Does bringing lunch to work actually save money?

Does bringing your lunch to work actually save you money? I recently read an interesting statistic that said Americans, on average, spend around $3,000 a year on lunches. That is a mix of eating out and eating in when at work. That is a lot of money. And, if you’re not careful and aware of…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: September 3, 2023

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Does bringing your lunch to work actually save you money?

I recently read an interesting statistic that said Americans, on average, spend around $3,000 a year on lunches. That is a mix of eating out and eating in when at work.

Does bringing your lunch to work actually save you money? Here is my analysis on how to save money on lunch and other factors to think about.That is a lot of money. And, if you’re not careful and aware of your spending, that’s an area that can creep up on you and lead to something disastrous, such as credit card debt.

And, that’s the thing about buying lunch at work – it’s a small purchase that doesn’t seem like it would add up to much.

The cost of going out to eat for lunch can vary – you may spend $5 on a sandwich or you may go to a restaurant and spend $20.

Now, bringing lunch to work isn’t free either.

But, bringing lunch to work has the potential to save the average person at least $100 a month, if you know what you are doing.

Related: 10 Budget Lunch Ideas and Cheap Easy Meals You Should Try

Just like the cost of buying lunch adds up, so does the savings of bringing it from home. Let’s do the math – if you are able to save just $100 a month by bringing your lunch, that could be an extra $1,200 a year or $12,000 every 10 years.

I’m not saying that you have to bring your lunch 100% of the time. I understand that it can be fun to eat at a tasty restaurant, and there may be other positives of going out to eat, such as socializing with coworkers.

Whenever I hear the tip “bring your lunch to work” I always read the comments, and many of them are pretty negative – that bringing your lunch doesn’t save you money, blah blah blah. As someone who believes that it DOES save money, I decided to look further into this and see why it seems like so many people hate this money saving tip.

I decided to get help from you, my readers, and asked the question “Does bringing lunch to work save money?”

I asked this question on my Facebook page as well as in my private community group.

Here are some of the responses I received:
  • “Bringing lunch definitely saves money in our household, we make large meals (just my husband and I to eat), and portion leftovers to eat for lunch, as well as leftovers for other meals. You can eat a roast for days by making leftovers into new meals and/or lunches!” – Jennifer C.
  • “Saves about $35-$50 depending on what I bring.” – Zack B.
  • “I don’t work outside the home anymore, but when I did I always brought my lunch, except for maybe 5-8 times a year – it’s a lot cheaper to cook – just today I was at an outside market and one Vietnamese roll was $4. I remembered I had the rice wrapper, some turkey, all kinds of veggies and sauces – came home and made 2 nice ones at no extra cost.” – Marguerite T.
  • “It saves a little but not much for us. My husband is cheap and would eat Costco pizza or subway so it’s $5 per day at most usually. But he usually takes leftovers.” – Aileen B.
  • “I pack food specifically for lunches every week. It saves so much more than the money that it takes to go out to eat which is usually $5-15 depending on where we go. It takes gas for me to leave work. Going anywhere for lunch from my office takes 30-40 minutes just to leave, get food from a drive thru, and bring it back to eat it at my desk. The time saved is the best part for me because during my lunch I work on blog stuff at my office desk.” – Elyse L.
  • “If my husband and I both eat lunch out it’s about $9-$12 a day. We quit eating out all together and have finally been able to get our bills back on track. It’s amazing how much money we wasted eating lunch out.” – Deb S.
  • “It does save money, but not a lot. The only way it’ll make a difference in your future is if you invest the savings, which almost no one does. That being said, I try to bring my lunch at least several times a week, and typically save about $5/day. Just be careful that you’re packing healthy stuff. I like frozen meals that are typically loaded with sodium so I try to limit myself to one per week. Also, sometimes you need to treat yourself. If you’re working 40-50 hours a week, sometimes you deserve sushi or a good sandwich to brighten your day a little. That’s why I typically buy around twice a week (always on Friday!!).” – Brian R.
  • “We have vending machines that charge around $2.50 per sandwich. Chips are around $1.00 A pop costs $1.40. If you get a cookie or treat it’s $1.00. So $6 a day times five days equals $30.00. I can eat for 2 weeks lunch for that.” – Jill H.
  • “Easily saves $30 bucks a week. I just make a little extra dinner and he takes leftovers pretty much every day.” – Kelly W.
  • “Yes! I’d estimate it saves me on average about $50 a week! And that adds up.” – Jenifer S.
  • “Need to make sure you stick to it and the food doesn’t just go off before you eat it. For me, it’s been a waste. $5 sandwich for lunch is fine.” – Gavin M.

