To The Person Who Buys Their Lunch Every Day

Dear repeat offender who overuses the “I didn’t have time to make my lunch last night” excuse that everyone around you is sick of hearing — especially your wallet,

Before we get rolling on this rant ridden blog post that I call stop-wasting-your-money-in-foolish-ways, let me preface this by saying that:

  1. I don’t care if you don’t like what I have to say.
  2. Making your lunch is not hard.
  3. No one is buying it. Well, except you that is.

Listen, I get it. Taking time out of your limited evening and television binging hours seems unfair. After all, you spend more time with your co-workers than you do with your couch. It’s asking a lot for you to cut some vegetables, pull out some ziploc bags, and actually use what’s left of your brain power to come up with a lunch you’ll want to eat. Tomorrow.

However, what’s asking even more is avoiding a good habit, and replacing it with one that’s forcing your budget to its limit.

Nine out of ten times when I try to tell people who never bring their lunch that it’s going to save them a ton of money, help their mental and physical health, and honestly, give you more time to actually eat — they scoff. Yeah, I can’t believe it either. People actually scoff at me.

WHATEVER.

Whether you think you’re spending a reasonable amount of money each day dining out, I can beat you every time.

What $10 gets you from popular restaurant(s):

McDonald’s

  • 6-Piece Nuggets
  • Medium Fries
  • Medium Drink
  • Apple Pie
Subway

  • 12 Inch Basic Sub
  • Bag of Chips or 2 Cookies
  • Medium Drink
Taco Bell

  • 6 Burritos
  • Medium Drink

What $10 gets you from homemade lunch:

  • Quinoa Salad w/ Lemon Juice & Hummus
  • Bowl of Soup
  • Loaded Sandwich or Wrap
  • Granola Bar or Yogurt
  • Banana or Apple

I could literally make three lunches with $10. You could buy an entire meal from your favorite fast food restaurant and still be hungry. Sucks, doesn’t it? Oh, by the way — if you want to eat healthy, you better add another five to 10 dollars to that total.

Since I know there will be some of you who are still on the “buy-my-lunch-if-I-wanna” train, let me spend the next few minutes debunking every excuse you can throw my way. After all, I think it’ll be as easy as you are lazy.

 josh gad GIF

1. My social life depends on it.

That’s cute — but no one is going to disown you if you suddenly want to make a smart financial decision and up your physical health. If you tell them confidently “I’m on a budget and I’m working towards a fitness goal”, it’ll likely challenge them to do the same. Just like that, you might end up with a couple other buddies to keep you accountable. Simple, but true.

2. I hate cooking, and I’m not very creative.

Newsflash: making your lunch doesn’t even need to entertain cooking if you don’t want it to. Go raw and make a vegetable platter for the ages. Stick to meat and cheese. Think back to the lunch kits mama used to pack you. As for creativity, with platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, finding unique ideas for lunches is almost too easy. I can’t believe I even had to remind you of that.

3. I don’t have a microwave or fridge at work.

Take it from someone who also doesn’t have a microwave — you really don’t need one. Most of my lunches are cold anyways, which I’m totally cool with considering my dinners’ are always hot. Moderation is an okay thing to have in life. Personally, I didn’t have a fridge in my office either — so I brought in my old mini fridge and set it up. The money we spent on that bad boy will far outweigh its dollar per use, unlike those french fries. Although, we all survived 12 years of school without fridges. Ice packs are still a thing, guys.

4. My budget is still doing fine without making lunches.

Good for you. How’s your health?

5. Leaving the office is my real break.

No one is stopping you from heading outside for a walk around the neighbourhood, or a quick gym break if it’s nearby. If you need some fresh air, I’ve never heard of a company stopping someone from stepping out and refreshing their mind. Truly not an option? Make sure you’re getting up once a day just to stretch and remove your eyes from the computer screen.

6. I am busy with extra curricula’s at night.

You still have time to make dinner though, right? Why not double the recipe and save your leftovers for the next day? I do it often, and I’ve never once been upset about having stir-fry or pasta twice within 24 hours.

7. Leftovers suck.

FINE, PROVE ME WRONG. If you really can’t stand to have the same meal twice within 24-hours, set an alarm to wake up earlier and spend 10 minutes getting together a homemade lunch. There is always room to make time for something you want to do. Plain and simple.

8. I never feel full after my brown bag lunch.

Make sure you’re realistic in what you pack. Are you eating a big enough breakfast? That could be another reason that you never feel satisfied after lunch time. Try to include some form of protein, or a healthy fat to hold you off until you can get home for an after-work snack. Even better — always keep some fruit or nuts in your desk drawer in case of a “hangry” emergency.

Still don’t have you convinced? Wow. Tough crowd. Good thing I have a free download with 5 lunches you can make in about 5 minutes (and that cost under $10). Please tell me you’re into it. Otherwise, keep enjoying your $200/month habit, and I’ll keep enjoying my hand-picked groceries.

