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# Tip #1: Pack lunches for the rest of the week

The first tip is to go to the grocery store today and pack lunches for yourself all week. Sounds obvious, but below I’ll include some specific tips and social-psychological techniques to make this actually work.

This tip reminds me of something I heard in college from a professor of mine, who made the point that lots of people look down on fields like communication and psychology because they seem self-evident. “Communication is measured by the usefulness of the theory, not the difficulty,” she told me. It’s easy to look down on tips like “pack your lunch” because it’s so obvious, but it actually works.

How much you’re currently spending
Let’s look how much NOT packing a lunch is costing you. I’ll assume you eat out 3 times per week for lunch.

##### Quiz: What is your earning potential? Choose the answer you agree with the most

Current lunch spending: (Eat out 3x/week) * (4 weeks in a month) * (\$12 each lunch net with tax) = \$144 per month on eating out

New spending to eat out: (Eat out 2x/week) * (4 weeks) * (\$8 net with tax) = \$64.

New spending to pack lunches: (Pack lunch once/week) * (4 weeks) * (\$5 cost per packed lunch) = \$20.

So \$144 – \$64 – \$20 = \$60 in savings.

Because you can break down the variables above (# of times you eat out vs. amount you spend on each lunch vs. cost of packing your own lunch), you can tweak each of them. For example, maybe you want to eat out 4 times per week but it will only cost you \$2 each time. In that case, enjoy the week-old rotten vegetables you’re buying. But if you tend to eat out at expensive restaurants with co-workers, maybe you limit it to once per week. Up to you.

Note that I didn’t suggest going cold-turkey on eating out for lunch…because that will last about a week, then you’ll give up. This is the key point I made in Set smaller goals: impress friends, get girls, lose weight. You can get better sustainable change if you slowly optimize, rather than quitting cold turkey.

Here’s the concrete tip for today:

1. Decide how many lunches you’re going to pack each week. More = save more money.
2. Go to the grocery store today.
3. Buy food for your lunches this week. If you want to shop for other stuff, that’s fine, but the purpose of this trip is to get food for your lunches. If you accomplish just that, you accomplished your goal.
4. Let’s say you decided to pack 3 lunches each week. Put 3 bags on your table and fill it with 3 bananas, 3 bags of chips, 3 whatever. This takes advantage of our laziness to pack lunch each day. Instead, by doing it this way, you batch the unpleasantness of preparing lunch. Now, each morning, just open up the fridge, take your bag, and you’re done. (Bonus tip: To psychologically commit yourself to actually taking the bag, write “Monday,” “Wednesday,” and “Thursday” on the bag.)
5. For the days you decided to go to lunch, GO! This month, I want you to be strategic about eating out, so it’s not just something you do because you forgot your lunch, shrugged your shoulders, and go drop \$10 for your lack of planning. If you decide you’re eating out on Tuesday and Friday, enjoy it — you planned for it.
6. If a co-worker invites you to lunch, be prepared to say no. Try this: Thanks, I’d love to go, but I’m taking this 30-day challenge to save \$1,000, so I’m not eating out as much. (This is related to inoculation theory in psychology.)
7. Be sure to read to the end of this post (“Last things to do”). Leave a comment describing how much you’re saving with this tip.

* * *

Last thing to do
Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip. Each day, I’ll ask you to post how much you’ve saved cumulatively. Use this as a way to track your own progress (it will also encourage others to join)

### Do you know your actual earning potential?

Get started with the Earning Potential quiz. Get a custom report based on your unique strengths, and discover how to start making extra money — in as little as an hour.

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1. ##### Liz Dennis

I have packed lunches for years and will continue to do so. Mostly I take left overs from dinner the night before so nothing is wasted.

2. ##### Chris

Here’s my problem with suggestions like this – while they are useful and extremely effective if you follow through, *I’m already doing them*. I pack my lunch almost every single day of the year and I almost always cook meals at home instead of ordering out. Sure, I could save some extra cash by not eating out the 1 day every 6 weeks or so that I currently do, but then life would be pretty sad, right?

One of the first tips in weight loss programs has similar problems – the first thing you heard is “stop drinking calories. Cut out all soda or switch to diet.” I haven’t drunk soda in years! I barely drink anything except water.

What am I supposed to do when all the advice out there is stuff that I’m already doing?

• ##### Dustin

I have experienced this problem a lot over the years. What I recommend people to keep in mind is that there is a right and a wrong way to do everything. Simply pre-packing your lunches and not eating out will not always save you money. It helps, but you still have to be smart about how much your spending on each of your meals while keeping them nutritious.

As for weight loss, I lost 60 pounds in 5 months, by eating consistently and preventing myself from snacking.

Every weekday I would drink 1cup(250ml) of pure fruit juice and then eat a banana on the way to work. At work, I would eat one apple 1 or 2 hours before lunch. Lunch would be 2 homemade salad wraps with no sauces and only 1 serving size of cheese(if any). They were delicious. I would also bring some carrots and grapes to munch on. When I got home, then only meal I’d was dinner. and only one plate with no seconds(sometimes you need to shrink your stomach because you are used to stuffing yourself too much). Try to do serving sizes, but sticking to one plate helps too. After dinner If I needed to snack, I would limit it to celery and after 2-3 weeks it was easy to stick to. I looked forward to the juice in the morning and appreciated each meal. it taught me to view food as nourishment.

• ##### Silver

I have a friend who packs lunch everyday as well. But I’m the one still loosing weight and saving money. The difference is that her lunches include pre-packaged snacks like granola & pudding, microwavable dinners, bars, etc. All that food made me sick. My lunches were raw vegetables and chopped up fruit and left over baked chicken or fish from home. Vegetables and fruit are cheap. I got them cheaper when I started shopping at the farmer’s market for them. Also got them 100% organic. I also didn’t buy them for lunches at work, but fit them into my general grocery budget. What goal are you trying to accomplish? There is a way to improve on anything.

3. ##### Laura

This tip will save me \$15.92 by reducing my runs to Panera.

4. ##### Ramit Sethi

Chris, thanks for the comment. Sit tight. You’re already ahead of a lot of people, so some of the tips won’t apply to you. But some will, and that’s how you can save even more.

Btw, if you have tips, please submit them here!

5. ##### Jon

Chris, if you have already cut down your spending as much as you can, then the next thing you need to focus on is making more money.

6. ##### Mike

Your life ‘would be pretty sad’ if you perceive it that way.
Many people don’t eat out at all and don’t feel that their life is sad.

7. ##### Richard

Obviously you need to take extra home-cooked food to work and sell it for a profit 🙂

It is good advice of course. This should be an interesting series but if I cut \$1000/month from my spending I’ll be living in my car.

8. ##### Rizwan

Great tip! Since I already do this I am one step ahead. I actually keep some bagels and peanut butter in the office fridge to keep the hunger cravings down and don’t have to visit the deli if I get hungry before lunch. Saving more money.

A side effect of this tip for workaholics like me is that you can get a lot of work done during the lunch hour since a lot of people eat out and it is very quiet in the office.

Can’t wait till tomorrow.

9. ##### Today's Budget

I’m with Chris on this one. I telecommute meaning that I never eat out for lunch (or breakfast or dinner for that matter). I’m able to feed a family of five on \$100 – \$125/week, so no savings for me on today’s tip. Maybe tomorrow will bring a tip I haven’t already implemented.

10. ##### shawnna

i already do this one… i only eat lunch out twice a month right now. i suppose i could eat cheaper lunches… somehow.

11. ##### Jenni

I definitely do this! Buying food “in bulk” at the grocery store costs less, and can be healthier if that’s a goal of yours. Also, it doesn’t mean you have to eat alone! I bring my lunch to the student union building while some of my friends purchase food.

If I bought food (just food, no drink) every work day it would cost about \$140. I estimate I pay about \$50 for lunch food items – savings of \$90 a month!

12. ##### Tony

I’m already ahead of the game in this department. I take my lunch everyday =)

13. ##### berimbauone

I already pack lunches, i buy a case of tuna at costco and a bag of romaine hearts. i keep a weeks supply of tuna in my office and one lettuce in the lunchroom fridge. i make tuna salads and complement with fruit and/or leftovers from dinner.

14. ##### Christine

Great reminder that it’s the simple things that work. I am trying to lose a few pounds, so packing a lunch should help to control what I am eating as well as save a few bucks.

15. ##### Susan

I pack lunch every day already- I’d never get to eat if I had to try to find time to go out. I used to eat out a lot- packing lunch has been healthier and has had the unintential side effect of being cheaper, especially compared to eating at restaurants where you were also tipping wait staff.

16. ##### Jaime

This will save me \$44 this month.

17. ##### Benita

I try to do this all the time…I’m usually pretty good. What I have found too, making a lunch from left overs or a sandwich etc is way cheaper than frozen meals! I used to buy them all the time, now I only wil if they are on sale. So I am forced to make my lunch instead of grabbing from the freezer. I will plan my lunches for this month, I liked the idea of labeling the bags for each day! Looking forward to tomorrows tip!

18. ##### Fish McGill

I find it helpful to do the shopping for lunch near work before I get there on a Monday for the week; this only works if you have access to a fridge in your office. It saves even more time and money because 1) I do not forget to bring my lunch when I commute in the morning and 2) it does not rot at home.

19. ##### Rachid

I already only eat out once a week I really don’t want to cut back more than that. On top of it I only spend \$5 at lunch on the day I do it out.

20. ##### gloria

i am amazed at the number of comments from people who, on day 1, are already kvetching that there is no value here for them because they already pack lunch. Criminy! Get over yourselves and, instead of leaping to a premature judgement about the worth of this series, either pat yourselves on the back for your already-manifest wisdom, chime in to verify the utility of the tip, or offer another tip. And, even if you get nothing from this series but a vindication of your own smarts, so what? You paid nothing for the info anyway. Sheesh!

21. ##### Susan

Like most everybody else, I already take my lunch most days.

If you don’t already and decide to do it — watch out for Equipment Expense!

If, following Ramit’s advice, you go to the grocery store to get lunch fixin’s, RESIST the siren call of plastic sandwich-shaped boxes, cunning lunch-sized coolers, da-glo colored neoprene lunch sacks, little Rubbermaid jars.

