Packing a lunch can really save you


GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Packing, rather than buying lunch can be well worth the effort.

Computing the weekly, monthly — or annual — savings may be all that it takes to decide to dine in, said Linda Beech, a Kansas State University Research and Extension family and consumer sciences agent based in Finney County, Kan., and a frequent teacher of money management.


Calculating the savings also can be fun, said Beech, who happened across a Lunch Savings Calculator ( while doing some financial management homework prior to launching Extension’s Kansas Saves campaign earlier this year.

To compute the lunch savings, type in the average price currently paid for a purchased lunch, number of lunches per month, number of years (for savings estimate), expected rate of return and estimated cost of packing a lunch.

If, for example, the average cost of eating out is $6 a day five days a week (20 meals a month), while the average cost of packing a lunch costs $3 per day for the same period, the monthly savings could be $60, and yearly savings (with 3 percent interest) could be $732.

Savings over a three-year period (also at 3 percent interest) could add up to $2,261, and over a five-year period, $3,884.

During a 40-year career, depositing the lunch savings of $3 a day in an interest bearing account (at 3 percent interest) could yield $55,167.


To increase savings, Beech suggested cooking at home, rather than buying convenience items for lunches. Examples include cooking a chicken, ham or beef roast for sandwich meats rather than buying more expensive prepared luncheon meats, or portioning homemade pudding, gelatin or mixed fruit rather than buying prepackaged single-serve cups. Incorporating leftovers into lunches also can save time, she said.


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  1. Interesting story and one definitely saves by packing. But there’s a social component of dining out that is not easily calculated.

    As I work from home, I enjoy the occasional cafe lunch because it increases face time and social awareness of what is going on in community.


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