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

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
squirm
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by squirm » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:27 pm

I make all of our lunches, everyday. No enriched bread, all whole wheat, lunch meat without no nitrates, fruits, carrots, etc. Why better than eating out even if eating out was cheaper.

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

Post by squirm » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:29 pm

mak1277 wrote:
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 ...
Old friend use to work there, after he told me his stories, we stopped eating there 10 years ago.

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.

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

Post by Suman » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:31 pm

Beyond the cost savings, where from will I get a fresh cheese sandwich, 6 chapatis, onion paratha, 2 different vegetables dishes and chicken curry daily? Nothing like home cooked food.

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corner559
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by corner559 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:35 pm

I hate cooking and making lunch. It's worth it for me to not make my lunch and just eat out where I want and try new places with coworkers.

I can't think of anything I'd rather NOT do than eat a dull lunch made by me while sitting in the office.

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

Post by squirm » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:49 pm

My wife and I always dreaded the ol eating out with co-workers...my favorite lunch time is to eat a homemade lunch while reading the WSJ, alone...Wife says at her work, she eats the lunches I make, in her office and closes the door...she hates eating with co-workers too. She's trying to get out of the birthday lunches now...Fortunately we don't do those at my place.

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

Post by skylar » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:14 pm

silverlitegs wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:06 am
Great post on the financial savings. I bring my lunch to work almost everyday. One downside is networking. Do you feel not going out with everyone you are impeding your career?
I bring lunch almost everyday as well. I actually find that I'm more temperamentally compatible with the other people that bring lunch than the ones who go out to lunch everyday. I consider lunch to be my own time (though I'm happy discussing work-related stuff if it comes up), and if I want to network I'll do it during work hours.

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

Post by music_man » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:20 pm

I almost never brown bag it and eat out for lunch just about every day. This is one of those areas I like to just splurge on (by splurge, I don't mean I eat out at expensive restaurants every day, but I splurge as in eating out every day). I also like to get out and walk around. I've looked at the numbers and in the grand scheme it's really not that much - - $1,800 - $2,000 a year. I already max out all my retirement accounts as well as save a lot in a taxable account, so I look at eating out daily as "living a little".

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joe8d
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by joe8d » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:23 pm

Brown Bagged all my life, school and work.
All the Best, | Joe

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

Post by miamivice » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:20 pm

It really depends on how much you make.

Right after college, I took a temp job before starting my career. I was paid something like $1 an hour, or about $70 a day after taxes. Spending $10 or $15 to go out to eat was a large part of my earnings, so it was valuable then.

Once I started my actually career, I got a pay bump. But there were student loans to pay off, furniture to purchase, cars to maintain, etc. So that $1800 a year could either go into lunch or it could go into a 401k, which was would receive the company match. By not eating out, I was able to save for retirement at 23 years old which my dad was mighty proud of. (It wasn't a huge amount each year but enough to get the full company match).

Today, I agree it's pretty small. I make about $140-$160k, so maybe $2k a year in eating out isn't huge. But I'd rather spend the money on other things rather than lunch, so making lunch allows me to afford other luxuries instead.

Also, a +1 on it being more healthy.

Finally, I don't understand why KlangFool had to bring up being house poor. Eating in or eating out has nothing to do with the size of one's mortgage payment.

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

Post by JBTX » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:30 pm

I've never brown bagged it. Maybe cafeteria, or go out with friends, or take a quick jaunt to fast food. If it is me on my own, I'm out and back pretty quickly. It is just a way for me to break up the day. When I do fast food I usually make *comparatively* healthy choices, at least by fast food standards, and get by on $5-$6.

I'm not sure what I would make/bring if I brown bagged it. Eating PBJ is like eating a candy bar. A cold cut sandwich is pretty meh. I don't want to be one of those stinking up the whole department warming up fish in the break room either.

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

Post by EddyB » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:47 pm

Reading the replies on both sides of the issue has given me another reason to be glad I work from home, and the realisation that I still benefit from the high school and college years I spent working in a range of restaurant kitchens.

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TD2626
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by TD2626 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:15 am

This is the kind of thing that is very much worth it in my opinion. The little small savings, added up over days and years and decades, and compounded with stock market investment returns, are what really make a difference.

