How to Be Thrifty: Making a Case for the Brown-Bag Lunch

created at: 06/16/2010

So far in our Be Thrifty series, we’ve covered the ‘buy it’ test as well as the rewards of being a handy householder.  Today we start a discussion about the cost of food. Namely, lunch. 

Be Thrifty. How to Live Better With Less makes a compelling argument for those of us who have not yet made the decision to bring our lunches to work. You might think buying a sandwich and a drink doesn’t cost THAT much, and comparing it to a meal out with the family, it doesn’t. However, if we break it down, we can see just how much that quick lunch is really costing you.    

Be Thrifty uses the example of a simple turkey sandwich. Making one at home costs $3.75. That figure is based upon the following:

Bread: A 20 ounce loaf of store-bought bread costs about $3.29. That cost divided by 20 slices, which is the average slice quantity in a loaf equals about 30 cents for two slices.

Turkey: At about $6.49 a pound, three ounces of turkey will run about $1.21.

Lettuce: A head of of lettuce cost about 1 buck, so one serving is about 5 cents. 

Tomato: .49 each; 10 cents a serving.

Cheese: Swiss, 50 cents an ounce.

Total Sandwich cost: 2.61 + one can of soda from a 12 pack (.32 cents), an apple (.60 cents) and some pretzels (.22 cents an ounce). 

The total of our brown bag lunch equals $3.75 compared to the average 8 dollar deli dash. Extrapolated out over the week, that’s about a $21.50 savings. Over the course of a year … a whopping $1,118. Okay, okay, but you don’t want to bother to make your lunch every day. Just brown-bagging it TWICE a week will save you $8.50. Not a big deal? Multiply that out for the entire year, and the figure jumps up to a respectable $442

Just think about that for a sec and consider what you could buy for $442. Better yet, consider what you could buy for $1,118.

For more great, and thought-provoking money saving ideas, including other food-related tips like how to be a thrifty cook, check out Be Thrifty, and don’t forget to enter our contest to win a free copy of the book!