Personally, I love that kind of stuff; but it’s a waste. You can carry your lunch in a plastic grocery bag and wrap your sandwich in waxed paper.

Save lunch-sized paper sacks when you get them (Chipotle has nice thick ones — I use them over and over).

Some gift bags are the perfect size for lunch and some of them are really cute (if you’re embarrassed by the plastic grocery bag).

Save wide-mouth jars for leftover soup, chili, stew.

Those plastic rectangular boxes with the clear lids that you get Chinese take-out in are the perfect one-serving size for lunch leftovers — people at work get take-out then throw the boxes away! I’m not too proud to pick them out of the trash, take them home and wash them.

Chinese take-out soup, also, comes in terrific plastic tubs with excellent tight lids.

Finally — and now you’ll know I’m nuts — wash and re-use plastic ziploc bags. It’s not merely the expense, which is admittedly not great, but the fact that every piece of plastic you use and discard goes to swell our environmental problems. If you have to use plastic, at least try to USE IT UP.

Oh, yeah — every few months I buy a ten-pack of 12-ounce Gatorades or Power Ades for my 15-year old. I save the bottles — a quick rinse is good enough — and refill them with frozen juice. They’re good to grab for your lunch bag, too.

22. ##### Bart

Your first tip is something I already do … Buy from the market every Saturday then usually cook some soup/stew or other long-lasting lunch I can bring to work for most of week (or I just use left overs from dinner) .. 🙂

I’m excited to see what’s next, up to a potential of \$920 in savings!

23. ##### Ramit Sethi

Gloria = best comment ever.

24. ##### Naturally Frugal

I already do this, and usually only eat out 1x/week. Hopefully you will come up with more original tips, because this one is definitely in the top 3 touted by all the frugal blogs. Look forward to reading!

25. ##### Roland Frédéric

The tip is nice. Actually I practiced it this evening just before I got the tip in my email box :).
I don’t go eat out often, about one or at most two times per week I buy a quick snack for the familly when we don’t want to cook. I can save a few € by ordering a bit less fries as childs waste a lot of food anyway. Once the kids have eaten what they can, dad eat the left over. I can also save a few more € by not ordering sauces as for the price of a few small sample at the snack you can buy a whole bottle at the mall.

26. ##### Alfie

Thanks for the first tip, however my girlfriend and I already pack our lunches daily and we save a substantial amount of money every month.

This is how we figured our savings: Eating out everyday, Monday thru Friday, for lunch for 2 of us at \$8 a lunch would equal \$320.

We workout and have an active lifestyle therefore we eat 5 times a day rather than the conventional 3 meals a day (Early breakfast on way to work, 2nd breakfast mid morning, lunch, late after noon snack, and dinner). Our typical grocery bill is approximately \$500 month (BJ’s for bulk items and local groceries). Dividing our monthly grocery bill (\$500) by the amount of meals we eat daily for a month (200) is a substantial amount of money (\$2.50 a meal).

27. ##### F

Hi Ramit,

I love your \$1,000 challenge idea, but chances are that your readers (i.e. people interested in personal finance) already have audited/budgetted their finances, and thus identified significant outgoing cashflows such as eating out. So you’re bound to receive disappointing reactions with each tip, but hey don’t let that discourage you. This series should be great advice for those just discovering the idea of personal finance, and the rest of us might still find a couple of useful tips (things we overlooked or never questioned).

@Guys,

Be realistic about what these tips can save you: Don’t expect to save \$1,000 if you’re already spending less than that amount now after your ‘vital’ expenses. Instead, let’s be greatful for any inspiring tip that might show up in the series.

28. ##### HowToMakeMyBlog.com

Recently I have started preparing breakfast at home instead of eating out on the way to work. Saves me some 20 GBP weekly.

I still haven’t stopped eating out for lunch but I have stopped buying drink with lunch, which saves me some 10 GBP weekly. Still not prepared to totally quit lunching out because of the social part of it, but you bring some good points.

I have put you on my RSS / subscribed to your newsletter so will be following this project… sounds interesting!

Marko
http://www.howtomakemyblog.com

29. ##### Gidget

I am excited about this challenge–I was also excited to see all the postings so far—and yes, people that already pack their lunch should be proud of themselves—you do save alot of money—it’s surprising how much little things add up–even if packing your lunch everyday , but maybe buying coffee, etc along the way to work–that adds up as well, or a drink or soda, etc. on the way home–that could add up to almost \$80-\$100.00 as well each month–I was sorry to see the guy thinking life might be “sad” if he didn’t eat out as much—well, to each his own I guess. Looking forward to tomorrow’s posting!

30. ##### Reece

It makes sense that most of the people participating already take their lunch as they are obviously interested in saving money or they wouldn’t have signed up. I take my lunch also, it saves \$, time and is healthier.

This tip validates that we are doing the right thing and I am sure there will tips to follow that we are NOT doing and need to implement.

31. ##### Mike

I already try to take my lunch, whether it’s leftovers (best option), making a sandwich, or some frozen lunch (always bought on sale). Typically when I do eat out, though, it’s fast food and I RARELY spend more than \$5. One of the things to take into account are the different markets – I’m not in a large urban area (SF, NY, LA) and lunches are typically cheaper even if you go to a real sit down restaurant.

One advantage to packing your own lunch is controlling your diet. You decide what to put in that sack, including SNACKS for the day. So when you shop at the store, be sure to buy the munchies you might normally get from the snack machine at work. Maybe shoot for healthy munchies, which are, unfortunately, usually more expensive than the sweets but at least you’ll save on doctor bills and weight plans and skin care products in the long run. 🙂

32. ##### Chris

I love how much you incorporate psychology into your money tips and posts. You really are all about the theories principles that encompass social psychology, and rightfully so, because that’s what so much of money-spending/saving is all about. I should know at least a little about that stuff as I’m currently seeking my grad degree in applied social psych.

Intuitively, we know that when our outputs are greater than our inputs, then we’re going to be in the hole, but there is plenty more going on psychologically that causes us to behave contrary to what we know to be true. Check out the theories relating to cognitive dissonance, and see what you come up with as it relates to the misalignment between attitudes and behaviors. I’d love to hear your take on it.

33. ##### Francie

Another tip on prepacking your lunch…you can make and freeze sandwiches ahead. Sandwiches made with lunch meats, leftovers like meatloaf, ham, turkey or roast beef, tuna, cheese or pb freeze great. Mayo, tomatoes and lettuce don’t freeze well so put those in a container in the fridge. Toss a frozen sandwich and any condiments in your lunch in the morning and by noon, you’ll have a thawed but still cold sandwich.

34. ##### Trevor

Ramit — thats a good suggestion… my problem is that I either bring lunch or don’t eat…. and I’m sure some of your readers are in the same boat, the ‘don’t eat at work’ boat….. a suggestion — I bought one of those big COSTCO sized boxes of Milky Way bars and also a large cannister of Animal Crackers…. this helps me because I can easily reach into my drawer for a quick snack vice walking to a store, or, in my case, we have vending machines (those convenience buys are a killer).

35. ##### Anna

Hi everyone –

Ramit is doing a great job getting us on board. Here are my thoughts:

I try to group as many ‘good’ behaviors into one activity as possible. For example, I like to go hiking on the weekends (I live in LA, and it’s a crime not get outside!). I also take the bus to my hiking spot. Thus, I save money by using public transportation and doing an activity that is relatively low cost, I get a great workout, I socialize (if I go with friends), etc.

We can do this with packing lunches, as well. As another reader mentioned, reusable bags are the way to go. Here is a great website to find some: http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php.
By using reusable bags, you not only save more money, but you do great things for the environment.

In addition, because YOU pack your lunch, you can control the type of food you eat: maybe you can pack somethiing healthier than what you usually take? I find that taking the time to make my lunches is a wonderful way to ‘take care of myself’, both nutritionally and financially.

Good luck!!!

36. ##### Lisa

Great tip. I’m a stay at home mom, so I don’t eat lunch out often, but I’m always so glad when I’m out running errands away from home, and have remembered to pack something for myself and kids. It saves, money, time, and hassle. Also, taking a few minutes in the morning to make my daughter’s lunch saves us an estimated \$25.00 per week. Many of the kids in her high school walk to nearby sandwich, fast food, or coffee chains for lunch. It takes me 5 minutes to pack her lunch, so I’m saving an hourly rate of \$60.00 per hour. Not bad for making a cheese sandwich.

I, also, recommend using wax paper bags for sandwiches. A piece of scotch tape to keep it closed, and it’s every bit as good as zip lock, and I find that the sandwiches don’t get soggy. And it’s biodegradable 🙂

37. ##### Anca

If you already made assumptions on how much people might be spending to eat out, why not go the extra step and list the average cost of a bagged lunch?

I eat out a lot, but it almost always costs me under \$4. And that \$4 includes a great little piece of grilled salmon.

38. ##### Pack Lunches for the Rest of the Week,Really? — Green Panda Treehouse

[…] Photo Credit: Ramit Sethi […]

39. ##### Rach

I always do a big cook up on Sunday – freeze everything in reuseable containers – and then every day I just need to reach in to my freezer and pick my lunch. My food remains fresh on the way to work as it’s still frozen, then I use the microwave to heat it up. Easy! And no boring sandwiches day after day.

I’m curious for the tips coming. I feel like my budget is already pretty tight as I’m paying off old debt as quickly as possible, but I’m ready for even more. Ha, F makes a great point – we can’t expect to save \$1000 if we’re not spending \$1000!

40. ##### Matt

In addition to packing a lunch most days, I always keep a loaf of bread, jar of peanut butter, and container of honey at the office, so that I always have the option of making a quick sandwich. For people that tend to get hungry throughout the day, this is a good way to avoid spending more than you plan by getting snacks from vending machines or making extra trips to the nearby cafeteria/deli.

41. ##### Tim Brown

I saved \$56 bagging four lunches/week last month – the first month my wife and I began consistently bringing lunches. We plan to continue eating this way.

If all your tips are as realistic and centered on personal responsibility as this one, we’ll be in great shape. Thanks Ramit!

