Recently my son and I went to a fast-food restaurant for hamburgers. For just a bacon cheeseburger, without grilled onions or portobello mushrooms, without fries or a drink, was $8.

The sandwich was okay, but not worth eight bucks. My son got a sandwich, fries and a dessert for over $14.

The next morning I thought about the folks who buy lunches like these every workday. Just do the math. $8 a day X 5 days a week X 50 weeks (with 2 weeks vacation) = $2,000 a year. Plug in the amount you pay for lunch daily and see how much you spend in a year. Just for lunch.

Quite frankly, buying lunches is buying convenience. It is harder to build wealth if you are buying convenience.

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Did your Mom ever fix sack lunches for school? How much would a sack lunch cost?

I did this experiment with an Albertsons grocery store. Let’s make a lunch of a ham and cheese sandwich, yogurt, hard-boiled egg, fruit and a couple small pieces of candy. Here’s how it came out:

  • Loaf of white bread: $2.99, 20 slices not counting the heels
  • Sliced Ham: $5.99, about 40 slices
  • Cheese Slices: $2.99, 10 slices
  • Dozen Eggs: $2.89
  • Yogurt: $.59 to .79
  • Bananas: $.65 a pound, 6 bananas at 2.5 pounds = $1.63
  • Chocolate Mini-Bars: $4.99 for 9.7 oz. bag, approx. 20 pieces
    • Total: $22.27

Whoa, that’s not cheaper!

Slow down, that’s inflation talking. Let’s break these prices down per pieces into the lunch:

  • 2 slices Bread: $.30
  • 4 slices Ham: $.60
  • Slice of Cheese: $.30
  • 1 Egg: $.24
  • 1 container Yogurt: $.79, let's splurge a bit.
  • A Banana: $.27
  • Couple Chocolate Mini-bars: $.50
  • Throw in a plastic container for the sandwich and a spoon for the yogurt.
    • New Total: $3.00

Is this more affordable than a fast-food meal? Also, is it more nutritious? I used a pricier grocery store in the area. What if you shopped at Wal-mart or Thrifty’s grocer?
Now let’s compare the math: $3.00 X 5 days a week X 50 weeks a year = $750

$2,000 - $750 = $1,250 of savings in a year.
Now I’m not saying skip restaurants altogether; just don’t make a habit out of it. It should be a treat, not a way of life.
Now this does require some work preparing the lunches. So I ask you, is the savings worth the effort?

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