How Much Did We Spend On Lunch?

As I looked over the 2007 income statement I wasn’t surprised by too many of the numbers. As usual we spent quite a bit of money on our two homes. Over $37,000 in interest payments alone. My husband’s new $10,000 camera equipment was a little higher than I expected, but we both see that as an investment towards a future career. For the most part we kept our discretionary expenses at a minimum. Books, clothing, furniture, and travel expenses were all quite low. Although I would, of course, like to see some of those categories even lower.

I was surprised by one and only one number: our food bill. My husband and I live alone, no children, no relatives. Our total food bill was roughly $10,500. $4000 was spent on groceries while $6000 was spent on eating out. Broken down $4000 averaged over 12 months is $333 and $6000 is roughly $500. Those numbers don’t seem as horrible, but the amazing thing about that figure is that my husband and I almost never go out for dinner.

Honestly, it’s not so much an issue of frugality as it is an issue of time. My husband and I often work late and drive long distances to and from work. Whoever arrives home first starts cooking dinner, in the hopes that it will be ready when the other spouse arrives home.

What’s amazing about the $500 a month figure is that the majority of these expenses come from purchasing weekday lunches. It’s $5 here, $7 there, and then a few weekend lunches and wham you’re up to $500 a month.

But the problem is I no longer see lunch as a clear discretionary expense. My husband and I both enjoy eating lunch out. Lunch provides a short escape from the work world with people who’s company we enjoy. Although I’m frugal in just about every other aspect of life this is one area I cannot seem to overcome. I realize this is probably the sign of a bigger problem, like the need to find a new job, but for now I need to decide is the brief escape from work worth $6000?

8 thoughts on “How Much Did We Spend On Lunch?”

  1. I used to throw lunch $ (when eating out) into my fun category and when I realized how quickly it added up – and that I really get tired of eating out more than a few times a month anyway – I cut a lot of it out.

    You can also see lunch out as a way to recharge and network, both of which are very valuable. 🙂

  2. Along with Elizabeth, I think the lunch expense could be something that’s vital to you. Being fiscally responsible doesn’t mean saving every penny, it means planning to spend your money. The breaks from the office might be necessary and valuable.*

    *This is not to give a freedom to everyone to eat out lunch if they like, only those that can afford it. If lunch is putting someone in debt, they’ll need to find other ways to network and recharge–or earn more money.

  3. Is there a company cafeteria? While working at once place I would go out to lunch with my co-workers. At first, I would just buy my lunch on those days we ate together. Then I just started bringing my food and maybe getting a snack while everyone else purchased something. After a while, others began to bring their lunch too and we would just go down and eat together. I began to see others who had brought their lunch eating with colleague who bought their lunch. I think I just never saw them before since I wasn’t looking for them.

  4. i agree with beth. you make money to spend it and you monitor your expenses so well, you can allow yourself some place to splurge a bit in the here and now. for instance, where you save on entertainment expenses like books, that’s where i choose to treat myself. so, if lunch is your treat to yourself for being frugal elsewhere and being a hardworking, tax-paying citizen, then eat away…

  5. I’m surprised, but happy, to read that you agree with my spending choices. Beth hit the nail on the head when she said ‘being fiscally responsible… means planning to spend your money.’ As a frugal fanatic I found it difficult but necessary to justify my lunch expenses. Instead I should keep in mind browngirl’s comment: we save in one aspect of our lives so we can spend in another.

    Thanks for the comments. Oh and calgirlfinance… I’m going to check out the cafeteria.

  6. I think I have more serious problem than you. My wife and I spend a lot in meals especially for lunch and dinner. I think it becomes a habit to reward ourselves with a luxurious meal after some hard work or any special occasions. You know, we work so hard and why can’t we just reward ourselves with a nice meal? This is one of my resolutions in 2008, to reduce my meals expenses. Btw, my luxurious meal can cause me 10 times more than normal meal. This is a lot.:)

  7. Lunch out costs a LOT of money, doesn’t it? I wonder what kinds of fancy and tasty delicacies you could make for yourself with that kind of money. (The biggest problem with that, of course, is that it also leads to an investment of time to make a fancy lunch for yourself.) There just seem to be very few ways around eating out without cashing in

  8. You may wish to consider packing a couple days a week, thereby making the times you eat out more of a treat. Also, my sister said that she and her co-workers have had several pot-luck lunches at work and have a great time.


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