If your goal is to save money the first and easiest way, we are often told, is to make your lunch not buy it. The logic is sound if you are spending $10 on eating out per day it won’t take long before a large chunk of your salary is going towards your lunch. By bringing in leftovers you could easily save, or so it seems. The truth is there are many ways to budget and by looking at finances alone you are missing an important part, time. If you choose to eat out more often at lunchtime you may be saving time. Depending on your situation that could be valuable.
The first thing to do is to work out what a typical week would cost you buying lunches versus making them. See if it really is cheaper. The truth is that lunch options in the city often have great deals and making a nutritious meal at home can be expensive. So make sure you would be saving a lot of money before entertaining the idea of switching to homemade lunches.
The second thing to do is consider your time. If buying lunch out saves you time in the evenings and allows you to get 7 hours of sleep and go to the gym, maybe that is the best option. If you have to go home to prepare food and then decide not to go to the gym or to stay up late, maybe it is not right for you.
Finally going out for lunch on your own or with colleagues can be a great reason to get out of the office to have some fresh air and unwind. I have seen some people who bring in their own lunches who say they go for a walk anyway, but I have also seen that fall apart when they get too busy. Having to go out for lunch forces you out in the air and is a great stress release.
The real answer is to do what suits you best and makes the most financial and emotional sense. If you are saving about 20% of your income then you shouldn’t worry too much about your lunches.