cost per unit of my time than paying someone for food does. For me, the quality/nutrition of eating out is as much of a downside as the cost.

*Most things involving the maintenance, repairs, and improvements of homes, autos, landscaping, personal consumer items, and whatever else I feel is cost effective for me to DIY.

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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by ray.james » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:30 pm

We go along hybrid route. Until few years ago I used to eat out almost 80% of meals. Now married and with a kid, we batch cook on weekend. That gets us to Wednesday. Baking, eating out, getting curry takeout and mix with veggie saute/rice at home gets us through rest of week in healthy cheap way. Over the years according to mint I am spending the same amount on food except we have grown from 1 to 4 people.

Instant pot with legumes/pulses, eggs, rice, bulk veggie baking, saute, bread and yogurt/milk as 80% of food with occasional chicken/fish make overall healthy and cheap.
When in doubt, http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=79939

investingdad
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by investingdad » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:54 pm

This topic seems to resonate with a lot of folks, both positively and negatively.

I would like to highlight that I'm not advocating that anyone here (or in my office) do what my wife and I have done with the whole lunch thing.

I'm simply sharing what I believe the financial benefit has been to us over the last twenty plus years. And yes, I think the impact has been tangible.

BW1985
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by BW1985 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:00 pm

We cook on Sundays and make enough food for the weeks lunches and dinners. We spend more on groceries than the average couple but we're okay with that.

My wife will eat lunch out occasionally because we cook very healthy and she enjoys the occasional meal out to splurge whereas I do not.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

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inittowinit
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by inittowinit » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:01 pm

I brown bag about 30% of the time. The other 70% I pay about $9 on average for lunch (which doubles for me as breakfast since I don't typically eat 'til late morning).

Eating out most of the time brings me joy and saves me time and frustration at home, so for me it is not a biggie. I already save 50% of income so for me that is "enough". No need to clutch pearls over what I recognize and accept as a luxury expenditure.

Slacker
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Slacker » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:35 pm

Work from home

Almost never go out to eat lunch (we do go out for dinners on occasion).

Today's lunch:

I started a 1/2 Turkey in the oven around 9:30AM. Go back to work...
When the turkey hit ~160 I popped some zucchini slices in the oven on a lower rack (light spritzing of olive oil, salt and pepper).
Meanwhile, we started some quinoa in the rice cooker.

Then sliced up a watermelon.

Doing these activities is a great way to take a 10 minute break from work and chat with my wife (who also works from home in side by side offices).

Everything cooked to perfection. Not sure if I could get the same in a restaurant with the same minimal time commitment (waiting to be seated during the busy lunch hour, waiting for food to be cooked, getting such a healthy and delicious meal for a similar price point -> the turkey was $0.99/lb, zucchini was $1.29/lb, watermelon was $0.39/lb and Quinoa was pretty cheap from Costco).

Cash
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Cash » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:43 pm

To me, this is like the "latte factor." Yet another way people justify sacrificing small things by trying to add up savings and pretending that saved money has been/would be invested for X years at X percent.

I look forward to going out to lunch every day with my work buddies. I also enjoy regular lattes. Like Klangfool, I'd rather focus on higher-impact items rather than small daily joys.

Tutty59
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Tutty59 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:47 pm

I typically bring a lunch to work daily, although I'm not always good with motivating myself to cook in the days-prior. I do, however, find that prepping my own lunches for work forces my hand when it comes to eating healthier. I also have the option of packing snacks to eat throughout the day, whereas if I don't bring a lunch I come to the office completely unprepared. As far as the money savings go, I'm sure they're relevant but how much I could not say :sharebeer

mega317
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by mega317 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:15 pm

Don't forget to buy a nice lunch box or tote. After about a year it will offset the cost of the brown bags.

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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:18 pm

Cash wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:43 pm
To me, this is like the "latte factor." Yet another way people justify sacrificing small things by trying to add up savings and pretending that saved money has been/would be invested for X years at X percent.
I look at it from a totally different perspective; literally flipped on its head and the not insignificant amount we save each month simply eliminating the "latte factor" altogether does get invested or is used to pay down our mortgage at an accelerated rate. Even if we didn't invest it, I could think of a lot of things I could spend a few hundred a month on that would increase my quality of life far more than hitting the local restaurant for lunch every day. Then again, eating the same thing every day doesn't bother me at all, my health (and that of my family) is a huge priority, and I simply don't enjoy eating out. We all value different things.

BanquetBeer
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by BanquetBeer » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:38 pm

I mean, let's say lunch is $25 and then you add a rum and coke for $10, also gotta have desert so cake is $4 extra! When I bag my pb&j (free jam from chick filet!) with tap water I save easily $38.50/day. Invested in bitcoin that is $85billion at retirement age of 82!