42. ##### Jaclyn

I am a busy student and end up buying food on campus most days. Sometimes I am on campus for 12 hours so this usually means two, if not three meals bought, four days a week. In a typical week I spend \$50 on food at school. In a month that equals \$200. I just went to the grocery store and bought \$20 worth of groceries that will last me more than a week for lunches. Even spending \$20 a week will save me \$120 this month.

I know lots of people already take their lunch, and of course I knew I was spending a lot of money on this but I think it’s good to get a kick in the butt sometimes. I am usually too lazy to make my own lunches and that is really no excuse. I’m hoping to drop a few pounds in the process too…campus food isn’t exactly healthy.

43. ##### Daniel

Thanks for this series Ramit, I really appreciate the time you are spending on it. Like a lot of people, I’m already bringing my lunch most days (I’m lucky enough to have a work with a great kitchen area) but there are 29 more tips to go and I KNOW I’m not already doing all of them. Thanks again for your help, you’re doing a great service.

44. ##### Anna

Have been doing this for many years. To get in enough fruits and vegetables I cut up apples, any fruit baggy it, and eat one in car on the way and home. Same with vegetable just not at the same time.

45. ##### Kevin Franklin

Recently, I’ve been making a habit out of checking the frozen meal section at the grocery store. They tend to have a weekly 4 for \$10 deal on a certain brand of meal. One week, it’ll be Lean Cuisine, the next it will be Healthy Choice, and so on. I’ve been buying 4 of these per week for me to take to work. It’s saving me money, and it’s helping me lose weight by not overeating.

Portions at fast food/dine-in places are usually very large!

46. ##### Edgardo

Just came back fom a two week unexpected vacation. (For all the right reasons) Now looking for every which way to save a buck. To make up for the money and time i have lost. Time i know i cant get back but money on the other hand is a different story. This challege could of not came in a better time. I just want to thank you and everyone else for the tips and comments. Can not wait for the next tip.

47. ##### Pip

I have been brown bagging it for years as well and let me add some tips:
1) Leftovers! Bring leftovers occasionally. It’s a treat. Every now and then a leftover pork chop, stuffing and a veggie will be a nice treat and a change of pace from sandwiches or salads. Nothing will inspire office wide jealousy and get people to stop “picking on you” than leftover chinese food.

2) Make it yours. I put shredded carrots on my sandwich, because I want them there. People always look in awe, but it’s my sandwich I’ll put what I want on it! My co-worker puts hot sauce on his sandwich, it works for him. Also switch up the bread, use rolls, rye bread, wheat bread. Play a bit.

3)Think of the time you’ll save. You can read, get an errand done, or go back to work sooner. Take a 5 minute walk/drive to BK or McD, then multiply it by 2 (there and back) then multiply that by 5 and oh my it really starts adding up. What is that you say? It takes me five minuted to make my lunch in the AM. So what? So you only save yourself a 30 minutes a week instead of an hour, big deal.

4) Two snacks! If you are going to make this work, you have to pack yourself two snacks. For me it’s something salty and something sweet,. For you it may be a fruit and a veggie, or some nuts and a rice cake. Whatever it is 2 snacks. Make your lunch something you want to eat.

5) Don’ forget your drink! Coke or v8, either way it’s cheaper and better. Why is a coke better? Odds are you’ll bring a 12oz can vs the 16+oz one you’d get from where ever you were going. That’s a win. Small steps can take you far.

Other than that take your time as was suggested. Start once a week then work your way up. Be patient and keep fighting. You will see a weight shift from your waist to your wallet, the type we all like!

Great blog post! Keep it up.

After reading some comments, I agree that this post can’t save me money, but I can share the things that got me bringing my lunch and help someone else. Then maybe they’ll post something I had not thought of down the road. You don’t need to be greedy and selfish to be smart with money. Money is a tool, not the root of all evil.

48. ##### Simon

We think this will save about £30 each per week, so approximately £120 towards our £1000 goal… (in our opinion is that even though currency fluctuates, most things are fairly similarly priced everywhere numerically)

49. ##### Poor Boomer

I already do this, so I’m not saving anything. I’ve got some screwy overpriced deal where I rent a room in a house and get three meals. We’re so frugal in this house (nine of us) that the lunch bags are reusable zip bags. And I can’t move to a cheaper place because I’m spending 70 percent of my income to live here.

50. ##### Philip

Yep, here too. I have packed a lunch since grade school! Next!

51. ##### Lea

Hopeful of getting something out of these tips, but feeling its not likely.
Everything already cut to bone, and last week decided to cut our last few luxuries out of the groceries (fruit juice, yoghurt, and other equally decadent luxuries 🙁 )
Currently working on the other end – increasing income. :goes back to code window:

Oh, and leftovers are way cheaper than actually ‘packing a lunch’, if you have reheat facilities in your office. It costs almost nothing to stretch dinner to one more place; it does cost money to buy bread and fillings, or whatever ‘extras’ you want to include.

52. ##### Kristi

—The \$50 Pot of Soup—
Every week or two I make a pot of my favorite Dal, a wonderful Indian lentil soup full of ginger and spices. I figure the pot of soup is worth \$50 in savings, since it makes me 10 lunches. There’s nothing like the 1-minute simplicity of grabbing a frozen container of soup as I head out the door for a 12+ hour shift.

53. ##### evie

I like to bring an extra special dessert so I look forward to my brought lunch more than eating out. I’m big on brownies, cookies, stawberries and homemade whipped cream…

Since I switched, I save about \$70 a month.

54. ##### Renee

I work in NYC where lunches can easily cost over \$12 a pop. I order out alot because I don’t have time to go out so with tip I am spending over \$15 per day on lunch. I usually buy soup and a salad. So…today I went to the grocery store bought three soup bowls for \$4.50 (on sale with a coupon)and a bag of salad, tomotoes and mini carrots. I spent less than \$10 so I’m already saving. Thanks for the challenge, Ramit. I may have heard the tip to bring my lunch to work to save money many times but never did it until I was up for the challenge of saving up to \$1000. in a month

55. ##### Tina

This is a great tip, although like many others who posted already, one we have been doing for years. I would like to add something to it that I didn’t see mentioned in the comments yet.

For those of you who have school aged children, as I do, and you don’t qualify for free or reduced price school lunches go ahead and pack them a lunch while you are packing your own. I do this for my 3 who are still in grade school and I estimate my savings each month during the school year to be \$100.00/month for my children alone. (I’m a frugal grocery shopper and their lunches cost us pennies on the dollar.)

The added benefit of packing their lunches is the same as for the adults; I know what they are eating and how much, and I know they like everything that I pack in their lunchboxes. All of our lunchboxes are reusable ones that last for years. We have insulated Thermos containers for drinks, and hot or cold food, reusable Tupperware sandwich boxes for their sandwich days, and we reuse ziplock baggies until they fall apart, so it is better for the environment to boot.

I look forward to more tips.

56. ##### Denise

I am up to the challenge. I lost my job back in August, and with me receiving unemployment compensation, I have cut back alot, but would like to save up some money, too. Tip #1 is no problem, no with tip #2.

57. ##### Vic

I pack my lunch every single day. To make it even more efficient my lunch consist of a tuna sandwich with a couple of fruits (Kiwi, strawberry or grapes) with a bottle of water. This is a good strategy……although tuna everyday did not sound to appealing at the start, but it is cheap good for my health and keeps more money in my wallet.
I do sometimes like to go to McDonalds, which is across the street from my office, but I take full advantage of the dollar menu. One cup of sweet tea =1.00 and two 4-Piece chicken nuggets – 2.00 that’s 3.00 + tax. (I don’t like the fries).
This is strategy is saving me about 110 dollars a month.

58. ##### Patrick Dench

\$9/day x 4 days a week = \$36/week x 4 = \$144/month

Packing lunch 4 days a week instead of one…

\$9/week x 4 weeks = \$36/month

Monthly savings: \$108

59. ##### Micah

Great tip. I am a cheapskate and I’m trying to lose weight so this works great. When you mention strategy for eating out my first thoughts were to only eat out when it could help you network with other professionals, or improve your career in some way. Purely social reasons are okay too because that is very important for personal morale. I error on the side of almost never eating out and that does have negative effects.

60. ##### Allen

Most days I skip lunch, and when I don’t I spend \$13.00 on chinese delivery. \$10.00 + \$3.00 tip. my savings would be \$156.00 per month. My real thought is not saving the money, but directing the money to some account where I can see my savings. Method 1, a extra wallet or money box, even a shoe box will work. If you are saving money on lunch but spend it on a new cd you happen to see, then there was no savings. Set the money to the side and save but most importantly see the savings.

61. ##### m

My husband and I have been eating out too much lately, but it’s so hard because of our schedules. We are both in school and working full-time so it’s really crazy for us. We get home late every night so the last thing either of us feel like doing is packing lunch.

We do buy groceries with the intentions of making our own lunches, but then we are too tired to pack lunch and we end up paying even more — for the groceries and then eating out on top of it because we don’t eat the food for lunch. I’d like to point out that it also helps to buy food that you know you will eat (it’s appealing enough) and is easy enough to prepare for your lifestyle/schedule. Because if it’s something that’s only cheap and not all that appealing or is too much of a hassle to prepare, you won’t end up eating it.

I love buying frozen and packaged meals from Trader Joe’s. I bought a package of frozen penne arrabiata pasta (3 servings for \$2.99 ) to go with a can of soup (\$1-something each) for a cheap lunch or dinner for when I’m at work or school.

62. ##### One Frugal Girl

One other suggestion related to this: Take a whole bunch of staple foods to work and leave them in your desk. Take items like almonds, apple sauce, granola bars, etc. I also like to keep a few bottles of water on hand. That way even if you forget to bring your lunch to work you will still have food on hand. You might have to pick up a small sandwich, but you won’t find yourself picking up a sandwich, chips and a drink.

63. ##### Chris P

I already save between \$2 – 4 a day by taking my own lunch (depending on what I take). Call it \$15 per week or \$60+ per month. I used to eat out almost everyday, but in June my AC needed to be replaced and I had not budgeted for it. So I bought it on 12 month no interest, and calculated how much I needed to save each payday to get it paid off in that time.

