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I Brought My Lunch To Work for 10 Days & Here’s How Much I Saved

When I volunteered at work to use Hillshire Farm® Farm Classics® deli meat every day at lunch instead of going out to eat or ordering takeout, I was first considering all of the health benefits—I am horrible at remembering to bring my lunch to work which means come lunchtime each day, I’m starving and willing to grab whatever is quick…which usually translates to fast food…which then translates to me being sluggish by 2:30 and feeling like I need a major nap. 

The health factor was just one of the benefits of bringing my lunch to work. Once my 10 days were wrapped up, I was able to break down the experience day-by-day, and here’s what I found:

I Saved A Whole Lot Of $$

I’ve never felt like I overspent on lunch. After all, a girl has to eat, and dropping $6-8 a day for lunch doesn’t seem like that big of a deal…until you add it all up. I went back through my bank statements and receipts to get a breakdown of what I spent on lunch the week prior to the 10 days:

Monday: California Sushi Roll — $6.28
Tuesday: Leftover Sushi Roll — $0
Wednesday: Fast Food — $6.73
Thursday: Out To Eat — $12.46
Friday: Sandwich Delivery — $7.64
+ $5 for gas/tips

Total for the week: $35.93. See? It adds up. I was a little surprised by this number, to be honest. And this is a fairly normal week for me—so, for the sake of comparison, we can multiply that total by two: Total for 10 days: $73.86

Over $70 on lunch in 10 days?? Y’all, I knew I likely spent too much on going out to eat, but sheesh. Some days we have food at work or I’ll bring in leftovers from home, so there are weeks where I do save a little (I’m just trying to make myself feel better about these numbers). But overall, I’m spending way too much on lunch.

Here’s what I purchased for my 10-day experience of eating Hillshire Farm® Farm Classics® deli meat for lunch, rounded up to the nearest dollar:

Hillshire Farm® Farm Classics® deli meat (2 packs)  — $7.96
Bread (Ciabatta bread, tortillas, etc.) — $8
Cheese, lettuce, condiments, etc. — $7
Sides (chips, fruit, etc). — $8

Total for 10 days: About $30

I should note that I didn’t get very adventurous with my sandwiches (because I’m not a very adventurous eater), so others might spend a little more money on toppings. I basically eat some variation of meat, cheese, mustard, and lettuce on bread. (If it ain’t broke…). One of my coworkers even suggested making a fun salad with lunch meat, but I’m not a big salad gal. Even if you were to add on a few bucks for other condiments, the savings are still huge. Not to mention, a lot of the ingredients (like the mustard and other condiments) were able to be used past the 10 days. My leftover tacos from Fuzzy’s, however, could very much not.

I Was Able To Take a Break

I have an hour allotted for lunch every day. Most days, that hour is spent driving to pick up food and rushing back to eat it. Over the 10 days, I was able to use my full hour of lunch to actually take a break. I got to shut my computer, enjoy my lunch, and even watch some episodes of The Office with my coworkers.

Once I got back to work after lunch, I had more focus and felt energized. When you’re rushing through lunch or trying to pick up food and drive back in time for a meeting, you’re undoubtedly going to feel stressed. On the days your schedule allows it, taking the time to step back and relax is important. Your brain needs it.

I Had A Solution On Busy Days

Taking your lunch break is important—but I know first-hand that some days you just can’t make it work. I work at a startup, which means some days can get really busy. There’s been more than one occasion where I’m on a roll writing or editing and end up working through lunch, only to be starving by 3:30 with nothing but some peanuts leftover from a photo shoot. I loved having a lunch ready for me to eat on a couple of instances over the 10 days—I was able to get all of my work done and still have a meal…and my coworkers didn’t have to deal with hangry me.

I Had More Energy

Giving up waffle fries and chicken sandwiches for my ham and swiss croissant sandwich with a side of mango seemed like a daunting task at first, but after a few days, I noticed that I felt lighter, less sluggish, and had a bit more energy to work through the afternoon. This makes sense when you look at the numbers behind the two meals:

My Go-To Fast Food Meal
Chicken Sandwich + Fries: 840 calories (Sigh.)

My Average 10-Day Meal
Meat, cheese, & mustard sandwich + crackers + fruit: 580 Calories

No wonder I felt so much lighter. My lunches throughout the 10 days were smaller in portion than most of the meals I get when I go out to eat. Plus, come dinner time, I was ready to enjoy a big meal with my husband whereas before I might still be full from lunch and not really be hungry for a full meal.

The Verdict

I love knowing I saved over $40 in two weeks by simply not going out to eat. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my chicken sandwich and fries, but the benefits far outweigh the cost here, folks. If I could do it all over again, I’d definitely like to get a little more adventurous with my recipes—I kept it simple, but it would have been nice to have had a little variety, like Cordon Bleu Grilled Cheese. (Yes, please!)  While I won’t be necessarily eating sandwiches day in and day out moving forward, I do have more perspective of much I’m spending on quick meals—especially during the workweek. We use convenience and affordability as an excuse for eating fast food which is definitely okay in moderation. Every day? Not so much.  

My big tip: If you have a refrigerator at work accessible to you, keep your favorite sandwich ingredients there. This was a lifesaver for me. I’m forgetful to a major fault, so even if I do take the time to pack a lunch, the odds of me remembering to grab it on my way out the door are slim-to-none.