The majority of my readers said that bringing lunch to work did, in fact, save them money.

Cost savings of bringing lunch to work.

For the most part, and for the average person, money can be saved by bringing lunch to work.

According to USA Today, eating out for lunch, on average, costs $11 per meal. Whereas it’s only $6.30, on average, if you prepare your own lunch. And, I know many people who are able to get this down even lower.

Other findings from that same survey:

  • Nearly $3,000 is spent each year on lunch alone.
  • Men and students are groups that are more likely to eat out for lunch.
  • Students spend on average $27.47 per week.
  • Men spend an average of $24.93 per week.
  • Women spend on average $15.55 per week.

Surprisingly, according to the USDA, in 2014, Americans spent 5.5% of their disposable personal incomes on food at home and 4.3% on food away from home. That means a very similar amount of money each month is spent on groceries as with eating at restaurants.

Socializing with coworkers.

One reader responded to my question with:

“Absolutely it saves money but at my last employer going to lunch with coworkers kept you part of the “team” and in a better position for job success. Those who didn’t go were not kept in the upward track so saving money by bringing lunch had a negative long term impact on income.” – Donna T.

I have heard others say this as well.

I hardly ever went out to eat with coworkers at any of the jobs I’ve ever held, and I still have long lasting friendships. So, I can say that this isn’t true for everyone.

There are other ways to form friendships. And, you can still go out occasion if you want to socialize with your coworkers at lunch time.

You can spend the time side hustling.

I almost always brought my lunch to work when I had a day job so that I could spend the time side hustling at my desk instead. That was an extra five hours each week that I could focus on my side job, and making extra money!

By bringing lunch to work, I was able to save a decent amount of time each day and each week.

And, I didn’t really spend too much time at home making my lunch each day. I usually either prepped my lunch for the week ahead of time, took leftovers, or made something easy to bring to work each day.

Going to lunch may not actually save you any time.

I’ve heard people say “Going out to eat saves me time because I don’t have to make my food.”

I used to believe this as well.

However, it’s not always true. When going out to lunch, you spend time driving to the lunch spot, waiting for your food to be made, paying your bill, and driving back to work after lunch.

This is all valuable time, and it’s probably more time than it would take you to make your lunch for work.

You can save a lot of time making your lunch by taking leftovers from a previous dinner. To make this easier, you may even want to make a little extra for dinner so that you know that you will have enough for leftovers for lunch, and when you’re cleaning up dinner, pack your leftovers up for lunch. You can also meal prep for the whole week by making a whole week’s worth of lunches on Sunday, before your work week even starts. Another option is keeping it simple, like packing a sandwich and some fruit.

You’re spending money on gas going to and from the lunch spot.

Another factor about spending money on lunch is that it costs money to drive to and from a restaurant, deli, or wherever you’re getting lunch from. You may be someone that works within walking distance of a lunch spot, or have a short drive around the corner, but many people drive 10-15 minutes a way to get lunch.

This can eat up a lot of time, as well as fuel!

What do you think? Does bringing lunch to work save you money?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle

    I definitely think it saves money. But for my husband, it’s the social aspect that he needs and enjoys. If he doesn’t go out with people, everyone just sits at their desk and in their offices all day.

    To combat the impact of his occasional lunches out (probably twice a week out), he uses his fun money, which is our separate budgets specifically set for us to use on whatever we want. So I can go get a coffee with a friend and he can go out to eat with his co-workers, without messing up our monthly budget. Win-win!!

    1. Ted Divest

      If he is the one working its his money not fun money — its all his money like it or not.

      1. HS

        I am the only one earning, hubby doesn’t earn income. It’s still ‘our” money.

  2. Bringing my lunch to work definitely saved me money. This year I ate out more for lunch, and admittedly dinner, and found that I’ve overspent my food budget by $300! That never happened before. But I never ate out as much as I did this year.

