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How Cheaply Can You Brown Bag Your Lunch?

By JLP | July 15, 2008

Today’s Wall Street Journal had an article ($) comparing the cost of taking your lunch to work or eating out. Here’s their comparison:

Homemade Lunch:

1/4 pound of turkey – $1.99
1/8 pound of swiss cheese – $1.00
2 slices of whole-wheat bread – $0.28
Tomato – $0.38
Lettuce – $0.20
Chips – $0.30
20 oz. Soda – $1.09
TOTAL – $5.24

Lunch from an Upscale Deli:

Sandwich – $7.95
Chips – $0.99
20 oz. Soda – $1.75
TOTAL – $10.69

I think their homemade lunch is too expensive. Here’s how I’d do it:

For one, I would bring tea or water in place of the soda. I have no idea how much I would save but I have to think it would cost me less than $1.09 to make my own tea. Estimated savings: $.50

The example in the paper shows one of those small bags of chips that typically comes in the multipack. We all know those are a lot more expensive than buying a large bag of chips and making your own smaller serving. Of course that means that you can’t eat the chips during other parts of the day! LOL! Estimated savings: $.15

There’s nothing worse than a soggy tomato on a lunch that’s been packed for several hours. So, I would cut out the tomato. Of course, that’s just my opinion. Estimated savings: $.38

An eighth of a pound of cheese? Is it just me, or does that seem like a lot of cheese? Based on my numbers, that’s like 3 slices of cheese. I usually use one slice. Estimated savings: $0.66

Finally, 1/4 pound of turkey seems a bit much to me. I usually just throw two or three slices of meat on a sandwhich. I’m almost certain it’s less than 1/4 pound. If I had to guess I would say my sandwiches usually have 1/8 pound of meat on them. Estimated savings: $1.00

JLP’s Total Homemade Lunch Cost: $2.55
JLP’s Total Savings: $2.69 per day
JLP’s Estimated Annual Savings: $645 (48 5-day weeks per year)

What about you? How cheaply can you take your lunch to work?

Topics: Budgeting, Miscellaneous | 58 Comments »

58 Responses to “How Cheaply Can You Brown Bag Your Lunch?”

  1. Nicholas Paldino [.NET/C# MVP] Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 11:56 am

    You have saved 645 per year, not per day. If it was per day, everyone would be brown bagging it.

    I agree with the tomato completely when I make my own sandwich.

    However, I rarely make a sandwich. I usually make more food on weeknights and weekends which I know will transport well and then take that to work the following days, so I can try to maximize the savings when buying in bulk.

  2. matt Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    I am the lunch cheapskate of the house :)

    Monday on the way to work I stop at the grocery and pick up:
    a loaf of bread $3.50
    Jar of PB $2.49
    Jar of Jam $1.89
    Bag of chips $3.99
    Seasonal fruit

    I usually drink ice water and there is an ice machine and cooler at work.

    $11.87/week + fruit ($3-$5/week)
    less than $3.00/day

    I do vary it but that is the staple. No excuse for leaving it on the counter or fridge at home.


  3. Craig Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I’m fortunate to have a cafeteria at work. A burger and fries or a sandwich is less than $4, a decent salad from the salad bar is less than $5, and full meal entree is around $6. So basically I can eat lunch for an average of around $5 a day without having to do any prep. That’s worth it for me.

    On the other hand, if I truly need to go budget I’d go with a PBJ, a piece of whatever fruit is on sale, and water. What does that cost…$1.00?

  4. Mark Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Here’s how I figure it:
    I buy 1 LB of turkey, I get maybe 7 meals out of it. So let’s say that it costs 6.99 a pound. $1.

    I buy soda in bulk when it’s on sale, typically 1.99 to 2.50 for a 12pk. Let’s average it out to $0.20 a can.

    I can’t even imagine what the cheese costs since I only use one slice, and pay about $4.99 a pound for it and it lasts a while. I’m going to go with $0.20 as well.