Bringing my own lunch was one thing I did to be able to save, and that whole situation was what lead me to really begin thinking about personal finance. I make decent money but had almost no wiggle room for unexpected things. I think you can go cold turkey on a lot of things as long as the motivation to do so is stronger than whatever you get out of the habit. Going out to lunch was not that big a deal to me, it was just convenient and easy. Now that I have a pressing reason to save that money, it was easy to change. I know there will probably be more that I am already doing, but even if I can only add \$100 to what I am already doing to save money, it will be well worth it.

64. ##### Beth

I realized that to make packing a lunch work for me, lunch had to not feel like a sacrifice. When shopping for the week, I’ve taken to grabbing fun things, like the tiny Laughing Cow cheese and pretty fruit to add to lunch. These things make lunch way better quality and way cheaper than anything I an acquire within walking distance from my office.

If the freezer is lean on leftovers and I have less than two minutes to pack lunch, I’ve found I can half pack a lunch by grabbing fruit, two granola bars and then supplementing with \$4 takeout soup rather than \$8-10 dollar lunch.

I’ve also found that taking nice tea and a nice tea cup to work have made that option more appealing than grabbing \$5 tea from Argo.

I’ve gone from a \$60/week lunch and tea budget to \$20.

65. ##### Kevin

Ramit, Thanks a lot for this series, I think it’ll be good. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts for a while now, because of your no-BS attitude about frugality and the importance of being pound-wise even if not always penny-wise. So when you say you’re going to offer practical, psychologically sound advice on saving money “the old-fashioned way,” you’ve got us all listening!

Having left a job in NYC to get my master’s in engineering, I’m now packing my lunch almost every day. This full-time grad student is having an easier time of it than expected because there are far less convenient, tasty and expensive lunch options in rural Virginia than there were in NYC!

Unfortunately, living in a cheap house, packing my lunch, and not owning a car–riding my bike to campus every day–I already know what my biggest expense is. The beer here is cheap and I spend all my money at the bar next door! Cutting back on my daily happy hour(s) is the most effective way to reduce expenses, so I know that I’ll get the most mileage out of my money if I chill at home more often. I’ll have to start counting beer money soon to monitor its disappearance, but in the meantime look forward to more of your tips.

Bagging (more) lunches will probably save me about \$20 this month.

66. ##### gmom

Been packing for longer than you’ve been alive, but last year switched from brown bag to reusable bag to save a tree (but it’s actually saved me \$15 so far this year). I use reusable plastic containers picked up from the Dollar Store or washed margarine tubs, etc. Also I have reusable bottle for water (saves \$2.00/day over some of my coworkers who pay for bottled water). I order in twice a month with coworkers because it helps me stay in the loop on what’s happening outside my cubicle – but don’t get a drink because I have the water. I like the idea of making lunches up for the whole week ahead of time – it does save on the time spent deciding what to make each day!

67. ##### Emma

I only buy lunch if I have a lunch meeting. I always take leftovers from dinner, which ends up being even cheaper than buying things to make for lunch.

68. ##### Lisa

It seems so obvious, and many of us with children will easily admit to cutting back on our own stops for lunch but don’t give much thought to continually sending in that check to restock the kid’s school debit card for lunches. I sat down with my 14 year old this morning and explained compound interest. The \$150 – \$175 she spends per month in the cafeteria could be invested in a savings account to be used toward a car purchase in two years time. Most of us are going to make that investment for our children at 16 why not get thier buy in now and take the money from lunches and watch it grow?

I’m not only saving the lunch money, I’m finally stepping onto that path to teaching fiscal responsibility to my children.

Can’t wait for tip #2.

69. ##### RJ

Thanks Ramit for the tip and coming up with this series.

But here is an alternate view point-
The idea of cutting down on food is not great! Especially when one place health in the top quadrant. I think people should eat the best of which they can afford. By best I don’t mean going to the expensive restaurants.
When starting to cut down on food costs some people are going to turn into junk food style from a full course meal and over time it’s going to affect their health.

70. ##### Pam

This tip doesn’t apply to us as we have a home-based business. And, because we’re not doing so good financially, our son qualifies for the free lunch program at school – thank goodness!! I’m looking forward to #2 tip today – when will we get it? 🙂

71. ##### Lydia

Oh Me Oh My! I just added what we spent on eating out last month…\$355.97…However, more than half went to feeding our employees. It has been our way of showing our appreciation. What i will do now is pack them lunches and cut out eating out on our part as well. What a Great Idea!
Thank you!

72. ##### Amy

I come home for lunch daily. I can count on one hand how much I eat out for lunch. Better yet, I can count on one hand how much we eat out period. My husband takes his lunch and when he does eat out for lunch, he does not spend more than \$5.00. My daughter has been taking her lunch since school started in August and we spend more money fixing her lunches because she eats healthly lunches than we would if we bought her lunch in the cafeteria. A cafeteria lunch is \$2.00 for our daughter and I can get a salad for 2.00 as well. Still, we are not saving any money. And are living off of credit cards for buy food, personal items, diapers for our son, etc. Our problem right now is with the economy. My husband is a finance manager at a car dealership and his income has dropped tremendously.

73. ##### Pam

Amy, take a look at your schools free lunch programs. All they need is a pay check stub or two and your family may qualify for free or reduced lunches if offered. Just like you said, they’re healthy and our district has a good variety. And, breakfest is free too if they offer it.

74. ##### Yasmin

Gloria…you go girl!

I tend to fall off every so often and go with the lunch train, just to ‘get out of the office’ but there’s really a lot of value in being able to say ‘No thanks, I’m doing this for Ramit’ 😉 j/k…

For those of you who already bring bagged lunches, an alternative would be to save more on the lunches you pack…is it really just a homemade PB&J sandwich? how much are you really saving? Cut down on the cost in your bagged lunches.

75. ##### Amy

Pam, I do not qualify for free lunches just under my income alone. That program is for low income families. Remember, I said my husband is a finance manager. I am not being negative, but I am hopeful that maybe some of the tips will apply to me but the lunch one does not because I am already doing it.

76. ##### John

I think it’s interesting, Ramit, that your first tip for saving \$1000 is related to food. As an American expat who’s spent the last twenty plus years living in Europe, I’ve reached the conclusion that many people, and particularly Americans, skimp on food expenses in detriment to their long-term health and happiness. I have friends in the states who live in posh homes, drive swanky cars, and take lavish vacations, but they cut corners on food by looking for the lowest prices at discount stores that clearly sacrifice quality to cut prices. Let’s not even talk about the quality of fast food… We are talking about what we put into our bodies to keep ourselves alive and healthy, but in America, and more and more often in Europe, people are placing less importance on food in order to focus their purchasing power on other things. High quality food, and excellent dining experiences with the right company are an investment in quality of life. Drive less, and buy fresh food with the gas savings!

77. ##### Sri

Hi Ramit, thanks a ton for the tip. I am planning on following this challenge! Just one question. I live in Germany, and am doing my PhD here so go to university atleast 3 of the 5 days in a week. Do you think the university cafeteria also counts as eating out? A meal there costs me around 3-4 euros (coz I’m vegetarian) and I use an expense card for it. Is that as much as my packed lunch would anyway cost? What do you think?

78. ##### Anna

Oh how I struggle with this! My job requires me to be on the road a lot and it’s SO much easier to grab lunch on the go. I’ve tried packing lunches before, I lasted three weeks! I think the suggestion of weaning down the number of lunches per week is a great one! If I allow mysel 2-3 days of eating out for lunch the first week, it’ll be easier to eventually pack all of my lunches! Just packing 2 days per week will easily save me \$20!

79. ##### Cathlene

I’m already packing my lunch most of the time, but I think there is some information here that I need to think about. I don’t always plan/pack wisely and sometimes I end up just taking a frozen meal which doesn’t really feel satisfying, and doesn’t really same me much. I’m going to make and effort to plan for the entire week, and make sure I’m smart about what I choose to take with me each day.

80. ##### Carolina

Hi, I’m new to the site but I’m always looking for ways to save money especially now that I’m not working (having a baby in a couple of months). I have to say I feel a little bit ashamed since I should be packing lunches for my hubby, I do give him breakfast in the morning though. Anyway I’m gonna start packing lunches at least for a couple of days a week since he is always driving from one place to another he can’t heat up his lunch and I don’t want him to get tired of sandwiches but I’ll let you guys know how everything goes. I’m looking forward to see how this is gonna turn.

81. ##### Megan

Already do this. To increase your savings on this- Do not use a paper bag, sandwich bags, etc. Put your food in washable, reusable containers. Better for the environment and your wallet.

I started saving about \$300 a month when I switched to buying my food from the store and making it at home. Granted this is all meals in the day not just lunch, and I still eat out about 1 day a week for lunch, and 1x for dinner, I always eat breakfast before I leave for work in the morning. Good tip I recommend easing yourself off eating out if you do it a lot, listen to Ramit 😉

83. ##### Jane

I have been packing lunch for 5 years now. We do have a cafeteria at school, but it’s you know, school food. I didn’t like that stuff as a student! It does save a lot of money. I hate to pack lunch in the morning so, to make it easy I mostly pack Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones that I buy in bulk when they come on sale. I usually pay about \$2.50 each day. I also bring my own reusable bottle of water. Cost about \$13.00 a week. The frozen meals make it a no excuses thing.

84. ##### Eileen

Here’s a tip that doesn’t necessarily involve saving money, but it might save your bananas. Don’t put bananas in the refrigerator. The skins will turn black. (Remember, they’re tropical.) The bananas inside are fine, but black bananas are not exactly appetizing. 🙂

I don’t eat lunch at work. We don’t have a refrigerator at the office–GDU rules prohibit using departmental funds to purchase anything in any way related to food, and as generously paid state employees none of us can afford to purchase a mini-refrigerator that will probably end up being sacrificed to the cause. No edible food is sold on the campus: all food services have been subcontracted to junk-food franchises.

With no way to store an actual meal, I bring a bag of nuts and snack on them to keep from fainting from hunger.

86. ##### Angie

This will save me about \$21.00 per week.