Have we reached an appropriate level of rediculousness yet?

Every time this topic come up it is clearly more about preference than finance unless you're living at the poverty line. People making 50k aren't eating $25 lunches. People making 300k (generally) aren't eating $4 Taco Bell. There are always options where the price differential is equal to or less than your salary rate.

As far as eating "healthy" everyone here seems to equate calories in a meal with health but they are not related. How many calories you consume in a day vs how much you spend is impactful but I eat high calorie high fat food all the time and it generally fills me up enough I reduce or skip a subsequent meal.

Slacker
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Slacker » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:40 pm

AZAttorney11 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:59 pm
Careful. Depending on your occupation and company, effectively using the lunch hour to network internally or externally can lead to substantially higher income down the road. There are costs to brown bagging your lunch on a daily basis (in terms of career opportunities). Some of the most successful executives I know use the lunch hour and coffee breaks to influence, build relationships, etc. And by investing their lunch hour wisely, they've earned substantially more than they would have saved by eating lunch for $1.62 a day.
Luckily, I work from home and don't have to worry about "networking". Furthermore, I'm pretty much at the top of my game unless I give up my work from home option and vie for a managerial position - something I'd never want to do.

However, when I used to work in the office I'd go out to eat lunch with coworkers at least 1 time a week. 10yrs ago I used to go out to eat with coworkers 2-3 times a week. Never personally saw any "networking" benefits.

My current career I achieved 100% through personal accomplishments and qualifications with zero networking assistance and it represents a near 125% increase in income over my prior engineering position (switched companies, sectors and moved across the country). I recognize the "idea" of networking as it is often touted, but it has never been a factor that amounted to much in my career (personal relationships with coworkers were a little different and just because I didn't go to lunch with someone doesn't mean we didn't still have engaging interactions at or after work).

Has networking played a significant role in your salary, career trajectory or opportunities?

Slacker
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Slacker » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:48 pm

BanquetBeer wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:38 pm
People making 50k aren't eating $25 lunches. People making 300k (generally) aren't eating $4 Taco Bell. There are always options where the price differential is equal to or less than your salary rate.

As far as eating "healthy" everyone here seems to equate calories in a meal with health but they are not related. How many calories you consume in a day vs how much you spend is impactful but I eat high calorie high fat food all the time and it generally fills me up enough I reduce or skip a subsequent meal.
I look at people I know making in the $50K-$75K household income range and they spend just as much if not more on food as compared to our spending at approx $250k household income.

Eating healthy to me means -> I get to control what is added to my food (fats, salts, etc) and selection of food. It is very difficult to find restaurants that will serve you steamed veggies as they are without pouring a pound of butter on it or cheese, or some sauce that just turns them into another high calorie, high fat, high salt food with low nutrition density per calorie. Getting filled up on high fat food to skip a meal is not even close to being healthy. You need nutrition density in your foods more than just hitting a calorie goal for the day.

I'm positive that I can out cook 95% of the restaurants I've been to with reasonably priced meals (say $35 per plate or less). I get a tastier meal, that is healthier and cheaper while enjoying the art of cooking. Seems like a win/win/win to me.

minimalistmarc
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by minimalistmarc » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:54 pm

juliewongferra wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:13 am
investingdad wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:02 am
My wife and I pretty much bring lunch from home to eat at the office every day. We've been doing this all of our respective 22 year careers to date.

I've noticed in my office, some people do the same as me. And others go to our cafeteria or get take out every, and I mean EVERY, day.

So I was curious what this could add up to and did some math.

- assume 235 days in the office each year
- we brown bag 95% of the time, so 220 bagged lunches each year
- I think we save about $4 per person, per lunch by doing this
- that's about $1800 savings a year

So that's not a huge amount of money, but wait...there's more.

- we've invested since day 1 of working
- reasonable for me to assume that saved money was invested
- at 6% a year returns, over 22 years, it sums up to $78,000

And...if that money stays in the portfolio and continues to grow another decade at 6% a year until we retire in our fifties, it's about $140,000.

Please pass me the sandwich. :)
So I agree with brown bagging your lunch, but let's not forget opportunity cost of having to make/prepare/cook the food and go shopping. (Sure, maybe you'll say that you're eating leftovers and they've been already cooked...but in this case, you're eating food for lunch that you could have had for dinner when you get home, so there is still an opportunity loss built into it.)

Remember, that you're not only buying the food. You're buying the labor, time, and effort it would take you to construct the actual item. This is true for whatever purchase we make: food, clothes, car, home, etc.