    1. It’s an area I need to work on.

  3. Andrea

    Agree 100% that packing lunch save money! My husband and I have an agreement that if I pack his lunch he won’t spend money on eating out. I just pack his (and mine before I started working from home ) along with the kids every evening and then don’t have to worry about extra money being spent while he is at work.

  4. Renee

    It saves money. Here in California it’s expensive to even eat fast food. I vacationed in North Carolina last year and found restaurant prices to be 30-40% cheaper. I typically bring my lunch, but if I’m out running errands I can grab a burger from In and Out for under $3, or a bean burrito from Taco Bell for $1.30. I can’t imagine spending $8-11 for lunch every day. Also…going out to dinner is expensive. We try and find places in the 20-30 range vs. $60-80. I always think…crap…we could have bought a weeks worth of groceries for the price of that meal! I’m trying to pay the house off early and save for retirement, so every penny counts.

    1. Yes, food in California is more expensive!

  5. I definitely agree that it’s cheaper!!! My old job offered a catered lunch for $3 which I thought was reasonable. You got a ton of food and could usually take half home for dinner! But, going out is always more than bringing a sandwich and an apple from home. When I had an office job, we’d go out to eat on Friday’s. I usually went and would order a water to drink and something small to eat, rarely spending more than $7.

  6. When I was working an office job I never really thought it saved too much. I was living in AUstralia though, and everything was a bit more expensive. I found myself just going to SUbway a lot around the corner for cheap footlongs for 8 bucks, and splitting that into two different meals. 4 AUD a meal seemed pretty great to me, lol

  7. Heather @ bizewife

    I try to preserve my work socialization for happy hours where I know I won’t be spending as much money as I would have on a full lunch (unless I have a hard day and need lots of liquid therapy hehe).

    Lunch bringer here. There’s food at my job most days of the week, so I try to take advantage of that as well. Brings down grocery expenses. When I forget to bring, I try to go to Whole Foods instead of a restaurant, but that is often ridiculously expensive as well. Damn you, you delicious prepared foods priced by weight section!

    1. It seems like more companies are starting to provide food.

  8. Leftovers from dinner is my favorite way πŸ™‚

  9. The money saved on bringing lunch is huge. I estimate $40-$50 a week in NYC. There are also health benefits as I cook healthier food then I went out for. I still go out on occasion to be social and think that once in a while it’s worth the cost. I wish I had started bringing my lunch much earlier than I did.

  10. Like others have commented I agree that it’s cheaper to pack food from home, but more importantly, it’s because eating leftovers means less food waste. Not only is that good for the budget, but also for the planet! The amount of food that gets thrown away is insane and very unfortunate. My parents grew up poor and even though we are financially well off now, they always always emphasize not letting stuff go to waste.

    1. Yes, I agree! So much food gets thrown away.

  11. Anastasia Kingsey

    Hi Michelle,

    It definitely does. My brother is a big man and spent $35-50 on lunches. He saved this money over the course of a year and bought himself a used truck!
    I did something similar – bought a Starbucks coffee only on Friday’s – that was my weekly splurge πŸ™‚

  12. Oh my gosh this is SO TRUE. I usually bring leftovers for lunch. When I do buy lunch out, it’s usually a whopping $10, which is way too much to spend every day! I freelance write and blog from my gym, which amazingly has work stations and a microwave, so it really saves me money to bring both breakfast and lunch here πŸ™‚ Food is so crazy expensive!

    1. Yes, when I get lunch, it’s always so expensive!

  13. Anita

    Where my husband works they have a canteen in the same building with subsidise food. He usually takes a roll except the warm food is really alluring. He usually spends 30 – 40 Euro/month for this food. He is socializing with his colleagues and I don’t cook a warm meal but bake bread in the evening what costs less. He could take leftovers with him since the canteen has microwaves for the employees. But 40 Euro/month isn’t much since I save money with the evening meal then. And I really enjoy to don’t have to cook πŸ˜€ It’s worth the expense for me.