    I also buy chips/snacks in bulk, but it can vary. I’m going to be conservative on this estimate and say it’s $0.25.

    Finally I pay $1.99 for a loaf of storeb rand whole wheat bread. If I use 2 slices, we’ll say that’s $0.20.

    Although $1.85 sounds a little on the low side, so I’m thinking I’m off somewhere.

  5. Travis Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I go to Meijer, and I eat a big bowl of cereal and OJ every morning…

    The bread is usually $1.29 (10 slices?)

    Value-time brand jelly is $1 (lasts 2 weeks or so)

    Meijer peanut butter is usually $2 (lasts 3 weeks or so)

    Pringles are $1.39 (lasts me about 6 lunches)

    6 or 7 bananas usually cost me $1.90ish I believe

    That’s approximately only $1.04 per lunch!!

    Keeps it fairly healthy too.

  6. shawnna Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Newsflash: Water is FREE! From the tap! If you’re on a budget you just don’t pay for water…

    If you want to get technical, someone is paying the municipality for the water, but probably around a cent per glass.

  7. Servius Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Let’s see

    1/3lb meat. $1.65 ($5 / lb)
    The tea. $.50
    Fruit $.43 (1/3 lb * 1.29/lb)
    No bread, cheese, tomato, lettuce, chips or soda

    Total. $2.58.

  8. tom Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I use leftovers! My wife makes enough at dinner the night before to feed both of us for lunch the next day. Yes, dinner is more expensive, but we don’t buy or make lunch. On average we probably buy 4 lunches month, between the two of us.

  9. Mike hates music Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    1 lb imported pasta: $1.10 (up 75% in the last year, btw)
    half head fresh garlic: $0.20
    very large glob of extra-virgin olive oil: $0.50 (guess)
    2 oz. very fancy Parmesan cheese: $1.75

    Makes three lunches, so the $3.55 / 3 = $1.18.

    If you want the 20 oz. soda pop, buy a multipack, which works out to something like $.60 each.

  10. Jeremy Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    I’ve been eating a turkey sandwich with a soda every day at lunch for the past 2 years, and I put everything on it they listed sans chips, and even add pickles. My lunch comes in at around $3.75/day.

    Their $5.24 brown bag is pretty expensive. You’d be better off going and getting a 5 dollar foot long at subway and make two lunches out of that.

  11. Ron@TheWisdomJournal Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    I think the real news here is that the media is highlighting the virtues of brown bagging your lunch.

    Cup of raspberry light yogurt $0.43
    One fresh banana $0.22
    One bagel $0.50
    1/8 lb ham $0.67
    Water from tap

    $1.82 — this used to be a competitive sport between my partner and me back when I was a business owner. Who could eat a decent lunch the cheapest????

  12. K Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Making your own tea is about 30 cents for a gallon, so the cost is less than a nickel per serving.

    Chips are $2 for a 1 lb bag, which is $0.13 per 1 oz serving.

    Cheese is $2.50 for 8 slices ($0.31)

    Meat is $5/lb which makes about 7 sandwiches ($0.71)

    Bread is $0.79 per loaf at the bread outlet ($0.11 per 2 slices)

    Add in homemade cookies (maybe 10 cents each), a banana ($0.10) and yogurt ($0.50)

    Total=$2.11 and includes yogurt, fruit, and cookies. I will admit that this is probably about half the size of your deli sandwich though. But the extra items will fill you up and be healthier.

    But usually I just pack leftovers which aren’t exactly free, but no extra ingredients to buy.

  13. Amanda Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Yes! My husband and I pack every day. I happen to love peanut butter sandwiches, and obviously peanut butter would be a great way to cut your costs as a jar lasts much longer and is cheaper than deli meat. Throw in an apple, some yogurt and a granola bar, and I’m good to go!

  14. Andy Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Footlong at Subway = $5, makes 2 lunches. That’s $2.50 each. Sorry, but saving 50 cents isn’t worth the extra time/effort to make your own.