87. ##### Ashley

I have a different approach to this. I get the \$2 frozen dinners from Kroger, whichever ‘diet’ brand is on sale… it’s less expensive and healthier than making sandwiches. Less expensive because I have to buy ingredients in too large of units; the excess bread and fixin’s invariably go bad over the weekend. If there are leftovers, I have leftovers instead and the frozen dinners are quite content to wait for another day.

88. ##### Cymbidium

I’m a stay at home parent so I eat leftovers or make something “special” that the kdis don’t like so I can eat it all week. Crustless quiches, soups, etc.

The big savings for me is not buying water/drinks/snacks while we are out. We bring water bottles (refillable!), and pack healthy snacks (carrot sticks, local apples, popcorn, etc.)

My husband is packing his lunches every day as well.

89. ##### Jennifer

This is a great tip. My husband and I try agreed that we can each eat out one time per week. Sometimes I do not eat out at all in a week and sometimes I eat out twice in a week. So it kind of evens out for me in the end.

The other thing I do besides taking leftovers or bringing a frozen dinner is keep an “emergency lunch” in my desk. I am embarrassed to admit it but there have been several times where I have forgotten to bring my lunch but at least I had something to eat in my desk. So that helps with not going out or eating something out of the office carousel. For my emergency lunches at work, they aren’t the healthiest, but I keep on hand either ramen noodles or one of the Simply Asia meals.

90. ##### Common Sense Tips to Save Money at AndrewKnight.com

[…] Tip #1 is another good one. For the past 6 months I have started bringing my lunch to work about 75% of the time. It just takes changing some habits and doing a little planning. Good stuff Ramit! « Take Back Your Mailbox From Junk Mail! […]

91. ##### Roz

Aloha, I’ve been packing lunch for years, at first more for convenience b/c my office was located on a military base where the food court was just mediocre, and driving “off base” was such a hassle, but now it’s a habit. I’ve found that leftovers work better than anything else. As my husband and I are cleaning up after dinner, I’ll pack lunch for the both of us (resuable containers) at the same time I’m putting leftovers into the fridge so the next morning I just have to throw the containers into my lunch bag before i walk out the door. Most times I’ll cook up a couple of different dishes on the weekends so that dinners during the week aren’t so hectic…and that means we can choose from a variety of leftovers. We purchase bags of prepared salad greens/spinach and so a couple handfuls of greens into another container w/ a few grape tomatoes and your salad is set and *presto* lunch is packed! Let me tell you, my coworkers always stop by to see what’s on the menu!

Recently I’ve started packing my own breakfasts as well. I’ll cook up a frittata on Sunday and eat that for breakfast the entire week. It’s a wonderful way to use up all my leftover veggies and leftovers that are too small to make a decent portion (no rotting veggies in my fridge, thank you very much) and, as the saying goes, breakfast is the most important part of the day!

It takes a little planning but the outcome (financially and physically) are well worth the effort.

92. ##### Rachel

I only eat out for lunch 1-2 times a week so by packing my lunch those days I’ll save about \$15/week for this month, totaling \$60.

93. ##### Ramit’s Tip#2: Turn Your Thermostat Down — Green Panda Treehouse

[…] Photo Credit:  Ramit Sethi […]

94. ##### Joyful Abode: Domesticity by Trial and Error

I already do this; always have.

Another tip: If you’re in the office all day, make sure you have plenty of “interesting” snacks and drinks stashed…
When I taught in a school (now I teach in my home), I had tea bags (different flavors), granola bars, baggies of crackers and stuff (which I bought in large bags/boxes and transferred to smaller servings myself, rather than buying the more expensive smaller packages). I had a mini fridge with individually wrapped cheddar cheese pieces (because they don’t go bad as quickly as if you bought a whole block), yogurt, cans of fruit, and juice.

This’ll really cut down on vending machine purchases, AND if you don’t have time to pack a lunch, you can still eat your own food rather than buying.

My older sister took this all a step further. She bought individually wrapped snacks in bulk from Costco, and sold them from her office to her officemates. It was still cheaper than vending machines (for her office-mates), and she always made back the entire expense of the costco purchase, even though she was eating the snacks too. Free food!
She bought things like I listed above, plus individual bags of microwave popcorn, cup-o-noodles, and more.

95. ##### Andy

To repeat above comments succinctly and probably offensively: how do we save money if we’re already not retarded?

96. ##### hungryelmo

Funny about Money and others who work at places without a refrigerator
or a microwave, you can pack your lunch in an insulated container such as
Mr. Bento from Zojirushi and lunch tote and jars from Nissan Stainless.
They are insulated, so they keep food hot for hours.
My Mr. Bento keeps miso soup hot for at least 4-5 hours.

If you are worried about food spoiling from lack of refrigeration,
you can pack your lunch with small ice packs and also use an
insulated lunch bag. My mom did this with egg salad sandwiches
she used to pack for our day trip.

97. ##### Iwantatoyhauler

I will eat out once a week, normally on Thursday when I run financial errands for our business. The cost savings will be \$32 for the month. I’ll deposit the amount into savings each week.
However, a family goal has been to purchase a toyhauler and return to traveling with our daughters. Therefore we are currently working on a process to evaluate everything we own to determine whether to keep it, sell it or donate it.
We have a daughter with special needs attending private school. Her education expenses were not in our financial plan and have set us back significantly. However, she is making great strides and the adjustments have been more than well worth the efforts.
I can’t take “things” with me, but I can introduce my three daughters to the beauty of our county.

98. ##### Jim

I think this is – in general – a common sense tip. It’s an easy and obvious way to save money, and as lots of people here attest, it’s commonly done. What I think is great is the suggestion of making your 3-5 lunches all at once and bagging them separately. I consistently buy supplies to make lunches on Sunday night, and then proceed to sleep as long as possible before I have to get up and find I don’t have time to make a lunch. Then I end up buying a lunch that day and spend twice the money!

This is going to save me from \$30-\$115 a month (cutting back on eating out twice a week on the low end and every day on the high end).

Thanks, Ramit!

99. ##### JJ

This one is obvious, true. But I still can never seem to do it. The trick seems to pack a lunch you’re going to WANT to eat when your colleague brings in Thai food from that great place across the street. Still, doing this should save me approx \$20 per week.

100. ##### CL

This will save me about \$40/month…I usually go out 1-2 times a week, but my current plan now is to go out once every week. I find it very hard to go cold turkey, call me weak!

101. ##### Nicole

I agree with John’s comment about not skimping on health in favor of lower cost. Remember to prioritize and think about the big picture! A daily diet of snickers, PB&J, and ramen is a cheap and filling way to go, but hardly optimal for your health – and health bills. Consider three months of skimping on vegetables and fruit. Your body will not thank you. It will survive, sure, but if you want your brain and body to operate at full function during your day, try to remember that “cheap” doesn’t always equal “best.”

A lot of people seem like they are bringing in healthful frozen or packed lunches, so this comment is directed to others like me who enjoy bringing in lunch and are on a budget that allows just a little wiggle-room. My brought lunches average about \$2.00 in cost and are generally comprised of veggies and a lean protein, cooked up as a giant stew or stir-fry on Sundays. I could bring that number down to \$1.00 if I ate PB&J sandwiches for a month, but although I love PB&J every now and then I’d get bored of it quick. Fruits and veggies might cost a little more but I’m investing in the long run. Keep things in perspective!

102. ##### Claire

This is a great tip that I’ve been doing for awhile.

Today’s savings: \$0
Cumulative savings: \$0

103. ##### Charles

This is a great tip. Perhaps you saved money you didn’t give yourself credit for saving. Yes, you may be a brown bagger from the dark ages. Do you however, assign a savings value to what you are carrying. Even if its the actual cost down to the penny. Also what would you eat and what would it cost if you didn’t carry your lunch.
Many efforts are not appreciated because they have no value assigned to them. Such as the negative responses to this tip. It a person’s choice to value or deem something worthless. Attitude is the actual issue of finance not the numbers.

104. ##### TC

I appreciate the no-B.S. promise, Ramit. I prefer realistic changes that save time and money, not changes that take 5 hours and only save \$1.

I eat breakfast at home and pack snacks & lunches for work already, so savings for today is \$0. For the others who do the same, make sure you’re doing the extra things Pip recommends – pack your snacks and drinks too. I haven’t been doing this part very long, but it has made an impact. How much are you spending at the vending machines, that could be reduced?

105. ##### Erica

I have tried to implement this one in the past, but never with much success. At work I always buy from the salad bar. I have yet to find a way to make a salad at home with all the ingredients I want, in a manner that will survive a 16-or-so hour wait in the refrigerator. (Figure I make the salad at 8pm the previous night, eat it at 12pm the next day.) I could put all the ingredients in their own containers and then mix them together at lunchtime, but of course that is silly. I tried making sandwiches, but the truth is that I hate making sandwiches. Also I cannot make sandwiches for the whole week on Sunday and expect Friday’s sandwich to be edible.

106. ##### Ramit Sethi

Erica, there are two alternatives you can do: Either give up and do nothing (which it sounds like you’re doing now), or try something different. Which will it be?

Is it really “silly” to put the food in different containers if you save \$50?

Is it crazy to maybe skip 1-2 toppings that you want so you can save money?

Could you make sandwiches twice a week instead of just on Sundays?

Or you could sit here and lament how you can’t save money. Your call.

107. ##### Selling My Stuff — Green Panda Treehouse

[…] Photo Credit:  Ramit Sethi […]

108. ##### Barbara

I am look forward to learning more tips. I already bring my lunch to work which most of you do. I saved about two hundred a month when I started last year. I know there will be tips for everyone to use you all just need to be patient.

109. ##### Peggy

Haven’t been out to lunch since…um…1990. Yup. 1990. I have been out on business lunches since then all of twice and someone else paid. So I can’t claim any savings on this tip.

110. ##### Amy

I never go to the vending machines. Actually, I have eaten at home for so long now that I am really starting to burn out on eating at home.

111. ##### Cynthia

Unlike most folks, I eat out quite a lot. So bringing my lunch should save me as much as \$50 per week – even more since I love to get sushi at least 3 times per month.

I also eat breakfast out each morning. That will be harder to change, but i’ll work on it.