  14. Sarah | Smile & Conquer

    Packing lunch definitely saves money but it’s still something I struggle with. I work in a small tight knit office and we have a deal that we got out for lunch together once a week. It for sure adds up but I’d be lying if I said I hated it. I guess it’s a cost I’m willing to take on, I certainly don’t want to be the only person skipping out. Cost of doing business I guess πŸ˜‰

    1. Once a week isn’t really that much πŸ™‚

  15. Work lunches are under discussed, they do save tons of money. One of the reasons why my husband chose his current company was because they provided 3 square meals free. That’s one of the frugal bibles best tricks. After tax awesome belly fillers! πŸ™‚

    The food at work is great but it’s so suprising there’s still people that only go out for lunch. Some people are savers and some are spenders!

  16. Mike at Budget Kitty

    I almost always bring my lunch to work and it saves me a lot of money. To buy lunch in the company cafeteria I spend about $9-$10, and if I go out it costs more like $10-$15. Instead we just cook a little extra for dinner and I pack up the leftovers for lunch. It requires a little extra planning but it saves me a good deal of money.

  17. This is always something I did when I was working my corporate job. I spent the lunch hour doing my blogging side hustle (loved how you mentioned that!), I actually feel like I was able to get a lot done because I knew I only had that time. I wrote most of my book during that time, so not only did I save tons of money but I used the time wisely.

  18. Mostly Sane Mama

    I have always felt the cost savings is huge and I do work and accomplish a great deal during my lunch. Like with so many other aspects of managing family life, planning is the key. When I make sure that I plan out the meals ahead of time and do my weekly food prep on the weekend I am able to stick to packed lunches regardless of how my morning goes. I prepare meals with leftovers in mind and have veggies and fruits prepared and divided into servings so they can be grabbed at the last minute. Then there is no excuse left. I save money and I eat healthier. A win win.

  19. Packing lunch saved me a *ton* of money over the years. My co-workers would regularly go out to Noodles, Panera, or other “fast-casual” chains where a single meal can put you in the $8-10 range.

    When I’d cook for my wife and kids, I’d just make the meal big enough that we’d have 2-3 lunches worth of leftovers. I got to eat my favorite foods for more days and our dinners were certainly cheaper than $8-10 a serving! If I had to guess, I’d say we were more in the $2-4 range.

    In addition, food from home is healthier and much more convenient. I’m totally with you on the time saved. Without driving, ordering, and waiting for the food to arrive, I’d save a good 30-45 minutes by eating in. In addition, I’d often work through lunch (just taking 5 minutes to go heat it up), which meant I could head out of the office that much earlier.

    I’m surprised at the backlash against bringing food from home. I ate out early in my career but stopped a number of years ago when we wanted to be more serious about our finances and it’s had a huge impact. I never felt it impacted my ability to get promotions or raises!

  20. Damn Millennial

    I think it saves money but its not a game changer. If you are grinding for every dollar then you shouldn’t be eating out. If you are on track to meet your goals and want to go grab lunch with some work friends don’t miss out on a chance to network and be social.

    I think it saves more money long term if you pack a healthy lunch for your health more then anything.

  21. I know for a fact that bringing my lunch to work has saved me a lot of money. Back in the day, I used to go to restaurants several times a week. My account suffered because of that.When I started bringing my lunch to work, I realized that I was saving more money.

  22. Oh yes bring lunch at work not only is savvy, but is also healtier option becaus eyou know exactly the ingredients that are inside and believe me do meal plan ang go to grocery store with full stomach helps you to have healty diet and save money on food still having deliocus dishes:D

  23. Bringing your own lunch definitely saves money and time. I usually cook meals for 2-3 days, so I don’t have to cook everyday.

    What I like about about my workplace, most of people bring their own lunch. We’ve got a canteen with a microwave, so we go to eat together every day, we take out our own boxes and we socialize without spending additional money.

  24. Chris

    I’m surprised by the estimate of $6.30 for a meal made at home. I have to wonder, are these folks eating filet mignon for lunch every day? I figure that my lunches that I eat at home probably cost around $2 each on average, and I could think of ways to cut that even lower. I do know that cutting back on eating out has the potential to save quite a bit each month.

  25. Cara @ Finances for Families

    Great article. I hadn’t considered the time spent on driving to/from lunch and the gas $…that all adds up too! In my house the leftovers (from dinner the night before) are always the most coveted lunch to take for the day!