So it's not a strictly financial calculation!!

cheers,
jwf
Going out for lunch is usually very time consuming vs brown bagging it so it balances out a bit

AZAttorney11
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by AZAttorney11 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:59 pm

Slacker wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:40 pm
AZAttorney11 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:59 pm
Careful. Depending on your occupation and company, effectively using the lunch hour to network internally or externally can lead to substantially higher income down the road. There are costs to brown bagging your lunch on a daily basis (in terms of career opportunities). Some of the most successful executives I know use the lunch hour and coffee breaks to influence, build relationships, etc. And by investing their lunch hour wisely, they've earned substantially more than they would have saved by eating lunch for $1.62 a day.
Luckily, I work from home and don't have to worry about "networking". Furthermore, I'm pretty much at the top of my game unless I give up my work from home option and vie for a managerial position - something I'd never want to do.

However, when I used to work in the office I'd go out to eat lunch with coworkers at least 1 time a week. 10yrs ago I used to go out to eat with coworkers 2-3 times a week. Never personally saw any "networking" benefits.

My current career I achieved 100% through personal accomplishments and qualifications with zero networking assistance and it represents a near 125% increase in income over my prior engineering position (switched companies, sectors and moved across the country). I recognize the "idea" of networking as it is often touted, but it has never been a factor that amounted to much in my career (personal relationships with coworkers were a little different and just because I didn't go to lunch with someone doesn't mean we didn't still have engaging interactions at or after work).

Has networking played a significant role in your salary, career trajectory or opportunities?
Yes, it absolutely has. When I was younger and wanted to get introduced to the "powerful" partners at the law firm, getting to know them on a personal level over coffee, lunch, or drinks was critical when they needed a trusted associate to give up an evening or weekend for an important client. Positive reviews from the powerful partners meant more work, earlier access to court, earlier access to clients, and ultimately greater financial rewards.

From a business development point of view, meeting prospective and current clients over lunch and getting to know them, learning more about their business, its challenges, etc. is a great way of building those close, personal relationships that are critical to growing a sustainable book of business. This is, of course, much easier for extroverts than introverts, but the lunch hour is a valuable part of the day for many professionals from a business point of view.

And all of this talk about not being able to find healthy, wholesome meals at restaurants is garbage.

H-Town
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by H-Town » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:11 pm

AZAttorney11 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:59 pm

Yes, it absolutely has. When I was younger and wanted to get introduced to the "powerful" partners at the law firm, getting to know them on a personal level over coffee, lunch, or drinks was critical when they needed a trusted associate to give up an evening or weekend for an important client. Positive reviews from the powerful partners meant more work, earlier access to court, earlier access to clients, and ultimately greater financial rewards.

From a business development point of view, meeting prospective and current clients over lunch and getting to know them, learning more about their business, its challenges, etc. is a great way of building those close, personal relationships that are critical to growing a sustainable book of business. This is, of course, much easier for extroverts than introverts, but the lunch hour is a valuable part of the day for many professionals from a business point of view.

And all of this talk about not being able to find healthy, wholesome meals at restaurants is garbage.
I am fortunate that my firm reimburses cost of those lunches with partners and clients. I also get free lunch if I take out my coachees to lunch. Other than those lunches, I don't pay from my wallet to go eat out for lunch with co-workers. No offense to my co-workers, but it's a waste of my time and money.

Need to separate networking and eat out. Don't just go eat out and give it an excuse of "networking".

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randomizer
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by randomizer » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:16 pm

Sounds like a great idea, beaten only by a company that gives you free lunch at the company cafeteria (but that, you're paying for indirectly anyway, so the brown bag may still win out).
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Slacker
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Slacker » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:22 pm

AZAttorney11 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:59 pm
From a business development point of view, meeting prospective and current clients over lunch and getting to know them, learning more about their business, its challenges, etc. is a great way of building those close, personal relationships that are critical to growing a sustainable book of business. This is, of course, much easier for extroverts than introverts, but the lunch hour is a valuable part of the day for many professionals from a business point of view.
I would never tell a prospective client (if I had them in the classical sense of the term) that I can't meet them for lunch/dinner because I brought my own meal to work with me. I don't think those advocating for bringing their own lunch would likely do the same either.

I did try out for a sales type job when I first graduated from college - definitely wasn't for me, but expensing a high cost meal to the company sure was a nice perk.
And all of this talk about not being able to find healthy, wholesome meals at restaurants is garbage.
Completely depends on the group of people you go to lunch with. If you don't want to sit around eating a salad, few moderately priced restaurants have decently healthy options. If everyone wants to go get pizza -> you have very little hope of doing better than making a marginally less bad choice (for example).