Investment returns are important, but savings rate has larger effect on the portfolio's size in most situations.

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

Post by queso » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:51 am

I brown bag every day I don't have lunch meetings (usually 3-4x per week). There is a small group of folks at my level that spontaneously decide to go out to lunch to discuss some important item of business or a crisis so I generally bring things that won't go bad if I eat them a day later since I think it is a bad career move to skip these kinds of impromptu lunches. If I brought a sandwich or leftovers I'll go anyway and then just eat my sandwich/leftovers for dinner. Other times I'll suggest that they go out and pick up carryout or call in delivery while I grab a conference room and we'll have our lunch meeting that way. Then I get to eat my brown bag food and still attend the meeting. As others have mentioned, I primarily do it for health reasons as there aren't a lot of smart choices around my office and I am terrible at making smart choices at restaurants even if they are offered.

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

Post by alfaspider » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:58 am

If an extra $75k at retirement makes or breaks me, my retirement plans have already gone terribly wrong. 22 years of Turkey sandwiches isn't worth that sort of money to me. Others may reasonably feel differently. I'm more interested in saving on the big-ticket items- housing and transportation.

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

Post by LarryAllen » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:09 am

Also if one is in a "sales" or variable income type job one may make more money not wasting time by driving somewhere for lunch. Let's say I take a half hour lunch a day instead of one hour, eat at my desk 4 days a week, so 2 hours a week is saved, times 50, x my hourly rate = a lot of money. The counter point would be it's good to take a long relaxing lunch break and/or network with someone at lunch. However, I really like eating at my desk and perusing interesting websites... like this one! :)

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

Post by katzmandu » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:49 am

Reading through all these comments it seems everyone simply needs to decide for themselves how long they prefer to sit behind or a desk or have to work before reaching FI/RE. If you brown bag all the time, no issues cooking, etc, and saving to the max you can, you'll finish sooner than someone how doesn't (based on investments, market returns, yadda yadda).

The main issue is people are different...some love to cook, some can only cook a little, some need that takeout/restaurant lunch to keep them sane, etc. Its all in the choices we make.

I cook everything I eat both for health and efficiency/savings reasons. They out too much junk in snacks and prepared food to make it palatable for the masses. I spend, between breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, etc, somewhere between $7-9 for everything. I work with colleagues who bring in their $3-4 breakfast between coffee/danish and then order out a $17 lunch and then go home and spend G-d knows how much on dinner, not to mention snacks/drinks. Costs can get out of control quickly without people realizing, since they're on autopilot. Then I have to sit here listening about how they aren't making enough or things are tight. Ack!

I don't plan on sitting behind my desk one day more than is necessarily and I'm willing to do the things one needs to do to ensure that, this being one them. There is zero way that spending $3300/yr on food and padding that $700 for the occasional restaurant or treat will not get me out sooner over the next 10-15 years than others spending $30-40 a day on just themselves, not that I'm competing with them. I didn't do the match, but I'm sure this is shaving at least a year off my working life... a 'sacrifice' I'm fine with since I'm an excellent cook and I don't consider it hardship to cook, eat healthily and to be able to invest the difference.

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

Post by Robconoclast » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:16 am

Wife and I are brown baggers due to health issues and budgeting. Over the past 6 years I've watched most new guys in my department (usual new hire is between the age of 24-30) order out the first few months until they realize how much they are spending on a weekly basis, or enroll in our 401k (usually their first time putting money aside for retirement) and a portion of their income starts going elsewhere.
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by stoptothink » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:39 am

lightheir wrote:
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
As professionals in the health/medical sphere and serious athletes, you and I are always on the same page when it comes to these topics. I don't brown bag, I practice intermittent fasting as well. It's also a topic I have written extensively about (no primary peer-reviewed research...yet). If you want to talk about networking, which I think is a bizarre rationalization (but hey, I don't know everybody else's work environment), my "lunch break" is spent in my corporate gym, usually chatting it up with 3 of the 4 founders of my multi-billion dollar company in between sets; including my boss, our CMO and one of the founders, who I have assisted in dropping 35lbs. since the beginning of this year. I know every VP at our 4,000+ employee global campus pretty well due to being in that gym at lunch. I guess the moral of the story is that you have to know your environment.