  26. Adrian – Investor Tuition

    Some good advice from your readers. Having been an adviser for many years and now teaching advisers, I have always stressed the importance of the ‘little bit, consistently” theory. And yes taking lunch fits into the theory. Importantly though I will always recommend to ‘cash out’ any saving you make.

    That is, if you save 12 bucks per week taking your lunch, take that amount from your account and transfer into a savings account. I believe it’s important to actually visualize your savings for it to be effective. Same with that ubiquitous daily coffee saving, and catching public transport, and you know all the others. “When you save money, save the money” is my motto.

    Regards Adrian

  27. The largest everyday expense cuts that we made to allow my wife to stay home from work and raise our sons were housing, travel and food. Eating a homemade lunch vs. going out to restaurants accounts for most of the food savings. A $10 every day does not seem like much. When you multiply that amount by ~250 work days and two people the amount really adds up.

  28. I’m surprised this article didn’t cover the health aspect. When I started working, my parents started noticing I was gaining weight, my skin didn’t look good and I was getting sick more often. They said I should stop eating out so often – it wasn’t good for my health. And I took it to heart. When I prepare my meals at home, I know exactly what goes in all my food. My skin looks great and I have more energy.I still eat out to socialize with friends, but as long as most of my food is unprocessed and home cooked, it’s just an indulgence, not going to wreak havoc. Thanks for the great article!

  29. Bringing lunch definitely saves me money. I have an expensive commute to work so where I can squeeze out a few dollars from the budget, I try. And +1 on the health aspect to. I’m sure I was eating way too much salt from the hot bar downstairs.

    I know I have a bit more squeezing to do in my budget (*cough* snacks *cough*), but also bringing my own beverages has cut some of the expenses too.

  30. FIways and Byways

    There are two advantages to me. The first is the health aspect. I can much easier control what I eat when I bring my own lunch. If I do eat out, the cost to eat “healthy” seems to be much higher than the cheap options. The second advantage is the cost. As I mentioned, a healthy choice is usually the more expensive.

    I am not in an office all day and my interaction is with clients and.not coworkers so the social aspect is not an issue. I do get to eat with my team once a month as a meeting meal and we are able to expense it as such. In this case, I can choose a healthy option and not worry about the cost. πŸ™‚

  31. Moira

    Great article. It seems that money can definitely be saved by bringing lunch to work, and I like the different points you discuss to support this.

    I also agree that bringing lunch is often the healthier option. I usually make better food choices when I bring my lunch to work and his has supported my weight loss. (But sometimes buying is just soooo much easier…:)


  32. Hai!

    It does save you a lot of money. If you consider eating from a restaurant and you wanna dine at a decent place, then some considerable amount will have to be given. Instead, if you can adjust with homemade food which does not cost much overall, in the long run, you can save a lot! Homemade food is also safer and healthy! You get to save your precious office hours too!

  33. MoneyValueTime

    Bring that lunch!

    1. Given the amount of consumer debt being carried, the true cost of eat out and putting this on a credit card is even higher for some when you consider added interest charges.

    2. Making your own lunch is also as much a mental discipline process as it is a financial savings.

    3. Lastly, going out for lunch and having to decide then and there where to go and what to order drains willpower right when you need it most during the working day. If you bring a lunch, there’s no deciding, and no drain on willpower. If you’re low on willpower, you are much less likely to eat a healthy lunch and may spend more than you would otherwise.

    Build it into the morning routine and reap the benefits!

  34. Poppy

    I pack a lunch every day without fail. I take the bus to work, and I don’t have time to go out on my lunch break and buy lunch. The nearest place is close to drive, but too far to walk. So by taking the bus, I am saving money in more ways than one. My boyfriend on the other hand buys his lunch once a week, and more often if I don’t make it for him. Lately he’s buying it twice a week. I don’t like that, because I feel that it costs him too much money. Back when he bought a lunch every day, he was spending $400 on lunches out and then complained when he didn’t have any money. Hi co-wokers buy breakfast and lunch every day, until they run out of money and go to the soup kitchen. My bf who makes much much less than them, has never had to do that. So it does save money.