  15. Mike Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    …. I should really start making my own lunch *sigh*

  16. Ms. Penny Pincher Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    My lunch staples are either a hard boiled egg, leftovers, a plain baked potato or peanut butter crackers.

    We buy free range eggs which are a little more expensive so that averages out to .33 cents for one egg. I would guesstimate that the potato costs around .20 cents.

    Since I am on my feet all day I need something that will keep my energy up and that I can eat on the go. I also bring my own drink (diet lemonade) so I’m not tempted to buy something from work.

  17. Dave Says:
    July 15th, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Adding a little financial planning to this: I took my lunch four days a week for 20 years, and ate out with my coworkers one day a week. When I quit in 1999, I estimate that my packed lunches cost about $2 each, and I typically spent about $8 when I ate out, including tip. Discounting those prices at the rate of 3%/year for the previous 20 years, and investing the annual savings in the stock market with an average 10% return, I calculate that I would have accumulated over $48,000, compared to eating out every day.

  18. Foobarista Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 2:07 am

    My question: where do media types buy groceries? Every time I see one of these “comparison” stories with Real Numbers ™, it looks like they did their grocery “research” at a 7-11.

  19. thahosk Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 6:49 am

    I usually go the pj route.water cooler and nuts 10 dollars/ wk.

  20. Sameer Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 9:25 am

    I do not understand the fascination with soda and chips. Can a meal be had without either? Yes it can.

  21. Turtle Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I love to bring black beans and rice! Black beans are $1/can and they have at least 4 servings in there, so that’s 25 cents. Brown rice is about $1.50 for a huge bag — I’ll guess that a serving is about .10. Add a grate of cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream (.30 cents total?) and you have a delicious, nutritious filling lunch. Maybe .70 cents for a juicy nectarine and then a cup of water from the cooler at work. This is less than $2.50 for one of my favorite meals. Now I’m getting hungry…

  22. kitty Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Don’t know exact breakdown, but I tend to eat dinner entry for lunch e.g. chicken/buck wheat, fish/small potatoe, salmon/salad (home-made). I cook for two-three days at home, pack in separate containers than warm up in the microwave. No bread, no cold cuts, all home-made. Also leftovers e.g. I cook a chicken on Sunday, then divide the remainder for two more days. I also take ice water with it – free at our cafeteria.

    I take fresh fruit with me as well, but this is for snacks.

    Not sure about the cost, I guess it varies by what I have on each particular week. Also, lunch is my main meal kind of a mid-day dinner as I only eat a light supper in the evening.

  23. Sam Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Hey, no one has mentioned just going through the fridge at work and looking for stuff that other people have brought in. Or rummaging through your coworkers desks after everyone has left for the afternoon. Way cheaper. ;o)

  24. PDamian Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Tuna – 1 6 oz can, packed in water, drained: usually about $1.00 (I wait for sales, then buy huge quantities; also, store brand is just as good as StarKist or Bumblebee)

    Low-fat mayo – 2 tbsps., maybe about $.20 (buy a large jar @ 3.99; I’m probably estimating high)

    Sweet pickle relish – 1/2 tbsp, maybe about $.20 (small jar @ $2.00)

    Side salad – 1 c. chopped Romaine lettuce ($.10), 1/2 c. chopped cucumber ($.25; a large cucumber is about 1 1/2 cups chopped and $.75), 5-6 grape tomatoes (about $.50; 1 packet of grape tomatoes @ $2.99); Newman’s Own salad dressing, 1 tbsp. (about $.20; large bottle @ $4.00 unless I hit a really good sale)

    Laughing Cow cheese wedge – $.50 (8 wedges in a $4.00 container)

    1 apple, pear, orange, or whatever’s on sale: $.25 – $.40

    Approximate total: $3.15 – 3.35

    Yeah, yeah, I know — giving up the Laughing Cow would save me some dough. I refuse. Laughing Cow cheese wedges, along with Wee Brie and Babybel, are my delight.