What are some of your favorite brown bagging tips? Let me know in the comments!

42 Responses to “To The Person Who Buys Their Lunch Every Day

  • Hahaha, I love this! Mr. Adventure Rich and I have been big fans of packing lunches and it is amazing how much we save! And the creativity at times is hilarious. I have had the most “mis-matched” lunches when we didn’t have leftovers or were running low on groceries, my lunch looked like some form of circus show (random slice of chicken with a big, uncut carrot, canned peaches and a bag of cereal to snack on). But guess what? It was food, it was good, I was full.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      Hahaha I too, can relate to the mismatched lunch. I always end up bringing oatmeal when we’re running low on groceries. It’s filling and it tastes good!

  • Overnight oats in the morning has been THE game-changer for me. 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup milk, some brown sugar. That’s it!! Easiest, most inexpensive breakfast ever, and it holds me over until lunch with no problem. When I get bored of it, it’s super easy to throw in some blueberries or granola to change up the flavors and textures without adding too much to the price tag.

    • So good! I also enjoy overnight oats. I like mine with apples, chia seeds, brown sugar and cinnamon. Usually make a huge bowl and pour it into containers for the week that way I don’t even have to worry about it in the evenings. Meal prep FTW.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      OVERNIGHT OATS ARE BOMB. So good omg.

  • This is a major reason I’ve been able to save more money despite taking a 30% cut from my last job, since I now work at home. Lazy used to mean hopping in my car and going to a restaurant for greasy fries and an overpriced sandwich. Lazy now means walking downstairs and grabbing something out of the fridge, because duh I haven’t showered yet and won’t go out in public until evening 🙂

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      That’s amazing, though! That’s definitely how I save as much money as I do. All the money I save during the week goes straight to my emergency fund.

  • You tell ’em sister!!

    I’m one of the lone lunch-bringers in my office. All we do is make enough dinner for four servings and pack half for our lunches the next day. It take probably 5 minutes to cut up some veggies/fruit and make some berries and yogurt for snacks and ta-da, lunch is prepped for the next day.

    I buy lunch on special occasions and even then I try to keep that to a minimum. It’s amazing how much money you can blow by going to Olly Fresco’s or the food court even 2-3 times a week. I’d rather put that money to better use.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      Yes — I am all about leftovers! So happy I’m not the only one haha.

  • Does this count for coffee too? Because if so, I’m afraid you’re going to have to de-friend me 🙂

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      Hahaha I mean, I love coffee myself. But I make it at home most days.

      *cough* except when I go to Starbucks *cough*

  • Here’s a handy tool to show what you can save by bringing your lunch https://www.yourmoneypage.com/family/fam_lbb3.php

  • Yeah…I know. That’s why I started packing lunches more often. It’s a pain but worth it in the wallet. I definitely see a difference and we’ve freed up some more money for our vacation next week.

  • I brought my lunch everyday and it was only the odd time, maybe once I month I would purchase, if that. I eat mostly plants anyways so salad is way cheaper at home vs getting at a salad bar.

    However in some office settings decision making happens over lunch time even if they are designated “business meetings” at the start. If you work in an office like that sometimes not attending lunch could be detrimental to your career. But it would be a balance as it is super costly if you went out everyday. A good balance would be once a week if you can afford it. It’s a tough situation to be in however.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      Yes, that’s definitely true. I would sometimes join co-workers for lunches (which is obviously fine), but it’s also still possible to have lunch with them with a home made kit, too! Balance is the keyword here for sure!

  • When I was single, I would buy my lunch almost every day. I used a lot of the excuses you mentioned above. Even after discovering PF blogging and tracking my spending, I didn’t stop. It had become part of my routine, and was pretty much the only money I spent on myself.

    This was only made worse when I got a job at the college and the cafeteria was only steps away. Not only was I buying lunch every day (at rather high prices!) but I was buying my morning coffee and bagel, as well. (No wonder I gained weight!)

    After being unemployed, and finally returning to work full time – I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve bought my lunch in the last year. And most of those were because I forgot my lunch at home and didn’t have time to drive back to get it.

    Yes I know I have to spend money on food in order to survive. But I’m so glad I broke that habit so that I’m not broke instead.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      That’s totally it — it becomes a habit and you don’t want to have to self-adjust! Congrats on breaking this habit, Amanda!

  • Yes this is so true! I love your dgaf approach to this topic! The savings just from kicking this one habit is so incredible and yet most people don’t put that together. With such a little amount of money being spent each day it mostly goes unnoticed! This reminds me of when I used to spend $10 on a bottle of wine every…ahem other…day. The price is small but man, does it add up! That’s when you gotta switch to box wine. More bang for your buck lol.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      Hahaha thank you Kendall! Boxed wine is still wine! 😉

  • I can’t IMAGINE how those costs would add up over the course of a year. Plus, bagged lunch can be as simple or as fancy as you want it to be!

