Brown Bagging lunches can save $5 per day

When you run the calculations on how much money can be saved per year by brown bagging a lunch or dinner for work, the savings are substantial. We show the average savings on food expenses may be as much as $5 per day, or a total of ~$1300 per year (260 work days x $5) as reported by multiple studies. The exact amounts will of course vary by how many days a person works, how effectively they shop, and the price of restaurants or fast food in their town among other factors.

We have discovered many surveys of consumers both here in the US and oversees that have run studies on the savings experienced by the average family.

  • The Winnipeg Free Press in Canada estimates the savings at $1000 per year in direct food costs.
  • Lifehacker places the savings at about $1800 per year.
  • Another publication, How stuff works, says families can save around $1200 per month brown bagging a meal.
  • Livesimply estimates families can reduce their monthly bills by about $1600 per year.


There have been dozens of other studies on this issue. So using a good sample, we place the savings on annual food bills at $1300. But this varies widely. It depends on how many days per week you work, the amount of calories you need and other factors.

Not only may brown bagging a meal save you money over both the short and long term, it is much healthier as well. Eating and living healthier will also help families save money on expenses such as health care bills, insurance, medications, and more. Many companies even offer discounts on medical and dental plans if you eat well. So the benefits add up, and read more on eating healthy on an affordable budget.

Brown bagging can often even lead to more potential opportunities at work and a higher income as well. Since you will be eating healthier, you are less likely to be sick at work. And whether you want to admit it it or not, there is a bias in the workplace on appearance regarding weight. Someone that is in overweight or obese will have less opportunity than someone that is healthy. There are studies on this as well on this topic, including from Fairygodboss. they report that hiring managers are much less likely to hire an obese person. Maybe the fitter looking person will get that big promotion over you, or they get that job offer and you don’t. While that is not right, it is the way the world often works.

So this $1300 dollars in annual savings by brown bagging your lunch/dinner is really on the low end. When factoring is savings on other bills such as medical (and others noted above), the annual savings for brown bagging a lunch may approach multiple thousands of dollars. As heating healty does save on overall health care costs, and brown bagging a lunch allows you to eat more food to your liking. When a family is living on a tight budget, this is a lot of money that can be allocated to paying other bills. In fact, it is a lot of extra money for even moderate or high income households!

All throughout this blog we will continue to post tips, suggestions, and advice on any number of topics. This will deal with more of those day to day challenges faced by low income families, such as saving money on food and meal costs at work. These tips, when combined with the information on financial assistance programs, can benefit millions of people. And to think, just doing something as simple as brown bagging a meal at work can save thousands of dollars per year…that is powerful stuff.

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