  25. guinness416 Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    While homemade sarnies may have less fillings I think they’re comparing apples to apples – an NYC deli sandwich is huge and will have all the turkey and cheese that they list, and will likely come with chips and soda.

  26. Jeff Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Frozen dinners = easy to carry + easy to make, so you save time as well as money. ~$2.50/each from WalMart. I think Marie Calendar has the best non-diet dinners.

  27. Frugal Bachelor Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    I spend $0.33 on lunch every workday – Maruchan Instant noodles. Just get hot water from coffee machine and pour over. At home regular stove top noodles for even cheaper ($0.12).

    IMHO spending more than a dollar on lunch is leading a life of excess and extravagance.

  28. KH Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Other ways to save money:

    * Leave out the mayonnaise

    * Substitute grocery-store brand American slices for the deli swiss

    * Replace the whole-wheat bread with two healthy Saltine crackers taken from a salad bar

    * Instead of turkey and lettuce, try discount turkey-flavor cat food and a bit of parsley

    * F*** it and just eat out of a dumpster

  29. Nathan Says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Good grief! $8/lb turkey and swiss cheese!!! Where are they buying it?

    You could eat steak for cheaper than that.

  30. Suzie Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 5:33 am

    I’m English, so this is in pounds, not dollars. But…

    Every day, my friends and I go to Waitrose (supermarket) from school to buy lunch. You can either buy a sandwich for £2.50 – £3.50, or you can do what we do.

    Bread roll = £0.35
    Cheese from counter = £0.65

    There. Cheese sandwich. And the great thing is, you can vary it by buying different cheeses and breads. If you’re feeling extravangant/hungry, add:

    Tin of fruit = £0.40

    Voila. Lunch for £1.00 to £1.40. The only bad bit is trying to ask for £0.60 worth of cheese at the cheese counter…

  31. Brandon Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 8:31 am

    No examples for myself since I haven’t done the math on my lunches and I often eat leftovers, but I have a few comments.

    First, I am guessing they are getting deli quality meat and cheese. My mother-in-law always buys that meat, and it is close to that expensive. I enjoy it, but I buy the 99 cent pack of ham/turkey usually for myself. :)

    I think they are charging a bit high for the bread considering it is only two slices but maybe that varies regionally. I mean, I think that an average loaf contains about 20 slices so that is $2.80 a loaf.

    Also, I keep thinking that I would really like to try to build the sandwich that they suggest. I think that 1/4 lb. turkey and 1/8 lb. of swiss with tomato and lettuce would severely overstuff two lonely pieces of wheat bread. If I were going to use all of those ingredients, I would probably make two sandwiches and skip the chips.

  32. K.R. Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Matt, like your lunch but wow, still too expensive for this frugal chick.
    Jar of PB $1.67 on sale
    Jar of Jam $2.00
    Loaf of bread $0.78
    Fruit $3.00 average for five pieces
    same with water.
    week: $7.45
    daily: $1.49

    One of my coworkers buys a PB&J from the deli, just the sandwich, for $3.99.

    $2.50 for a 6″ subway isn’t bad but you should also calculate the time to get there, gas used, besides most people pick up a 99 cent bag of chips or cookies or a soda..

    Your tuna calculations is one I do too, when PB&J gets old.

    it’s a little more expensive for the $1/lb peppers, onions and zucchini but I’m having the aforementioned sauteed veggies, brown rice and cheese for lunch today.

    Great post JLP!

  33. Carlos Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 11:27 am

    I like to bring a can of soup and a fruit. Not too expensive and I can vary the type of soup. Plus, no prep time.

  34. Will Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Guys, guys, if you want to eat really cheap, you need to go hippie:

    1.5 cups cooked brown basmatti rice, $0.35
    0.5 cups cooked beans (dried not canned), $0.10
    A little bit of seseme oil and soy sauce, maybe $0.5
    Handful of chopped spinach or broccoli, maybe $0.10

    Apple, $0.50
    3 or 4 carrots, $0.20

    $1.30 total, and very filling!