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

Post by SGM » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:14 am

I brown bagged off and on for many years. I did enjoy occasionally going out with coworkers. In two positions I bought a lot of state of the art equipment and allowed sales persons to take me and others out to lunch. I learned a lot at these lunch meetings and ate at a lot of fun places I would have otherwise missed. In my last big corporation job I started on December 31st and the cafeteria served some of the best prime rib I have ever had and at a reasonable price so I no longer brown bagged it. Lunch was a good time to meet with colleagues and discuss ways I could help the company bottom line.

I knew a physicist who rode a bicycle to work daily, took cold showers, didn't heat the house or paint the house, slept on a mattress on the floor, brown bagged it, foraged for lost golf balls on a river bend, and used well water rather than pay for the municipal water. His goal was to sell his tear-down cottage to a developer who would replace it with a mansion so that he could retire early to a farm he planned to purchase in Maine. One day I drove by and noticed his cottage was replaced by a mansion and the physicist was long gone along with all the golf balls that littered the back acre or two. That is not my way to live but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

new2bogle
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by new2bogle » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:17 am

It's not so much worth it money wise.

I do it for health - eating out everyday I noticed was not good for me. Now, I eat out once every two weeks or so. Our office also has free sodas. I don't partake in that either.

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

Post by nedsaid » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:27 am

I brown bag my lunch at work and have done that for years. When I spent $8 for a toasted cheese sandwich, soup, and a drink; that pretty well cured me. Just too much to spend day after day.
A fool and his money are good for business.

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

Post by fareastwarriors » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:02 pm

*delete*
Last edited by fareastwarriors on Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Admiral » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:08 pm

I love to cook and lunch is easy when there are leftovers, which there usually are. Unless it was for a meeting, I have not eaten out for lunch in 10 years (except when I forgot to bring my lunch bag).

I mainly do it because I'd rather spend that hour outside walking, or at the gym. We eat healthy dinners, so that makes my lunches much healthier that what I could buy.

The cost savings does add up, but that's not why I do it. That is, however, why I don't buy coffee by the cup at Starbucks.

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

Post by rmelvey » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:09 pm

I have cut down on cooking because I am single so i find my groceries end up going bad. I never know if I am going to end up staying late for work so it's hard for me to meal plan during the week. Also cooking for one is not as efficient... Luckily NYC has tons of options for eating out, so i can always eat something healthy if I want to

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

Post by stoptothink » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:14 pm

fareastwarriors wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:02 pm
I'm being judgmental but I don't understand how some people eat the Same lunch everyday for like 20/30 years. Routines are good but wow oh wow. I bring my lunch like 3 times a week.
If you can't or are not interested in doing it yourself, great. But, with the possible health and financial benefits, how can you judge someone negatively who can eat the same thing every day? As someone who can and does, it is simply a difference in how you view food (as fuel as opposed to a source of pleasure).

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

Post by mak1277 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:13 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:14 pm
... it is simply a difference in how you view food (as fuel as opposed to a source of pleasure).

Yes! This is such an important point, and one I was thinking about earlier today when reading through the responses here. Personally, food is a huge source of pleasure for me. Like everyone, there are times when I eat meals just because I need fuel, but I try and avoid that at all costs. I don't like to eat anything that is boring or that doesn't taste good.

For the record, in case anyone fact checks me vs. my prior posts in this thread, yes, I do think that taco bell offers food that is delicious...try a potato-rito...just do it!!

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

Post by Leemiller » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:46 pm

I got my last job through a lead that came over lunch. Meantime I was interviewing for another job that I heard about over lunch. Today I got some useful company info over lunch. But I think I'd weigh less if I was preparing my lunch daily.

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

Post by mnnice » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:39 pm

ladders11 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:00 pm
What is more compelling is trying to half brown bag. Has anyone tried this? Lets say you buy some of those individual potato chip packs. Buy yourself a case of soda, water, or juice. Then, you get a sandwich (only) from a restaurant and eat the chips you have conveniently stored in your trunk. Fries or chips and a drink are probably the most marked-up items at these restaurants, and the easiest to exactly reproduce with like kind and quality.