112. ##### Carla

I’ve been packing my lunch (and snacks: hard boiled eggs, fruit, veggies) about four days a week for years. I usually treat myself one day a week. I don’t eat junk so I don’t do vending machines or convenience stores. A typical lunch out costs about \$13 so that saves me about \$52 a week. I would save more if I did it five days a week though.

113. ##### Nick

Lunch is a killer. Even though most places have lunch deals and whatnot, which may make it a better deal than dinner, it’s still not very economical.

114. ##### Kurt

Thank you Gloria!!! I just started this too and the first 3 savings items I already do to some extent nevertheless, what these are really do (to this point) is bolstering my own resolve to keep things simple and look for new ways to better what I am already doing – for instance – instead of packing a lunch in disposable containers I now use more reuseable containers and also think more of the bulk buys I can make during the week to maximize my lunch spending. I also am looking more for value in foods and what keeps me healthy and happy rather than simply good taste. Use a little lateral thinking here and the light will come on.

115. ##### Involve Your Friends with Saving — Green Panda Treehouse

[…] Photo Credit:  Ramit Sethi […]

116. ##### Ethel

When I buy lunch, I tend to spend \$3 or less, and I already usually bring in my lunch (whenever we have leftovers / easy stuff to bring in). So I’m not really saving anything (additional) because I already do this as much as I can.

But it’s a great tip; even \$3 a day adds up.

117. ##### Joel

Well, hopefully future tips will be more applicable to me. I don’t eat out and my office provides me with a \$3.50 per day lunch cooked by a chef, which while I could pack a sandwich and some chips, the food at work is generally much better, and really not that much more expensive.

118. ##### Closeupman

Ramit:

I disagree with you response to Chris.

You stated at the beginning of this challenge you wouldn’t give any stupid frugality tips…..

Well THIS is one of those COMMON frugality tips. If more people were married in a traditional marriage knowadays, it would be utilized even more. I did this when I was single as well, though my lunches weren’t as good as what my wife packs me.

Also, due to the fact that we’re muslim, we can’t eat out that much and cook at home(I’ve become quite the baker…I love making chapti’s!).

You could’ve added in your tip to cut out eating out as well for dinner, not just lunches. Or what about when you do go out and eat, at least in America, DON”T order DRINKS. Those are the most costly things on a bill. Just get water(with a slice of lemon), it’s free and it’s better for you!

119. ##### Berit

New to the site, but loving the idea of this fun challenge!

Though it is likely that someone has already pointed this out (so many comments, wow!), be careful about (don’t) pre-packing bananas in paper bags several days ahead! Placing a green banana in a paper bag overnight is an old trick for ripening it BY THE NEXT DAY. I think this may be true of some other fruits as well. So, a few days in a bag is enough to make your nice, streamlined pre-packed lunch gross for you! 🙁

Avoid Brown-Bag boredom that can make you throw in the packed lunch-towel with tips, recipes, and menus from justbento.com. Run by Maki, a Japanese woman living in Europe (Switzerland?) who has a masterful command of the English language and blogging. Focuses on healthful, inexpensive, time-conscious menus.

120. ##### Ramit Sethi

Closeupman, what tips would you suggest? I’m open to including them. If you’ve got some better ones, let me know.

121. ##### Lena

So far so good. My husband and I have lunch together mon-thurs (fridays at home). This month we have decided to brown bag it every day except wednesday. An average lunch for us is \$12.
\$12×3=36.00 per week
\$144 monthly savings

122. ##### ET Mister

This is very strange to see this challenge and tip come across my RSS feed at the same time I made a commitment to try to knock a \$1000 off my monthly budget. I have started planning on packing lunches starting this week. I am glad to see I am not alone in this challenge.

123. ##### Closeupman

Give me some time and I will.

At least for this tip, I would add, go to Costco(or go with someone who has a membership if you really want to save money) and stock up on essentials that you can brown bag with.

1. Buy the HUGE canned fruit(e.g. pear slices, peach halves, etc). Those can be put in tupperware. Those make good(and cheap) desserts for your lunch or just snacks for work.

2. If you like tuna, you can get a good deal on those at costco too, just don’t buy the prepackaged ‘tuna kits’, buy just the tuna cans. Place ’em on bread and make a sandwich.

Also, try to learn some cooking/baking basics….it’s easier than you think. It’ll be scary and hard at first, but once you’ve done it, it’ll be easier.

As I stated before, I’m a muslim, so I must check ingredients a lot on items. One thing now that I make myself is bread. I use a bread machine or mixer to make the bread dough. Then I cook it in the oven so I can shape it how I want(e.g. sandwich type bread). If you make 2 loaves at a time, you’ll save on gas too. This makes HEALTHY and cheap(I’ve used regular all purpose flour in a bread machine and it was fine….try a mix with whole wheat flour though, for a different texture and healthier bread) bread.

I’m sure I could think of more, but that’s all I have time for now.

Peace be with you Ramit :oP

124. ##### allen

I’m in walking distance of home, so i walk home. Saves me money, and i get out of the office for a while. of course, that’s why i choose my place…

No savings for me, as i’m already doin’ this.

125. ##### Evie

I have been doing this for several months now and have really seen the difference both financially and in my health. It’s easier to manage calories, fiber, sodium intake, etc. I like using my crock pot since I can dump all sorts of wonderful things in there, turn it on, go to sleep and wake up in the morning to a delicious soup, stew, etc. that will last me for more than one lunch. I enjoy making lunch my biggest meal (which also helps with weight control).

126. ##### Strong One

I realized the impact of this tip years ago. As a nurse it’s so easy to get caught up not having the time to actually eat a lunch. So we tend to eat whatever is most available. That comes in the form of the oh-so cheap cafeteria food, or worse we scrounge up more money to have our lunch via the vending machine.
I calculated it once some time ago, and I save somewhere between \$20 -\$40 a week simply by planning ahead and bringing my own lunch as well as my own snacks.
Oh and not only is it a ‘pocket’ benefit, but just imagine the impact it can have on your health.

127. ##### Sarah

I’ve known I need to do this for a while now, but my husband and I work together and he’s not as keen on the idea. We spend an average of \$100 a week on lunches out (two of us combined), so we could save quite a bit!

128. ##### Ricardo

Pack lunches? Check. I have a rewards membership at the local A&P, so I usually buy cold cuts based on what’s on sale that week. So now I’ve been turned on to low-sodium ham. =)

The savings as compared to eating out during work are thus:

Eating out = 5 x \$7.50 = \$37.50
Packing lunch = 5 x (\$0.10 + \$0.50 + \$0.50 + \$0.25 + \$0.05) = \$7.00
(This is an estimate, but the addition covers two slices of bread, a couple slices of meat, then cheese, lettuce/spinach, and finally mustard)

Savings = \$30 / week = \$120 / month. Awesome.

129. ##### Amanda

For this one, I blew it yesterday….BUT.

I pack lunches nearly every single day, and maybe eat lunch out once every two weeks (dinner out less often even than that–maybe once a month), and it’s because I like my co-workers and don’t get to hang out with them outside of work. So at most by doing this I would have saved \$15 this entire month, and it’s not worth it to me because I rarely get to enjoy these people’s company. :/

But yeah, I blew it. Still going to try to do all the other tips though!

130. ##### Alice

I’ve been packing my lunch for years. I can’t imagine shelling out \$5.00 a day for packaged lunch that won’t taste as good or be as healthy as the one I’m bringing for less than \$2.00, and is homemade from mostly organic ingredients.

131. ##### Lorie

I already pack my lunch. But I think an interesting twist to this is to have my kids pack thier lunches which currently cost me in excess of \$30 a week! I am challenging my children to pack at least three times a week. Savings = roughly \$18 week or about \$72 for the month. That’s a great start!!

I usually eat out for lunch every day when I am at work. So this adds up to about (5 days * \$6 * 4 weeks) = \$120 just for lunch in a month. I aim to just start bringing my lunch twice a week, so this will cut down eating out to (3 days * \$6 * 4 weeks) = \$72….. and bringing my lunch (2 days * \$3 * 4 weeks) = \$24. So this will end up saving me: \$120 – (\$72 + \$24) = \$24 a month? Hmmm…

133. ##### Mo

I started taking my lunch a few years ago because I was trying to eat healthier foods especially food with less sodium. I hated having to get a lunch ready each morning to I started making a whole weeks worth of meals to pick from. I spend about an hour or so on either Saturday or Sunday morning getting it ready and then put it in the fridge. Everything is wrapped and ready to go. I use a lunch size cooler bag and each morning I open the fridge and pick out something for breakfast and lunch. I like having fat free yogurt with fruit and my home-made granola on top each morning. I fill up 5 glass cups with a plastic lids with yogurt and fruit and 5 snack bags with my granola and put them in the fridge. In the winter, I like soup so I make enough vegetable soup for the week in my crock pot. It takes me about 10 minutes to make because I use low sodium V-8 juice for my base and then I add frozen/fresh vegetables, beans and whatever spices I like. I let it simmer for about 3 hours and when it is cooled down, I fill mason jars and put them in the fridge with my other lunch stuff. I have all my vitamins in a little vitamin box that I can pick one of those up too. I drink water, coffee or tea at work so I keep my favourite teas and some Crystal light in my desk for variety. I line everything up so all I have to do is reach in and pick 1 thing up from each line and off I go. For snacks, I have either fresh fruit or fruit cups ready to go with a little bag of walnuts.

So for about an hours worth of my time, I can get a whole weeks worth of breakfasts and lunches ready that I know are going to be healthy and cost very little. While I’m preparing my food, I like to listen to books on tape/cd and the time flies by. In the summer, I replace my soup with salads.

I wanted to add a note for the woman who reuses zip-lock bags and recycled Gatorade bottles, if you ever knew how much bacteria is still in those plastic containers after they’ve been washed, you would stop using them. You would be much better off investing in a good stainless steel water bottle like the ones from Sigg and some small glass pyrex cups with lids.