I'd actually be a bit embarassed to take a client (or prospective client) out to a business meal and eat a salad with no dressing, kind of makes your company/firm look a bit poor that all they could afford to buy their employee was a salad. I was certainly lambasted for choosing water over alcohol at a business dinner in the past.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:29 pm

I think they are small ptotatoes category. I packed leftover sometimes, I packed food for dietary constraints, but not religiously. I go out to eat once in a while.

lightheir
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by lightheir » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:36 pm

I'll go ahead and one up all you brown baggers:

Here's a realistic lunch hour for me:

1. Swim for 45 minutes (or some other active workout)

2. Fast through lunch (yes, fasting isn't bad for you - there is a legit doctor who has written a whole book on the benefits of fasting). And I'm not at all a dainty eaters - I have a very big appetite (which I control), and I burn 700-1000 exercise calories per day, so I'm not some super sedate person, but fasting still works fine. Lightly grazing also works, like carrot sticks or a small pack of oatmeal.

Total cost: $0 :greedy
Health benefits of exercise: Priceless !
Likelihood of losing excess body weight: Good chances! :D

BanquetBeer
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by BanquetBeer » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:39 pm

Slacker wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:48 pm
I look at people I know making in the $50K-$75K household income range and they spend just as much if not more on food as compared to our spending at approx $250k household income.

Eating healthy to me means -> I get to control what is added to my food (fats, salts, etc) and selection of food. It is very difficult to find restaurants that will serve you steamed veggies as they are without pouring a pound of butter on it or cheese, or some sauce that just turns them into another high calorie, high fat, high salt food with low nutrition density per calorie. Getting filled up on high fat food to skip a meal is not even close to being healthy. You need nutrition density in your foods more than just hitting a calorie goal for the day.

I'm positive that I can out cook 95% of the restaurants I've been to with reasonably priced meals (say $35 per plate or less). I get a tastier meal, that is healthier and cheaper while enjoying the art of cooking. Seems like a win/win/win to me.
Don't think I have seen any research saying fat is bad for you. Fat is actually quite necessary in your diet. Salt has also had some interesting research as well.

Balanced diets are important but one meal a day should not define your diet. I don't have any problems getting economical low fat, high vegetable content (falafel salad) food and eat that roughly 40% of the time. I have probably 200 restaurants to choose from in a 15 minute walking radius so I have never felt constrained on options.

Cheese is a good source of calcium

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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by MFD » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:52 pm

I always brought lunch, or kept supplies to make lunch in the company refrigerator. Most of my co-workers did as well. Usually we would go out for a Friday lunch and beer once or twice a month. No difference in networking or promotion opportunities either way. I did feel I would eat better by preparing my food ahead of time, i guess I have better self-control when I'm not hungry. Now that I work from home, I eat out for lunch more often, usually combined with other errands and my daily walk.

As far as financial benefit, not eating out for lunch is just one of many ways to reduce costs. Doing so, combined with not buying soda/fancy coffee drinks, (an aeropress works great), minimizing costs for cable, phone, house, etc. can in aggregate significantly boost your savings. It seems like most people have something they are unwilling to give up, but can cut costs in the other ways.

Lightheir, I think you're missing the point, but perhaps the question should have been "is it really worth it to not go out for lunch at a restaurant". Since you are not eating out for lunch, I'd put you in the "brown bag" category. The amount of exercise one gets in a day seems unrelated to the topic, and I've been trying to gain weight not lose it. :D

Slacker
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Slacker » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:56 pm

BanquetBeer wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:39 pm
Slacker wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:48 pm
I look at people I know making in the $50K-$75K household income range and they spend just as much if not more on food as compared to our spending at approx $250k household income.

Eating healthy to me means -> I get to control what is added to my food (fats, salts, etc) and selection of food. It is very difficult to find restaurants that will serve you steamed veggies as they are without pouring a pound of butter on it or cheese, or some sauce that just turns them into another high calorie, high fat, high salt food with low nutrition density per calorie. Getting filled up on high fat food to skip a meal is not even close to being healthy. You need nutrition density in your foods more than just hitting a calorie goal for the day.

I'm positive that I can out cook 95% of the restaurants I've been to with reasonably priced meals (say $35 per plate or less). I get a tastier meal, that is healthier and cheaper while enjoying the art of cooking. Seems like a win/win/win to me.
Don't think I have seen any research saying fat is bad for you. Fat is actually quite necessary in your diet. Salt has also had some interesting research as well.