A can of soda is $0.35 in a case and chips $0.30. Chips and a drink at Subway costs $2.50. So, I'd bet you save $1.85 per day doing this meaning $462.50 at work 50 weeks of the year. How much time spent? Practically none, just get the chips on your normal grocery run and leave them in your trunk, you don't even need to unpack them.
For a time my DH would buy lunch supplies for the week at the grocery store on Monday. He did this in part because I would hog the chips otherwise.

I work in a grocery store and often bring leftovers. If it's too skimpy I buy more.

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

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:58 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:14 pm
fareastwarriors wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:02 pm
I'm being judgmental but I don't understand how some people eat the Same lunch everyday for like 20/30 years. Routines are good but wow oh wow. I bring my lunch like 3 times a week.
If you can't or are not interested in doing it yourself, great. But, with the possible health and financial benefits, how can you judge someone negatively who can eat the same thing every day? As someone who can and does, it is simply a difference in how you view food (as fuel as opposed to a source of pleasure).
stoptothink,

I agree with you about the differences in viewing food. I am firmly in the camp of those who "eat to live," NOT "live to eat." But I also "eat to socialize" because I am surrounded by a strong culture of socializing around food.

By the way, many posters claim that they bring their own lunch because it's healthy, but the descriptions of their lunches are antitheses of healthy.

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

Post by BanquetBeer » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:08 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:14 pm
fareastwarriors wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:02 pm
I'm being judgmental but I don't understand how some people eat the Same lunch everyday for like 20/30 years. Routines are good but wow oh wow. I bring my lunch like 3 times a week.
If you can't or are not interested in doing it yourself, great. But, with the possible health and financial benefits, how can you judge someone negatively who can eat the same thing every day? As someone who can and does, it is simply a difference in how you view food (as fuel as opposed to a source of pleasure).
Everything is good in moderation. Friend in college was selling blood to get by. Was rejected for too much chicken specific proteins in his blood. Eating the same thing all the time doesn't sound that healthy to me.

Of all the fat people I see, it never seems to be a meal that causes the problems. It's the juice cleanses (150gram sugar), or the cookies, or the moca-frape-late shake, or frosty. Sure the high cal meals or tv marathons don't help things along.... these days there is a rise of skinny-fat people. (High body fat % even though they do not weigh much on bmi scale).

My biggest and heaviest meal is at lunch followed by some caffeinated tea. One meal per day isn't going to define your health - your lifestyle will. To me lunch make or breaking my health is like trying to retire on a minimum budget with no wiggle room.

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

Post by CyclingDuo » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:32 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. :)
Peanut Butter sandwich (That's Smart 40 ounce crunchy jar costs me $3.99, 2 slices of Brownberry Oatnut Bread, one apple, and I bring my own water bottle to fill up).

20 cents for a spoonful of PB + $1 for 2 slices of premium bread + 47 cents for the apple = $1.67 per day for my lunch (M/T/W/Th/F)

Compared to eating at Subway, Jimmy John's, or the local Deli - where my cost for fruit, bottled water, and a sandwich would easily be $8-10.

I have been doing this for years, and it saves me $6 - 8 per day. That's $1320 - $1760 per year.

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

Post by mak1277 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:21 am

CyclingDuo wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:32 pm

20 cents for a spoonful of PB + $1 for 2 slices of premium bread + 47 cents for the apple = $1.67 per day for my lunch (M/T/W/Th/F)
What's your targeted daily caloric intake? If I ate what you described at noon I'd be hungry again at 1:30. Do you snack all day in addition to that "lunch"?

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

Post by gloss151 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:42 am

I just water fast until 6pm on weekdays. total cost $0. Prior to this radical lifestyle, i just grabbed a tin of sardines and an avocado before heading out the door in the morning, which is $2-3 worth of food. I think its worth it because you can waste a lot of time walking to a cafeteria, waiting for the food to be prepared, checking out, walking back.
Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something. -Thoreau

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

Post by CyclingDuo » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:48 am

mak1277 wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:21 am
CyclingDuo wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:32 pm

20 cents for a spoonful of PB + $1 for 2 slices of premium bread + 47 cents for the apple = $1.67 per day for my lunch (M/T/W/Th/F)
What's your targeted daily caloric intake? If I ate what you described at noon I'd be hungry again at 1:30. Do you snack all day in addition to that "lunch"?
Lunch is usually about 430-450 calories. Daily target is usually around 1700-1800. More if I exercise.