  35. Erin Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    My husband and I always pack our lunches. We spend $6/week on turkey (Hillshire Farm), $2/week on cheese slices, $2/week on whole wheat bread (on the weeks I don’t bake bread), $1/lettuce, $2/pretzels, $5/fruit (whatever’s in season, often organic if it isn’t too expensive), $2/carrots. Total, it’s about $20/week for both of us, so two bucks a day each. Some weeks we splurge on soda if it’s on sale, but that’s normally $2.50 for 12 cans, so it doesn’t add that much. We do buy generic for most things and organic for produce, so I think they balance each other out.

    I’m okay with living a life of ‘extravagance’ since it includes fruit and veggies. 😉

  36. Jim Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    My lunches run me a little under $2 a day.

    Costs are roughly:
    1/2 loaf of bread : $1-1.5
    1/2 a pack of cheese : $1.5-2
    Container of deli meat : $3
    Small bags of chips from Costco : $0.20 ea
    An Apple a day : $0.50 ea
    Beverage : free – Water from cooler or free pop/coffee provided by work.


  37. Jeremy Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    I recently got a new job which makes more money. I ended up spending $10+ a day.. more usually a $15-$25 range (applebees, hooters, etc).. I don’t really make THAT much and it really hurt my bank account. I started bringing in leftovers for lunch and it saves me money. I am going to start brown bagging sandwiches. Invest a little now with some PB, Jelly, Whatever lunch meat is on sale at the time, bread and maybe pickles or another cheap condiment. Not only will I save money, but this is a healthier alternative to fast food and eating out all of the time. I hope to eat for the same amount of money as 2 days of eating for a whole week. Great post.

  38. BK Says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    I really enjoy these Hamburger Helper meals. For example, I especially enjoy one called ‘Crunchy Taco’. Here is the breakdown:

    Hamburger Helper – $1.60
    1 lb Chicken – $1.75
    Extra items added in to make it more filling and tasty:
    Can of Tomatoes – $0.75
    1 Cup frozen corn – $1.00
    Can of Black Beans – $0.50

    That is a total of only $5.10, but I then divide it up into 3 portions to take with me for lunch.

    So that is only $1.70 per lunch! And it is actually a really good lunch.

  39. Susan Says:
    July 18th, 2008 at 9:21 am

    My lunches consist of everything from a pancake to a boiled egg, all of which I bring from home. I started recognizing last summer that it really didn’t take much for me to feel satisfied and consequently, I lost around 12-14 pounds, just because I didn’t want to spend money at the office cafeteria. I feel better, look better and am making an enormous dent in my credit card debt. It’s a win, win, win situation.

  40. Edna Says:
    July 19th, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I make my own breads (challah,cinnamon-raisin,whole wheat and others)with peanut butter and jelly,home made granola with nuts and dried fruit or homemade cookies,fresh fruit,tea bag from home or tap water. The bread costs about a dollar a LOAF to make,granola or cookies $.50 per serving,fruit $.50 more or less, tea bag one cent,water free.I sometimes have homemade jam but even store bought is cheap. I don’t take all the above everyday (it’s so filling) so my lunches are under $2 and DELICIOUS!

  41. Rick Ross Says:
    July 20th, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Clif Bars at Meijers are $1.10 and very nutritious. Sometimes they’re on the clearance rack for $0.55. Last week I bought 72 of them, and they have very long shelf life.

    So, my lunches for two months will cost $0.55/ea, and come in five flavors. Total savings: $337.68 for 14 weeks of lunches.

