Bring Back the Brown Bag: Save Money on Lunch - Genisys® Credit Union

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Bring Back the Brown Bag: Save Money on Lunch

on 8/30/2017

Woman with Brown bag lunchMove over, breakfast! Lunch is the new king: recent studies show that taking a lunch break helps productivity in the afternoon and avoids long-term burnout.

But lunch’s sudden popularity is having negative effects on your pocketbook.  Americans are spending enormous amounts each week on dining out for lunch. 

Looking for an alternative to take-out Thai five times a week?

The best answer is the simplest: Brown-bag it. Studies show that eating out for lunch can cost between $1,500 and $2,500 per year. However, with some planning, you can save an average of $5 per day by brown bagging it.

Five meals a week, times $5 per meal, times 48 working weeks, equals only $1,200.  That frees up $1,300 in savings each year.  Interested? Here are some tips and benefits to jump-starting your new lunch habit!

Think DIY, Has Pinterest Taught Us Nothing?

In the land of lunch, sandwiches rule. One thing that can change, though, is pre-sliced deli meats, which can get very expensive.

There are a few alternatives.

  • Buy a 10 pound precooked ham in the meat section and have the deli counter slice it.  Most grocery stores will slice for free.  Then, take your sandwich slices home and freezer bag what you aren’t going to use right away.  This is a tremendous per pound savings on buying the deli counter or pre-packaged lunch meat.

  • Search for meal-prep menus.  There are some great solutions for different lunch ideas that are healthier too!  You can prepare an adult sized protein-packed prepared lunch, or prepare some yummy salads that rival the beloved menu at your favorite deli or restaurant.  You can prep your lunches for the week making it easy in the morning to grab your lunchbox and go!

 Plan Ahead

After your first few bagged lunches, you may start missing your old going-out-to-eat lifestyle but stay with it.  Luckily, there are some strategies to help you adjust to the change:

  1. Pack ahead.  Prepare the week’s lunch goodies if you go the meal prep route, or pack the night before.  Mornings can be hectic, and then you end up running out the door without packing your lunch… back to the vicious cycle, I’ll just go out to eat. 

      Prepare before and grab it from the fridge when you leave.

  1. Be prepared to say No.  Co-workers will still invite you to eat out so be ready to say No.  Or better yet, make a pact with your lunch crew.  If you all make the resolution to eat better and pack your lunches, the awkward declined lunch invite can be a non-issue.

  1. Don’t be chained to your desk.  Brown-bagging your lunch doesn’t mean being chained to your desk. Weather permitting, you can eat in a nearby park, or sit in your car.  Bring one of your usual lunch buddies to make it more enjoyable.  Still getting a “break” with your lunch will make the transition easier.

Maximize your Savings

So, you can easily save $1,300 a year by brown-bagging your lunches.   What are you going to do with your new found wealth?!   You could take a nice vacation or do some home improvements.  Another idea is to invest the savings.  

Let’s say you take that $1,300 a year when divided by your bi-weekly paycheck, gives you $54.  Let’s round that up to an even $60 and allocate it into a Money Market account, or certificate to earn some dividend interest. 

$60 per bi-weekly pay for a full year equals $1,560 which already gives you a $260 jump start from the original $1,300 saving.  For example, if the current certificate rate is around 2.00% APY, you could earn almost $140 over the term of the certificate.  Not too bad… that’s roughly 14 free lunches.

The brown bag lunch scene isn’t just for kids anymore!   For more information on our savings and certificate products to put your brown bag savings in, visit your local branch or call a Financial Services Representative at 248-322-9800 or 800-521-8440 ext. 5.      


© Genisys Credit Union and, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Genisys Credit Union and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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