No, I don't snack during the work day. Some days I get a cup of black coffee around 3. If I go out for a ride after work, I'll take a snack.

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

Post by topper1296 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:54 am

I try to strike a balance. I work from home one day a week, so I eat at home that day. The other 4 days, I usually bring my lunch 3 days and then go out once a week with friends. I think it is healthy to get out of the office at least once a week both mentally and physically since I always walk somewhere when I go out.

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

Post by markcoop » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:27 am

I get the salad bar at my cafeteria almost every day. I usually put a ton of veggies and mix it up every day. Cost is between $7-$8 dollars. To bring a similar lunch would involve lots of chopping and probably not save a whole lot (a pound of veggies is not so cheap). If I didn't have that option, I'd probably bring my lunch more often.
Mark

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

Post by LiterallyIronic » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:37 am

alfaspider wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:58 am
If an extra $75k at retirement makes or breaks me, my retirement plans have already gone terribly wrong.
I don't follow. Isn't the $75k the very definition of your retirement plans? For example, I intend to retire when I have $600,000 and a paid off house. Now, if I have $525,000 and a paid off house (taking away that $75k you scoffed at), that means I can't retire yet.

Whatever your number is, you can retire when you get to that number, but you can't retire if you have that number minus $75k. Isn't that the very definition of making or breaking your retirement?

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

Post by onourway » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:38 am

I don't let my kids buy school lunch every day so there is no way I'm going to eat out every day either. It takes me about 10 minutes to make lunch for the whole family every morning. And I know exactly what they are eating.

My lunch time is for me to go for a run or a bike ride (where the real 'networking' in our office is done), or to run a few errands that have to be done during business hours. Besides the cost, it's an utter waste of time for me to leave the office to go find something to eat when I can be done in 10 minutes while working at my desk.

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

Post by Church Lady » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:46 am

The economics of brown bagging just don't work out, at least where I was working until I retired this year. For example, the cost of premium bagged salad at the grocery was the same per oz at the same type of greens at the salad bar at work. Only toppings were marked up, and I didn't have bagged salad wilting in my lunch box! The cost of buying breakfast at the cafe was 40 cents more than the grocery cost. Forty cents -- big frigging deal! I probably spend that much washing the dishes. Lunch mains and sides were about the cost of microwave food which is what I would bring when brown bagging. (Actually, some of the servers doled out vegetables like they were worth their weight in gold. We learned to avoid those servers :) ).

What really paid off was bringing my own beverages to work: coffee, tea, soda, water. The other big savings was avoiding the after-work department trip to Happy Hour :wink:

YMMV.
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:8

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

Post by mak1277 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:54 am

onourway wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:38 am
I don't let my kids buy school lunch every day so there is no way I'm going to eat out every day either. It takes me about 10 minutes to make lunch for the whole family every morning. And I know exactly what they are eating.
Maybe this is where my issue originated...I never brown bagged to school either. I was given money to buy lunch every day from K-12. I absolutely *hated* field trips where we had to bring a bag lunch.

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

Post by cantos » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:07 am

I'm surprised by the number of brown baggers here. I eat out virtually every meal for lunch. 99% of the time vegan and healthy food - don't be fooled and think this is salads. Plenty of delicious curries, soups, etc. Think chick pea curries, lentil soups and stews, falafels, pad thais. Absolutely delicious. I exercise about 3x/week during lunch. Work out, then grab lunch to go. Other times it's lunch with colleagues and other people in my industry. Health-wise I'm fine - I'm the oldest guy by far - at least 2x the age - than the young adults I play pick up basketball with at the local university, and I more than hold my own. I constantly get compliments and surprise when people find out my age, thinking I am 10 years younger.

The networking is invaluable. I have had lunch with many many people from CEOs, chairs of boards, etc., and down the employment chain. I find that lunch has been an excellent way to improve my social skills, make connections, learn about job opps, new information/news in the industry, helps me stay on top.