  42. CB Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    I confess, I spend a lot more on lunch than I should. My lunch of choice is a make-your-own salad, quite popular at the downtown delis on Wall Street where I work. I get a spinach salad w/ grilled chicken, beets, avocado, corn, and walnuts, and I imagine the cost of keeping all of these ingredients at home (not to mention fresh), and cooking the grilled chicken, would be comparable to the $6/$6.50 that I pay (somehow they seem to add up the cost of each item differently every time, haha). But I calculate that I’m paying about $1750/year for the luxury of fresh salads, which is over $2500 in pre-tax income… ykes!

  43. Valerie Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Actually, an 1/8 of a pound is only 2 oz., which is not too much cheese at all. If it’s shredded, that’s about 1/4 cup, which is a standard serving.

  44. Matt Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I bring all sorts of things for lunch each day, every day. Today, for breakfast and lunch, I have:
    2 FiberOne bars, purchased on sale: $.20 each
    1 large (.5 lb) peach: $.60
    Leftover chicken and rice meal, broken down:
    4 oz chicken (purchased in a 3lb package, already marinated, on sale at Costco): $.50
    1 serving cheddar & broccoli rice: $.10

    Total for Lunch: $1.60.

    That’s actually an expensive lunch for me, haha, and that includes breakfast, too. Without the Fiber One bars and peach, I’m at $.60 for lunch, haha! I think $2/lunch is way too much. Damn, I’m cheap!

    Some days, I clean out my freezer by bringing a lunch of pizza rolls, or bagel bites, etc that I got on sale for $.70-$1.00. I always bring a fruit (apple, orange, peach, banana) for a snack. And I have a banana and nutrient shake in the morning that costs about $1.50 including milk, banana and nutrient mix.

    Cost/day for both my fiance’s and my meals is about $8. And that’s on the high side, because our grocery bills are about $160/month.

    Also, buying in bulk to make the exact recipe for McDonald’s Sweet Tea, it costs about $.25 for 32 oz. (Boil 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar for the base, then steep 8 single size, I THINK, black tea bags for 15 minutes. This concentrate you mix with I THINK 3 cups of extra water, to make 32 oz).

  45. Matt Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Also, I should mention, for the greatest snack my fiance’ and I love the most, buy:
    Large package flour tortillas ($4 for 32 tortillas at Costco)
    5 lb bag shredded cheese ($9 at Costco)
    Ranch salad dressing ($1 or less for basic brand, on sale at whatever store. In our case, $.70 at Kroger)
    Head of lettuce (price just increased to $1.50 per head at Meijer; same price at Kroger)
    Large bag bacon crumbles ($8 at Costco)

    You get your grains, vegetables, omega fats, dairy, meats, etc, in a great tasting wrap. And each wrap costs approximately $.30-$40! We both eat 2, making both our lunches cost $1.60 or less.

  46. Alphonse Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 10:26 am

    My lunch is pretty cheap:

    1 pouch of salmon (1.00)
    2 bags of instant oatmeal (free from my work)
    1 glass of water

    total cost: $1.00 per day

  47. deepali Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Their estimates aren’t off – those prices are comparable in terms of quality. Yeah you could buy wonder bread, generic processed cheese food, and reconstituted turkey slices, but I actually like to eat real food. Sometimes, it’s not just about your budget, it’s also about your health.

    And not all PB is healthy! Lots of extra sugar, partially hydrogenated oils, palm oil, etc, if you aren’t buying the “natural” kind (ie, just peanuts and salt). Also consider making your own….

    That being said, I spend $3-$4 on lunch at my cafeteria at work. Yesterday I had a bowl of vegetable soup, black beans and rice, and some brussel sprouts. The day before it was a big salad I made at the salad bar (I like to load up on beans, cottage cheese, and broccoli). Occasionally, I’ll make a big vegetable sandwich, or go with a veggie burger and fries. Sometimes they have mac and cheese, which I am always excited about!

  48. Jonas Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    not eat.
    total cost: $0.
    annual saving: a lot.
    (well, maybe you’ll have to pay for the brown bag.)

    cheap probably shouldn’t be the only consideration. pb&j and a snack bar are not healthy lunches.