134. ##### Rhonda

As with many of the other participants I already brown bag it most of the time, and the few times I do eat out I usually keep it on the cheap, between 3 & \$6 at the local food coop. But as Tina, Lisa and Lorie mentioned, I can extend this idea to my school-aged son and make sure I stock the house with ingredients for him to pack his school lunches. This is one of those things that we do sometimes, and he doesn’t mind packing his own lunch, but when things get busy we run out of easy things to pack and then end up popping for school lunches. And bringing your own lunch doesn’t necessarily mean eating less, or not eating well. Fruit, cut up veggies, boiled eggs, good bread, there are loads of quality things that you can pack, still keeping it cheap, and avoiding most refined foods which can help us stay more healthy. If I manage to avoid the school lunch bill I think we could save about \$30.00 this month (after subtracting back out the grocery supplies for packing the lunches).

135. ##### Keeley

We already started doing this a while ago. Here’s my calculation:

lunches 5x/week@ \$7/day x 4.5weeks/mo minus
\$6/week x 4.5weeks/mo for cost of bagged lunches

= \$157.50 – \$27 = \$130.50 Total savings.

136. ##### sailor

Don’t forget the gas you probably save driving to lunch. Yep, have been doing this one too.

Good Tip from me: Make sure when you are planning your lunches that you use what you have at home. Can’t tell you how many times things go bad because I forget I have them. Bummer = waste of \$.

Another tip: plan meals and all necessary items for one whole week (7 days, not 5) and write that down. Buy when you can or if freshness is important and you have time, shop every few days.

JUST SAY NO to your inner greediness.

137. ##### Rosemary

I have always packed my own lunch, and my husband just recently started in an effort to save money. Needless to say, we’ve seen a huge drop in our food bill just from him joining me. We stock up on snacks like nuts, dried fruit, yogurt and granola bars to keep at work, and then daily pack something simple – either leftovers from dinner, a salad with chicken and soy nuts, or a sandwich, along with fresh fruit.

Erica – it’s really not that hard. We make two lunches in about 10 minutes every morning, so there’s no need to eat a week-old sandwich. I’m fussy about having things taste stale too. For example, a sandwich could be made by putting all your ingredients in a tupperware – meat and cheese on the bottom, then some cucumber, pickles, lettuce, snap the lid on. Wrap up some good bread seperately, toast it when it’s lunch time, and keep a bottle of mustard in the fridge. Everything tastes fresh and about \$20 worth of ingredients will last a week. Same goes for the salad – keep the nuts or seeds aside in a container, add dressing on when it’s time to eat, and you’re done. It’s really not that silly.

138. ##### AT&T Wireless: Can’t Quite Optimize, May Leave for T-Mobile — Green Panda Treehouse

[…] Photo Credit:  Ramit Sethi […]

139. ##### JE

I agree with everyone who’s unimpressed with this tip. If you’re going to promise “no stupid frugality tips”, then you probably should have started off the series with something a little more original than the most basic of frugality tips.

140. ##### Mark Oates

Eating out frequently is my worst financial sin and biggest crutch. I’ll probably save more than \$200 with this.

141. ##### My Home in Israel :: Saving \$1000 in a month… :: November :: 2008

[…] Tip #1: Pack lunches for the rest of the week Good idea….I do that most days, so it isn’t going to save me any money, but it is a good valid international tip. […]

142. ##### Me

Every day for lunch one person from the office goes to the grocery store and buys stuff to make sandwiches and we split the cost. It work well and we normally end up spending less than 3 dollars.

143. ##### How To: \$1000 in 30 days Tips Round-up Part 1 « willywei

[…] Tip #1: Pack lunches for the rest of the week […]

144. ##### Gretchen

I didn’t go through ALL the comments (there are lots), but I wanted to mention a trick I use. I also “pack” breakfast. I never have enough time in the mornings, and breakfast is important, so I keep a box of cereal in my desk and a carton of milk in the staff fridge. Before I started doing this I was hitting the snack shop even though I had brought my lunch. A cup of tea and a bagel with cream cheese is \$4.00 – so I figure I’m saving \$20 a week minus the cost of the cereal and milk.

145. ##### Diana

This will save me € 80,- (i’m from Holland)
Thats \$ 101,78!!!

The first \$ 100,- for me this month!! thanks for the tip!

146. ##### Sarah

If you can’t see the svaings… check out bankrate.com’s calculator.

http://www.bankrate.com/brm/calculators/savings/lunch_savings_calculator.asp
This is some serious savings!

147. ##### G.L.

Wow, that’s a lot of comments. 🙂 I feel like I’m a bit late to the party, so I’ll just jump right in:

Alas, this tip doesn’t apply to me because I work from home and thus rarely if ever go out for lunch…

148. ##### Julie

I already work at home and don’t usually eat lunch. This will save me 0\$

149. ##### Amy

I have been coming home for lunch for over three months now and I am really burned out on it. I want some Chinese food, but I have gotten so use to taking my lunch and the budget is so tight now.

150. ##### neelam

I have packed lunches for my whole family for over 3 decades & I love it. I wouldn’t do it any other way.

151. ##### Alexandra

this is to Mo re: Bacteria in ziploc bags.
I’ve been reusing bottles and ziploc bags for YEARS and have never had any kind of illness or bad reaction.
I think the bottled water industry plays that up to try to keep us BUYING more rather than re-using.
We’ve been pakcing our lunches for ages too. SAved a boatload of moola.
I keep a pack of hot dogs and a bag of buns in the freezer at work for days i forget my lunch.

152. ##### Dale

This one isn’t as much of a money saver for me personally, because when I do eat lunch out, it’s rarely an expensive lunch. Even so, packing lunch does save me money. I’ve found a couple of things that help keep me on track. I keep some prepared foods that can be stored at room temperature in my office. That way, when I do forget to pack a lunch, I have something on hand to eat. I also keep some snacks around. Mostly, I prefer nuts for a snack. They are nutritious and not too bad if you are trying to diet.

153. ##### RookieMom Heather

We did it. We packed lunch all week. I average about \$12 per lunch out for 4 times this week. Alec averages about \$8 per lunch for 4 times this week. \$48 + \$32 = \$80 this week. I estimate that we’ll need to ease up in the coming weeks and let one extra day out into our lives so that’s \$60 times 3 more weeks for a total monthly savings of \$260 on this tip alone.

154. ##### Aaron

Although I do this, it is a great idea for people who don’t. What I like most about it is also saves me on calories!

155. ##### Susan

Hi Ramit,

You’re right, of course, packed lunches are cheaper and can be very yummy if you know how.

However, 2 things stop me:

1. TIME. Preparing my lunch takes me a critical amount of time in the morning that I just can’t afford to spend. I’m not willing to get up earlier to get my lunch ready and so I always struggle with having enough time for this. I’m not sure that the extra time spent is worth the money saved.

2. NETWORKING. At my workplace, going out to lunch with people is a critical component of networking. It has gotten me promoted, and you can tell a lot about who’s who at our office from the lunch groupings. Sure, I can say, “No thanks guys, I brought my lunch” or “I’ll just come with you and bring my own lunch” but it is not the same. Is bringing lunch worth the opportunity cost to networking?

I totally agree that this is a great way to save \$\$, but my former employer estimated that our daily free breakfasts, lunches and dinners were worth \$6,000 / employee / year. If that’s so, then I’d rather learn better negotiation and work strategies to earn back that extra \$6,000 (or more!).

My trick? I eat lunch out, but only a very small lunch that ends up costing \$5 to \$6 anyway.

156. ##### Amy

Okay, guys, I couldn’t take it anymore so I finally broke down and ordered Chinese takeout for dinner on Friday night which cost us about \$30.00 and we ate out on Saturday night which cost us about \$52.00 including the tip for a total of \$82.00. Although it was expensive, boy it sure did feel good. I felt like I had been denied for so long. Now, back to going home for lunch and eating dinner at home. We bought groceries this weekend so we are having tacos today and tomorrow for dinner. Every now and then give yourself a break from eating at home. You will appreciate eating at home more once you spend all of that money and flush it down the toliet.

157. ##### Barbara Jean Walsh

I work from home and never go out for lunch. Just by coincidence though, my weekly dinner group decided on a picnic this week, and so did my movie group (we’re all going to a drive-in where we can sit in lawn chairs and feed our faces). So, I’ll be saving something there, after all.

158. ##### Rob

I even have one better than this. My office provides groceries for us to make sandwiches, snacks, etc. etc.

159. ##### Aspen

I am just now reading this blog – tips are up through 7 now, but I was loving what I was reading so I went back to tip 1 and look forward to joining the challenge! Broke at the moment, Friday is payday, so will go do my lunch shopping and get started next week! My goal will be to start with 4 lunches packed, since I usually do 3 already. All that \$ I would spend gets put away… Love it!

160. ##### No Spend Days and Gasoline Hedging — Green Panda Treehouse

[…] Photo Credit: Ramit Sethi […]

161. ##### Tom

I found this great little chinese place near work. If I drink water, it costs me slightly less than \$25 per week to go out for lunch. I get soup and an entree. I usually cannot eat all of that and eat it for dinner too. 🙂 \$25/week for lunch and dinner…although I could save more, I still feel proud of myself

162. ##### Amy

Tom, that is very good. If I were you, I will continue to eat out until I got tired of it and then I would eat at home. You can not cook a meal at home, lunch and dinner, for \$25 a week. I love eating out but it is just so expensive.

163. ##### PDXGirl

In theory I already pack lunches, in practice I end up eating out as much as 3-4 times a week, sometimes getting breakfast and lunch out.

I can make a really delicious lunch with snacks for the daytime for under \$2 here’s what I have this week:
Turkey mini meatloafs
Roasted potatoes
Pudding
Yogurt
microwave popcorn
chips

That total comes to \$1.91 per lunch, versus \$5-\$12 if I eat out, so we’ll call that \$8 each on average, 3 days a week that’ll be \$24 I would have spent replaced by \$5.73 actually spent for a savings of \$18.27 this week.

If I do that all month we’ll be looking at \$73.08

164. ##### IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com Series — Tip #1: Pack lunches for the rest of the week — NMBankruptcyBlog.com | New Mexico Bankruptcy Law Blog

[…] Tip #1: Pack Lunches for the rest of the week The first tip is to go to the grocery store today and pack lunches for yourself all week. Sounds obvious, but below I’ll include some specific tips and social-psychological techniques to make this actually work. […]

I got lazy a long time ago – around the time I started being able to “afford” to eat out – and I eat the majority of my meals out now. For me, this is getting back to basics and I will be implementing this tip immediately.