I find that those that don't hone their networking skills in some way - be it lunch, or, as one of the above posters working out with c-suite folks - they get stuck in their jobs and are unhappy. For me, anyway, lunch out is not just tasty, but totally worth it. I know some folks who make it a point to have lunch with someone everyday - they are very successful.

While lots of Bogleheaders are savers - and we see you all posting here - I think there are also lots on the other hand that find that the so-called lost savings are more than made up for by the investment in career/networking. Saving $75k by brown bagging? Chump change in the long run - if you save by eating lunch at home and drive a Lexus, that's a wash - penny wise and pound foolish, etc. Eating out for lunch is nowhere near the same kind of "savings" as buying a cheaper car, living in an LCOL, or staying in one house and never moving. For those that are poor at social skills, brown bagging it, not exercising, and not having another way to force yourself to network, can be detrimental to your career and cost you millions.

You go ahead and save your $75k, brown baggers. This one would rather make millions in his career and invaluable network built up over years of lunching (and coffee, and dinner, etc) with others.
Last edited by cantos on Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by stoptothink » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:08 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:58 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:14 pm
fareastwarriors wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:02 pm
I'm being judgmental but I don't understand how some people eat the Same lunch everyday for like 20/30 years. Routines are good but wow oh wow. I bring my lunch like 3 times a week.
If you can't or are not interested in doing it yourself, great. But, with the possible health and financial benefits, how can you judge someone negatively who can eat the same thing every day? As someone who can and does, it is simply a difference in how you view food (as fuel as opposed to a source of pleasure).
stoptothink,

I agree with you about the differences in viewing food. I am firmly in the camp of those who "eat to live," NOT "live to eat." But I also "eat to socialize" because I am surrounded by a strong culture of socializing around food.

By the way, many posters claim that they bring their own lunch because it's healthy, but the descriptions of their lunches are antitheses of healthy.

Victoria
I am clearly an outlier. I do not eat to socialize. Just an opinion, as an obesity researcher, but that cultural norm is one of the primary factors in our obesogenic environment - again, my opinion. My lack of interest in eating out isn't solely about health, I also derive no pleasure from it. My wife is the same way, possibly slightly less extreme as she'll occasionally (maybe once a month) ride along with co-workers and pick-up a salad. It simply doesn't increase my quality of life at all (totally outside of the financial, health, and time costs). On the other hand, we have people over for dinner at our home all the time, but what we eat in my home is probably not what most people eat when they have people over for dinner.

michaeljc70
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Re: Is it really Worth it to brown bag your lunch at work?

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:14 am

I've always ate lunch out. If I'm working I like to get out of the office. I don't particularly like leftovers or cold sandwiches/salads. Sure it costs more, but I spend pretty frugally on most other things.

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

Post by alfaspider » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:30 am

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:37 am
alfaspider wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:58 am
If an extra $75k at retirement makes or breaks me, my retirement plans have already gone terribly wrong.
I don't follow. Isn't the $75k the very definition of your retirement plans? For example, I intend to retire when I have $600,000 and a paid off house. Now, if I have $525,000 and a paid off house (taking away that $75k you scoffed at), that means I can't retire yet.

Whatever your number is, you can retire when you get to that number, but you can't retire if you have that number minus $75k. Isn't that the very definition of making or breaking your retirement?
My number is more like $5 million. By the time I am nearing that number, $75k will be within plausible monthly market fluctuations. I also don't have a hard cutoff number for a literal retirement. If things go as planned, my exact date will be determined by personal and professional considerations rather than financial considerations.
Last edited by alfaspider on Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by KlangFool » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:38 am

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:37 am
alfaspider wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:58 am
If an extra $75k at retirement makes or breaks me, my retirement plans have already gone terribly wrong.
I don't follow. Isn't the $75k the very definition of your retirement plans? For example, I intend to retire when I have $600,000 and a paid off house. Now, if I have $525,000 and a paid off house (taking away that $75k you scoffed at), that means I can't retire yet.

Whatever your number is, you can retire when you get to that number, but you can't retire if you have that number minus $75k. Isn't that the very definition of making or breaking your retirement?
LiterallyIronic,

I save 30+% of my gross income and about 50+% of my net income. Then, I spend the rest. I eat out regularly. For people in my income level, eat out does not matter. In fact, in many cases, the luxury car (50K) does not matter either. It is the big expensive house that kills the savings. After that, the person could brown bag their lunches and drive an old used car, they still have lower saving rate than I do.