  49. Sara Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I have a PB&J sandwich for lunch at work almost every day.

    2 slices of wheat bread = $0.28
    3 tbsp of peanut butter = $0.24
    2 tbsp of jelly = $0.30
    1 can of pop = $0.25
    Total = $1.07

    It’s usually even less, because I buy the peanut butter and jelly on sale or with coupons. I always buy pop on sale, too, and never spend more than $.25/can, but sometimes I can get it for as little as $.17/can.

    Of course the lunches where I work cost a lot less than the upscale deli lunch from the article, but most people still spend $5 – 8 per day if they buy lunch and a beverage at work!

  50. sm4k Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    One of the common lunch recipes I have is a vegetable/chicken/pasta combo, and it is very inexpensive.

    1 box of whole wheat pasta (~$1.25 per box, has about 4 servings in it) – $.31
    1 5lb bag of frozen mixed vegetables (~$5.50 per bag, has about 10 servings in it) – $.55
    1 bag of frozen sliced grilled chicken (~$5.50 per bag, has about 6 servings in it) – $.91

    Daily total is about $1.77, and it tastes pretty good. If you want to spice it up a little bit, add in some vinaigrette sauce and some Mrs. Dash (certainly cuts into the cost effectiveness, but you’re still under $2.50 a day)

  51. Jaspenelle Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    2 or 3 of my husband’s weekly meals are dinner leftovers which beats buying the lunch fixing. Otherwise his lunch is under $4 a day with tuna or meat sandwiches, yogurt, carrot sticks and homemade cookies (the bread is sometimes homemade too.

  52. Mara Says:
    July 24th, 2008 at 9:09 am

    I get my bread from the bread outlet stores. It’s always cheaper and I just double bag and freeze it. I watch the sales and get store brand deli meats and cheeses only when they are on sale.
    I take chips and fruit whatever is on sale.
    Frugal shopping is the key to frugal meals. Also, it’s a not a bargain if you wind up throwing things away.

  53. Shymom Says:
    July 24th, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Sam #24 was (in jest) taking about rummaging through the fridge at work to eat out of other peoples lunches.

    I knew a guy who did that and then would complain about the type of cheese I brought in. — Some people 😎

  54. SavingDiva Says:
    July 24th, 2008 at 10:11 am

    I love tomato, but I put it in a separate bag so it doesn’t make my sandwich soggy.

  55. erick Says:
    July 27th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    You guys got nothin on me.
    11 oz can pork & beans, 3 for $1
    2 esskay beef franks, 8 for $1
    free work coffee

    beans and franks for $.58

    yeah, i had to look to find those prices, but then i bought a mess of them.

    you got nothin’ on me. sweet potatoes go for 50 cents/lb, microwave a big one, another lunch for under a buck.

  56. erick Says:
    July 27th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    seriously, have any of you guys ever been poor? chicken bologna sandwiches, ramen, kool aid, pasta, chicken dogs

  57. Ashley Says:
    July 29th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I make large pots of coup/chili on the weekends and then put them into individual serving containers to freeze for use whenever I don’t have left overs for lunch. 6 servings of chili only costs about $7.50 to make (3 cans of beans, 2 lbs potatoes, 1 can tomatoes, corn and veggie stock) Then I buy a loaf of bakery WW bread and a bowl of soup and 1/6 a loaf of bread only costs about $1.50 a day. Its also very healthy and filling.

  58. Linda Rocco Says:
    July 30th, 2008 at 12:03 am

    I have a job where I need to take clients to lunch 4 days a week (of course paid by the company). Since I get bored of restaurant stuff, it’s a delight to eat my own stuff. Here’s what I usually have:

    – 1 cup of brown basmati rice (.25$)
    – spinach (.15$)
    – onions (.15$)
    – soy (.15$)
    – chicken breast (1.50$)
    – naan (.25$)
    – sour cream (.25$)

    For a little less than 3$.