  35. Great blog! Nine times out of ten, I bring my lunch to work. Not only does it save me money but it also gives me time to work on my freelance gig, allowing me to reclaim time in the evenings that would otherwise be spent working after leaving my day job. That, or if I eat at my desk, I can spend my lunch break running errands (such as going to the bank or post office). I tend to eat much less and much healthier when I cook and bring my own food β€” the key is preparing foods you actually enjoy. My job offers $3 catered lunches four days a week but even that adds up: $12 a week turns to $48 a month, which becomes $576 a year. For some people, that may not seem like a lot but I’m a habitual saver so it feels good knowing I’m saving more than $500 a year just by not eating food provided by the company. I understand the desire for socialization. Many of my coworkers go out to eat everyday. I might join them once a month and it’s usually only on payday. I order water, stay away from appetizers and try to find something large enough that I can save for dinner.

  36. Mr Fundamental


    Actually, bringing your lunch to work doesn’t save any money at all. It is actually pretty lame.


    1. Lisa M

      100% agree.

      People at work look at me like I am crazy because I meal prep breakfast/lunch/dinner.

      I love to cook, and so on Sunday, I make inexpensive lunches for myself and my husband.

      This week is tilapia, quinoa, roasted root vegetables for lunch for me. For breakfast, I eat 2 hard boiled eggs and a banana. So, for me, breakfast and lunch combined comes out to about $2.50 for the day, I keep my calories under my goal of 600 for lunch/breakfast combined, and I eat it outside in about 15 minutes. This leaves me 45 minutes to take a walk at lunch, which I take advantage of. If I had to leave work in my car, drive to a lunch location, spend 6-7 USD for a lunch that likely is not remotely healthy and the lunch itself blows my 450 calorie goal out of the water.

      Alternatively, my husband needs A LOT of calories to maintain his weight, so he gets brown rice, roasted chicken thighs, steamed spinach, homemade yogurt with a berry reduction, an apple, a boiled egg, and a brownie. In total, his lunch costs about $3.00 to make, meets his goal of 800 calories for lunch, and also meets his macros. Again, this much food would cost significantly more if he ate out, and would not be nearly as healthy. He also eats at his desk for 15 minutes, then uses his full hour to hit the gym at his work.

      So, we are both more fit. far healthier, and a bit wealthier because we bring our lunch and generally breakfast as well. If we eat out, it’s not more than once per week, and we are far less fat than our colleagues, who grab a fast food sandwich and a soda every day. They always say “who has the time”. It takes me less than 2 hours to prep enough food for 21 meals for the week. I’m pretty sure they spend more than 2 hours total in a drive-through or travelling to a food place for takeout.

  37. Jenny from the north

    Prior to retiring I worked in several high tech companies and we never had an hour for lunch. Thirty minutes was standard, so going out wasn’t an option unless there was some drive through option 5 minutes away and they you’d each as you drove or back at your desk. Some companies had a cafeteria that was an option, but still expensive (they were generally operated by an outside 3rd party for profit). The norm in every place I worked was for most people to bring lunch and warm it up in the office kitchen (multiple fridges and microwaves). There were also tables and chairs for those wanting to each with coworkers rather than at their desk. My last office was in a tower downtown so there was a coffee/sandwich place in the lobby of the building and 100s of similar places within a few blocks of the front door. Virtually everyone in the office commuted in from the suburbs by public transit so jumping in a car at lunch wasn’t a thing. Since we were packing school lunches for kids, packing something for ourselves was no big deal. As a couple who loved to travel and with our eyes firmly on early retirement a $20 lunch in my mind was a forfeited admission to the Louve in Paris. If you have clearly defined financial goals it’s easy to cut the non-essentials from your routine. Eating out ultimately was FAR less important than our other priorities. If eating out at lunch makes your life full then go for it. If it’s just habit or laziness then maybe a rethink is in order. Generally my husband an I took dinner leftovers, with sandwiches like the kids as Plan B. Lots of veggie sticks, fruit, cheese and crackers etc. It doesn’t have to be complicated. When dinner is done pack up the leftovers into your lunch containers and you are ready for the morning. I also kept cans of soup, granola bars and dried fruit and nuts in my desk drawer. If I overslept or forgot my lunch there was still no need to buy a meal. FYI – retired mortgage free at 53 and covid aside have been happily travelling the world. When travelling lunch is often a trip to the local market for picnic ingredients – still refusing to pay for a prepared meal if there is a cheaper, healthier alternative.