The annual median household income in my area is 150K.

KlangFool

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

Post by open_circuit » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:39 am

mak1277 wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:54 am
onourway wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:38 am
I don't let my kids buy school lunch every day so there is no way I'm going to eat out every day either. It takes me about 10 minutes to make lunch for the whole family every morning. And I know exactly what they are eating.
Maybe this is where my issue originated...I never brown bagged to school either. I was given money to buy lunch every day from K-12. I absolutely *hated* field trips where we had to bring a bag lunch.
Sounds reasonable. I brown-bagged to school since kindergarten, and continue the habit as I approach middle-age. It's easier for me to pack lunch than to go find food every day. I like to limit the number of decisions I have to make, especially when I am hungry. I learned long ago that I make bad food decisions when I'm hungry, and I prefer a set routine. It's not for everyone, but it works for me.

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

Post by mak1277 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:48 am

open_circuit wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:39 am
mak1277 wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:54 am
onourway wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:38 am
I don't let my kids buy school lunch every day so there is no way I'm going to eat out every day either. It takes me about 10 minutes to make lunch for the whole family every morning. And I know exactly what they are eating.
Maybe this is where my issue originated...I never brown bagged to school either. I was given money to buy lunch every day from K-12. I absolutely *hated* field trips where we had to bring a bag lunch.
Sounds reasonable. I brown-bagged to school since kindergarten, and continue the habit as I approach middle-age. It's easier for me to pack lunch than to go find food every day. I like to limit the number of decisions I have to make, especially when I am hungry. I learned long ago that I make bad food decisions when I'm hungry, and I prefer a set routine. It's not for everyone, but it works for me.
It also helps that there are no fewer than 10 places for lunch within a 2 minute walk of my office.

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

Post by VictoriaF » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:50 am

stoptothink wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:08 am
VictoriaF wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:58 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:14 pm
fareastwarriors wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:02 pm
I'm being judgmental but I don't understand how some people eat the Same lunch everyday for like 20/30 years. Routines are good but wow oh wow. I bring my lunch like 3 times a week.
If you can't or are not interested in doing it yourself, great. But, with the possible health and financial benefits, how can you judge someone negatively who can eat the same thing every day? As someone who can and does, it is simply a difference in how you view food (as fuel as opposed to a source of pleasure).
stoptothink,

I agree with you about the differences in viewing food. I am firmly in the camp of those who "eat to live," NOT "live to eat." But I also "eat to socialize" because I am surrounded by a strong culture of socializing around food.

By the way, many posters claim that they bring their own lunch because it's healthy, but the descriptions of their lunches are antitheses of healthy.

Victoria
I am clearly an outlier. I do not eat to socialize. Just an opinion, as an obesity researcher, but that cultural norm is one of the primary factors in our obesogenic environment - again, my opinion. My lack of interest in eating out isn't solely about health, I also derive no pleasure from it. My wife is the same way, possibly slightly less extreme as she'll occasionally (maybe once a month) ride along with co-workers and pick-up a salad. It simply doesn't increase my quality of life at all (totally outside of the financial, health, and time costs). On the other hand, we have people over for dinner at our home all the time, but what we eat in my home is probably not what most people eat when they have people over for dinner.
I agree that the cultural norm to socialize around food is a significant factor in the obesity. I just can't fight it. If I want to socialize with certain people, I'll do it around food if I have to. When I can, I choose the most acceptable to me food. Thus, I prefer to socialize in restaurants that offer choice than at dinner parties. If I am ambivalent about the company, I may skip the event.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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

Post by tj » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:00 am

I started bringing a soylent 2.0 into work for lunch. They are about $3 per bottle. Beats going out for $8. Save sone wear n tear on my car too.

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

Post by Cloudy » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:03 am

I make something in a slow cooker every Sunday to provide 4-5 lunches for the week. I try to limit carbs, so this is usually heavy on meats and vegetables. It runs around 15-20 dollars for the pot.

I enjoy it as much or more than foods out, and it is typically healthier than the places I would go. Some people may not be able to eat the same meal several days in a row, but it works for me.

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