Back in my poor days, when I couldn’t afford to eat in restaurants, this is what I did: Each Sunday I’d make a large pan of something – lasagna, casserole, a good heavy soup, etc. It has to be something you really enjoy. When it’s done cooking, parse it out into individual servings and freeze immediately. I use a vacuum sealer – that way, if I don’t eat the entire batch of food in a week, the food will still be good in a couple of weeks. Then you can just grab an individual serving out of the freezer before you leave for the office.

166. ##### Jennifer

I learned this tip pretty much straight out of college. It’s an oldie, but reliable. I grew up cooking for my family of 4. I never really learned how to cook for one — except in matters of things like steak which I no longer eat and salad which I eat in excess — so my first few months of living alone in an apartment on a meager salary meant I was taking leftovers for lunch every day. Fortunately, I already liked the food!
Those were in the days when I still used the microwave (a whole ‘nother story). I would simply portion out leftovers onto a plate and cover it with plastic wrap or use a divided plastic container and microwave it at work — fewer dishes to boot! Over the years, thankfully, I’ve learned a bit about cooking for one… But I still like to make certain things in big batches (google monthly cooking for examples).
Like some posters, I have to eat out sometimes. I’m fortunate that I’m in a job where if I’m not eating something from the infamous brown bag, my lunch is almost always purchased for me or expensed — the trouble is the calories!
A final thought — I spend a little time every Saturday going to the farmer’s market — I love supporting the local economy this way — and when I get home, I chop and otherwise prepare the produce for the coming week. The cauliflower and broccoli got individually broken down into florets and stored — they’ll be raw snacks, part of a veggie stir fry, components of roasted veggies and part of a veggie soup over the next week. I prepared the celery, the beets, the carrots, and so forth in a similar fashion. I also kept a lot of the parts to use in veggie broth (which I of course used for the soup) and used all the usable pieces (e.g., sauteed the beet greens and roasted the beets) … By doing chopping/bagging/etc for everything in one go, I am much more likely to eat at home at night — because it’s simply executing, sauteing or roasting or mixing rather than the whole job, which can seem overwhelming after a difficult day.
At any rate, this isn’t a new tip for me; I estimate I spend about \$200 less per month than I would if I didn’t have the discipline to stick to cooking dinner and taking my lunch.

167. ##### Lane

Lunch is free at my job. Next tip.

168. ##### CarolAnn

There are 3 girls in my office and we take turns providing lunch for all 3 of us. On your day you bring in enough food for 3 people either sandwiches/wraps, salads, or even something that can be nuked and served hot, (making things in bulk is cheaper too) then we all eat the same thing and enjoy it together which means we’re not bumming out about what we have versus what someone else has that day and the next day it’s some one elses turn so we don’t get totally bored with 3 days of salad with turkey on top or sandwiches every day. 1 day we are all on our own and 1 day we eat out.

169. ##### Comer Bem? « D-a-r-t

[…] E a solução? Fazer lanchinho em casa e levar para o trabalho? O nosso colega Ramit Sethi do Iwillteachyoutoberich diz que sim. Mas a dica dele tem mais a ver com economizar em períodos de crise do que com […]

170. ##### Lynn

Well, this WAS helpful for me. Yes, it’s obvious, yes, I should have been doing it all along.. but I wasn’t. I especially like the suggestion to make all thelunches at one time and lable them. What often hinders me is having to make a lunch every day.. duh. I don’t know WHY I wasn’t doing this already.. anyway it was helpful for me, so thanks

171. ##### jon

i eat out quite a bit for lunch, and nearly every day for breakfast.

breakfast: avg \$3.50 * 5 = 17.5/week
lunch @ 2x/week = \$20/week
37.5/week * 4 = 150.

I will save \$150 in a month by eating breakfast at home and carrying in lunch every week.

172. ##### nil

This is terrible advice for anyone who works at a company that provides free meals (for example: Google)

173. ##### Ramit Sethi

Yes, nil, you’re right. This is terrible advice for the 0.0000000000001% of companies that provide free lunches to their employees. I guess I wasn’t targeting them.

174. ##### Amy

Jon, don’t forget about the cost of purchasing the items to make your breakfast and lunch. You must subtract these expenses from your savings.

175. ##### Erica P

This is something I’ve already decided I need to do… but the idea of packing ahead of time (because I do tend to oversleep and then say, “screw it, I’ll eat out today.”) will DEFINITELY help me.

176. ##### Tom Ricks

Nil (and everyone else out there with their heads up their you know what), Ramit provdies these tips to help others save money. Obviously if you receive a free lunch at work, you would not benefit buy packing a lunch. I know I have no clout here, but seriously if the tip doesn’t apply to you or if you have nothing positive to add, why not say nothing?

177. ##### nil

Google isn’t the only company providing free meals. Even Transmeta provided free meals through the early part of the company’s history. The moral of my comment is that you could save even more money if you became a talented software or hardware engineer in the right part of the country where such benefits are more common than some people commenting on this blog make them out to be and you limited your employment search to those places that serve free meals you stand to come out far ahead on meal costs. I know of real estate companies in Texas that offered employees free snacks and drinks as well. The longer you keep your employees at work, the more likely they are to actually eventually focus on work (though eventually that may tend towards gossip over which snacks will disappear next). At least for my own part, i took a job with lower pay and free meals after I calculated that another company’s cafe would cost me an average of \$7/meal at best.

Ramit, you should know better than anyone that the percentage you gave multiplied by the number of people on earth doesn’t even come out to 1 person, and far more than one person works at Google, and Google is not the alone in its benefits. There are plenty of places in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, and even in Minnesota.

Perhaps 0.000002% of the world population gets free lunches at work, but I’d wager that those that do are *very likely* readers of this blog.

178. ##### Joe

Working in Boston, I can verify that 99.999999% of employers DO NOT offer free lunch. Viga, Metro Cafe, Sebastian’s, and other lunch places each get several hundred customers pouring in at lunchtime. Seems like this is good advice for them. I suppose the other percentage can spend their (free) lunch hour browsing this blog for other helpful tips. 🙂

179. ##### Amy

The thing for all of us to remember is that all of us are looking for ways to save money, some more than others. Although some tips may not apply to you, some do and for those of you who are missing 50% of your household income due to the economy such as I, you are probably doing all you can do right now to save and have probably exhausted your savings and working on credit card debt as well. Remember on the plus side, things will pick up.

180. ##### Reno Fernandez

I am a bankruptcy attorney, so bringing my lunch has had a twofold impact: (1) I save about \$100/week; and (2) I am more available at work, which impresses my clients and my boss. In addition to bringing a sandwich, I keep a basket of fruit in my office, which keeps my energy up and is cheaper than coffee overall.

181. ##### How Am I Doing With Ramit’s Save \$1,000 Challenge? Part 2 — Green Panda Treehouse

[…] Photo Credit: Ramit Sethi […]

182. ##### Jan

Hey Ramit,

Great post and great blog! I very much like this suggestion of packing your own lunches. It’s something that I’ve already been doing for a long time. Being a student, I can certainly use the extra cash saved from not going out to lunch. And usually it’s healthier and a lot tastier too if you bring your own food! I thought I’d pick up on this post on my own blog and combine my interests in personal finance and food. I’ll try to post a different lunch idea for a week or so, to give people some extra ideas. Packing the same sandwich everyday gets pretty lame after a day or three! I hope you’ll like what I come up with!
Cheers,

183. ##### Vivian

Hey, I’m already doing this for lunch (lucky enough to have a parent who owns a store and on my way to work!!) but I guess I should do this for dinner … many times, I’ll buy food for when I’m on my way to my second job or school …

what I will be saving:
currently spend = \$40/week
“lunchbox” meals cost = \$15/week
go out to lunch 1x/week = \$10/week

Total Saving = \$15/week, roughly \$780/year or \$65/month

184. ##### phillygrrl

Definitely something I’ve been making a point to do for the past few weeks with this bad economy. Thanks for the breakdown!

185. ##### Saving the Green « My Philadelphia Story

[…] list of tips Pack lunches for the rest of the week Turn your thermostat down 3 degrees Sell something on eBay today Involve your friends in your […]

186. ##### Diana

I eat out 5 days a week for breakfast and lunch plus I get coffee everyday. If I eat breakfast at home and pack my lunch (from leftovers) and make coffee at home, I would save \$95 week

187. ##### Save Money during the Recession | Sassy Women

[…] in 30 days Challenge over at I Will Teach You To Be Rich.  Some of the options are no brainers (Pack lunches for the rest of the week), while some are pretty innovative (Use gas prices to become your own hedge […]

188. ##### New Year resolutions | Green + Chic

[…] you to be Rich has a lot of money saving tips for those who are new to tightening their wallets.  Tip #1: Pack lunch for the rest of the week can make a great start for […]

189. ##### Creando riqueza con el inglés | Estudiar

[…] ¿Qué papel juega el inglés en todo esto? Un papel importantísimo porque el inglés te abre las puertas a la información planetaria, sí exactamente, no sólo a la información de tu país, si no la del mundo mundial. Y de ahí, puedes coger muchas, muchas más ideas e inspiración no sólo para crear algo y ampliar tu audiencia, sino también para resolver problemas. Mira aquí cómo Ramit Sethi nos enseña a ahorrar (en inglés). […]

190. ##### 25 Tips on How to Save Money Today

[…] Batch your lunch preparation: prepare lunch for the entire week […]

191. ##### Lunch For The Week : Randy and Rachel’s Weblog

[…] on Sunday for about a month and a half now.  We make them for the whole week at once.  This was Ramit’s first tip in the save \$1,000 in a month challenge.  We had been trying to bring our lunches for a while but […]

192. ##### jana

i used to pack my lunces in most of my jobs bar one, and now i kinda have to because lunch possibilities in the area where i work are very limited. i cannot count the exact amount this has saved me but it did, a lot. only thing i have changed is i do not spend my lunch break working as i used to – i use it for walking etc., as it is healthier (plus has many psychological benefits comprade to just working longer hours), or for reading mags or calling friends/fanily, as it is more fun.

193. ##### Amy

I also use my lunchbreak for walking, eating lunch, and running errands.

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