Saving Money

The Real Cost Of Eating Out During The Work Week

food expenses, eating out, spending money on foodI recently switched office cubicles, moving just a few isles within the same building. My team had become fragmented with personal changes over years, and management was moving people around to place team members within close physical proximity of each other. I noticed that there were three teammates that went to lunch together. Almost like clockwork, at 11:30 am they roll their chairs into the isle and discuss that day’s lunch destination.

They go out to eat for lunch every single day.

When I realized this, I did some quick calculations to figure out how much going out to eat for lunch each day would cost. We have a team lunch once a week which I attend when I don’t have a conflicting meeting. Each time I go with, the average bill is about $10. That would be $50 a week, or over $2500 a year.

Going out to eat every work day would cost over $2500 a year.

Granted, my calculation doesn’t take into account days off, but that’s a substantial chunk of money. I like to think of going out to eat as a special event, not an every day occurrence. I started thinking of things that we could do with an extra $2500 a year:

All of the above give my life a whole lot more value than going and eating (semi) fast food every work day. There are also two other bonuses to NOT going out to eat for lunch during the work day:

  • Clean out the fridge : What exactly would I do with my leftovers if I didn’t take them for lunch the next day? Likely, they’d just get thrown away.
  • Time : Guess who leaves an hour earlier than these coworkers? Yeah, that’d be me. That extra hour allows me to mow my lawn, get in a workout, or spend time with my son that I may not have the time to do otherwise. An hour may not sound like a lot, but if you think of 1 hour a day multiplied by 5 days a week multiplied by 52 weeks…that’s 260 hours.

Over the course of a year, I have almost 11 more days of productivity because I eat lunch while I work at my desk.

I work hard for my money, and my time is precious. Going out to eat for lunch wastes both of these precious resources.

Do you eat out for lunch during the work week? Have you ever thought of what you could do with the extra time and money instead?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • I’m a big fan of bringing my lunch to work with me both for budget and health reasons. I’m trying to get my boyfriend on board with this as well as he often wonders how much he spends buying lunch every day. Well, I’d say this post really puts it into perspective on the money front. I’ll have to share it with him. Even just bringing lunch once a week would be a huge savings! Thanks for sharing!

  • I so appreciate this post. I have actually had this conversation with my coworkers because while I bring my lunch everyday, many of them eat from the stocked fridges. While the average bill is still only about $4 for their frozen pizzas, much of it is really bad in calories too.

    How much is it going to cost you health wise to eat out every day as well?

  • @Elyse – great point…..bringing your lunch not only helps control your spending, but it also help you control what you put in your body. Thanks for reading!

  • Ugh, this is another reminder that the hubs and I need to sit down and make a better plan for his lunches. Not only are we wasting money, but let’s face it, eating out is not generally a healthy thing. Thanks for the great post.

    • You can eat healthy when dining out….but it’s definitely easy not to. Salad or burger? I’d pick the burger 99 out of 100 times. But if I’ve got something healthy sitting on my desk….that just removes all the temptation. Thanks for reading!

  • While I agree with the points you make, I would like to point out a few points being over looked. Your true savings isn’t $2,500. It isn’t a $10 or $0 decision. The lunch you bring to work costs something, whether it is left over dinner or not. The portion break down may be a fraction of the $10, but it still costs something. Remember, you had to go to the store, use gas/car depreciation, or transit fare. You had to pay for the groceries. You had to supply the utensils needed to cook the food. The appliances needed. The Utilities needed.

    I’m aware these are fractional costs, but they do still count against your $2,500 claim.

    The other, more dangerous claim, is eating at your desk. There is a real benefit to stepping away from your work and getting a brain recharge by unplugging for a bit.

    • I agree that the leftovers cost something….but it is very, very fractional. I wouldn’t count the gas/car depreciation, utensils and appliances needed. These are all costs I would have incurred to make the initial meal (dinner the night before)…there is no added cost to make extra (or very, very, very marginal) food at the same time. There is the cost of the groceries……i will acknowledge that.

      I do get what you say about “uplugging” for a bit…..on the other hand, I’d rather just get done with work early and “unplug” at home! 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!

Leave a Comment