Balanced diets are important but one meal a day should not define your diet. I don't have any problems getting economical low fat, high vegetable content (falafel salad) food and eat that roughly 40% of the time. I have probably 200 restaurants to choose from in a 15 minute walking radius so I have never felt constrained on options.

Cheese is a good source of calcium
Yes, I agree that fat is essential to your diet. However, the sources of that fat are pertinent. Granted, fatty foods can be nutrient dense (egg yolk, liver) that is not typically what you are getting out of a lunch meal at a restaurant that is high in fat and if you displace nutrient dense foods because you "consumed all your calories in high fat foods" that will have a negative overall impact. I have looked into the issue before, but it is very tiring for me to look through all the NIH documents right now (never bothered to bookmark any).

I suppose one additional item of note is that dietary needs and metabolization is individual specific as well where you can easily be outside of a studied groups norm. However, basic guidelines (eat nutrient rich foods such as vegetables and fruits, some proteins, and the remainder with fats and carbs to "top off") seems to be supported in the literature I have read on the subject. If you do search for it, make sure the studies were done over greater periods than 8 weeks -> the body is remarkably adaptable but in the first 4-6 weeks of a significant change in diet can make it look like your health is declining as your body adjusts (LDL, HDL, triglycerides, etc) to the new diet from what I've seen in said studies.

slowbutsteady
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by slowbutsteady » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:07 pm

I don't brown bag because I can neither deal with the extra effort of preparing the brown bag nor the hassle of carrying the bag/bowls with me, but my behavior and expenses mimic those who do. I discovered a cheap but healthy menu in the cafeteria for under $2.5 and have stuck to it for years. My attitude towards food is more functional than savory, so that may explain part of my behavior as well.

I notice a few other senior staffers eat a similar menu and I ponder whether they are Boggleheads or FIRE minded folks too. For context, it costs between $8-12 for a decent meal in my cafeteria and a bit more outside. I see many (especially younger staff) ring up those $8-12 bills daily, and I sometimes marvel. But who am I to judge?

Per networking, I often do this over coffee or tea. And those are free and ubiquitous in the office. BTW, I do take my teams out for networking and pay for or expense the bill.

I have not calculated or compounded the savings, but the monthly impact is self evident: my lunch-at-work budget/expense is about $50 a month.

It's a choice. I just prefer to use that money for something else.
The tortoise wins every time I read that story.

lightheir
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by lightheir » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:10 pm

MFD wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:52 pm
I always brought lunch, or kept supplies to make lunch in the company refrigerator. Most of my co-workers did as well. Usually we would go out for a Friday lunch and beer once or twice a month. No difference in networking or promotion opportunities either way. I did feel I would eat better by preparing my food ahead of time, i guess I have better self-control when I'm not hungry. Now that I work from home, I eat out for lunch more often, usually combined with other errands and my daily walk.

As far as financial benefit, not eating out for lunch is just one of many ways to reduce costs. Doing so, combined with not buying soda/fancy coffee drinks, (an aeropress works great), minimizing costs for cable, phone, house, etc. can in aggregate significantly boost your savings. It seems like most people have something they are unwilling to give up, but can cut costs in the other ways.

Lightheir, I think you're missing the point, but perhaps the question should have been "is it really worth it to not go out for lunch at a restaurant". Since you are not eating out for lunch, I'd put you in the "brown bag" category. The amount of exercise one gets in a day seems unrelated to the topic, and I've been trying to gain weight not lose it. :D
I'll still put exercising over lunch as wayyy better and healthier than brown-bagging it and not exercising!

Of course, it's a nice luxury to have a schedule and employer that allows this, but I only get one hour off and have no gym or shower on site, and I still make it work, and have no special dispensations at work that make it any easier, so folks bemoaning their lack of exercise, upwards creeping weight, and cost of purchased lunch, should seriously think if they can integrate this into their lunchtime routine.

It's a win on all fronts.

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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by Ron Ronnerson » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:15 pm

Time is the bigger constraint for me. It takes time to go out to lunch and our cafeteria at work serves food I'd rather not eat. So I bring something from home the vast majority of time. I am going out to dinner with a coworker today since we have a four hour break. This isn't usually the case, though. Also, since I carpool, I can't leave on the days that I don't have my car. While it takes time to prepare the lunches and wash tupperware in the evenings, lunches are less stressful since I don't have to go anywhere and then hurry back. Also, the savings over a lifetime do add up. There isn't a negative impact on my career for brown-bagging in my field.

likegarden
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by likegarden » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:37 pm

I mostly brought lunch from home, put it into a refrigerator in the office. This way lunch was relaxing, let me remove some of the stress, recharge for work in the afternoon.

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