Saving Money by Brown Bagging It

Being able to save money is a great thing, but one that is often difficult for many of us. Over the past year I have been looking for ways of maximizing my savings rate in a number of ways.  For example, saving money was the major reason why I moved to where I did. I moved to a convenient location where I could walk to wherever I need to go rather than have to drive or take public transportation. By cutting the cost of transportation out of the equation I am saving $110 per month ($1,320 per year), whereas that was what I was spending 6 months ago.

But over the past year I made other changes as well. I had got my new job at the start of 2017 and for the first six months I would go out for lunch during my lunch hour. My usual spot was McDonalds which is right across the street from where I work. I was usually there 5 days per week (the amount of days I work). This was probably not very healthy, but on the positive side, since I have been a long-term shareholder of MCD I guess I did contribute to my own dividend payouts. 😛

I would spend about $5 for lunch each day (plus or minus a few cents). That equates to about $25 per week or $100 per month spent on lunches. If I continued to do that I would have spent $1,000 per year on lunches. That is probably on the lower end of the spending scale as one survey showed that 66% of working Americans spend an average of $37 per week (or nearly $2,000) per year on lunches. This was one expense I knew I wanted to reduce and knew that I could reduce it.

So once I started living on my own I began “brown bagging it”. I don’t actually use a brown bag. One zip lock bag with a plastic ice pack does the trick. I began packing a sandwich for lunch instead of eating out in fast food restaurants or otherwise.  How much does that cost now? I now spend about $9.50 per week for lunch meat and a loaf of bread (compared to $25 per week). That means I am spending $38 on lunch per month (compared to $100).  That equates to $456 per year spent on lunches as opposed to $1000 per year. Thus, by changing my lunch habits I am saving $544 per year.

Sounds good to me! I noticed a great many of my co-workers go out or order out for lunch every single working day. To each his or her own, but I could not imagine myself doing that every day. Even conservatively estimating, say each working day you are spending $10 ordering out on your lunch each day. That is $50 per week and $200 per month spent on lunches on a 5 day work week.

It is not always easy for many of us to change habits. When it comes to saving money, the best way to do it seems to be in small steps that get bigger over time. If you want to cut down on your lunch expenses try bringing your own lunch to work instead. Start with bringing your own lunch 2-3 times per week. When I made the transition I started at 4 times per week. I did that mainly because I bought lunch meat and a loaf of bread and it didn’t make sense to have all that just to eat once per week. Now, I bring a sandwich to work every day.

I am quite satisfied with the amount I am saving on food expenses. I recently started tracking how much I am spending each month on food and my spending on lunch for the month was included in that. By “brown bagging it” I have managed to save a large sum of money. More money saved means more money to invest in dividend stocks and continously build up my portfolio and passive income.  It has worked out well for me and can work out well for you as well. So how about the rest of you? Do you bring your own lunch to work?


  1. Engineering Dividends

    Bringing your lunch has a two-pronged effect. First, it allows you to invest the extra money, and second, it keeps your expenses lower, making it easier for the investment account to grow to a level to match your expenses. You’ll be at FI before you know it! I can’t say I’m as good as you with bringing my lunch. Maybe once a week I bring lunch, and sometimes I go home for lunch. The rest of the time, I eat out. Nothing fancy, as the main goal (other than eating, of course), is to get away from the office for a bit.

    1. My Dividend Dynasty (Post author)

      Hi Engineering Dividends! Yep, you are right about that. I tend to eat my lunch in a park that is a few blocks from where I work. It is nice to get out of the office for an hour lol. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  2. Mr. Robot

    Good job Dynasty! I’ve been making lunch until I started my new job 2 months ago. Now it costs me about 48 euro a month to eat a healthy lunch at work. Best of both worlds since I eat a lot of bio organic foods which my company also buys.

    1. My Dividend Dynasty (Post author)

      Thanks Mr. Robot! It is great that your saving money and eating healthy as well. 🙂

  3. Dividend Diplomats

    MDD –

    Brown bag every day : ) Also – try peanutbutter sandwiches and you’ll save even more, guarantee it!


  4. My Dividend Dynasty (Post author)

    Hi Lanny! Peanutbutter sandwiches would indeed save me even more money. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to peanuts lol. Glad to see I’m not alone in brown bagging it everyday. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  5. Dividend Portfolio

    I wish I had your self discipline Dynasty. I greatly struggle with my food budget. In fact, I spend so much money on food, it’s ridiculous. Brown bagging lunch seems like a great idea to save money.


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