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      Seriously!! It would end up blowing a lot of people’s minds I’m sure.

  • This was quite the entertaining post.

    As someone who switched to packed lunches after buying for about 8 years, I can second what the article is saying.

    Besides the financial burden, my health was also not at its best but I stuck to my story, I didn’t have time to pack.

    That all changed when I met my girlfriend who is quite set on proper nutrition. She will not let me leave the house if I haven’t packed something for myself for lunch and I must say, I love her even more for it. I’m saving bucks while being more energetic, sleeping better and just generally feeling healthier.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      Sounds like your girlfriend knows what’s up 😉

  • I love stuffed peppers with dirty rice. Then a banana. Overnight oats or a greek yogurt for breakfast. I also keep not ideally healthy snacks in my drawer at work. Cheaper than the vending machine. Tides me over most days.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      Ooooh what is dirty rice? Sounds like I could get on board. I love stuffed peppers.

  • Completely disagree. What about the cost of food and the cost of the time it takes to prepare lunch. I multi-ethnic food every day for lunch – am I supposed to buy all those ingredients and keep them at home? Oh – let’s eat OATS instead – so good.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      How long does it take you to make your lunch that you’re concerned about the cost of time?

      OATS (since we like to emphasize our sarcasm with capslock) are not your only option. If you’re worried about keeping ingredients, try freezing them, or don’t worry about my opinion and continue on buying expensive lunches.

      Have a great week 🙂

  • I like to balance it out. Going out for lunch once a week with my husband is my favourite day of the week. Neither of us can eat at the other’s workplace and we love our local teashop for its cheap homemade soup. It’s winter 7 months of the year, eating together in the car gets real old, real fast.

    But man, we’d go broke in a hurry if we both bought lunch every day. I bought him a personal sized crockpot that he leaves at work and we fill the container part up at home with random leftovers or soup or whatever and it almost always turns out great for him.

    • Alyssa
      1 year ago

      That’s awesome! Definitely finding a key way to balance out the spend and save moments you choose to take is the way to go 🙂

  • I always pack my lunch it saves me a ton of money. It really does. My boyfriend was spending $400 a month on lunch. I convinced him to start packing it and now he buys it once a month or so. He’s been putting that $350 in emergency savings and has built it up from zero to 7k just by doing this.

  • Wow this article was so snarky. I’m no more confident that I’ll be able to make brown bagging work than I was before I read this judgy ass crap. I’m guessing you didn’t meant this to be helpful to people who actually have a hard time with meal prep, you just wanted to share with the internet that you feel superior. Guess I, like the other person you called out, will just go on ignoring your “advice”.

  • Cody Montgomery
    7 months ago

    Nope, sorry. Can’t do it. I hate that lunch box smell. You all know exactly the smell I am talking about. Stays with you for years.

  • Love your blog… hahaha you really can’t make any excuse! Thanks for posting this and Best Regards!

  • Hahahahahaha! Dude money is not a static thing. People earn money to buy the things they want and not do the chores they hate. I could sit and judge someone for buying a 100 dollar pair of jeans but in the end it’s their money and life and how they choose to spend their hard earned money. I would never pack lunch. Don’t want to do it. That’s why I earn the money. However I don’t use my money on other things like clothes, makeup etc which I think are a waste of money and time shopping .it’s just about priorities and that differs from person to person. Talking about health….hahahaha! People who live even the cleanest lifestyle nowadays are still at a risk for cancer and other diseases. Also there are so many ways to die. Why not die happy without having had to do the hateful chore of packing lunch if you hate to do it?

  • Omg yes preach. I love this article. I work in a hospital cafeteria and its insane the amount of employees who want to come eat our food. It’s not even that great! Some of them come and eat the same thing every. Single. day. And it drives me insane. They spend 5 bucks on a ham and cheese sandwhich when you can make one at home for much cheaper. They come down here for cheeseburgers and chili cheese fries constantly, half of them are overweight and the other half are skinny lazy young adults who can’t get off their ass for 5 minutes and pack a lunch. It’s so annoying to me. Most of them eat 3 meals a day down here, and our meals average about $7, depending on what you buy or course. I swear they have more money than sense.

  • I work in a hospital cafeteria, and a lot of employees come down here every day, twice a day. Like just now, for instance I had someone come get a plain Turkey and cheese sandwhich. Our sandwiches are $4.99. How hard is it to buy some bread, Turkey, and cheese and make it yourself? It would be cheaper and better for you. Some of these people literally spend about $15 to $20 a day on breakfast and lunch. I swear they have more money than they do sense. Lazy pieces of shits.

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