Cost of Lunch


I was reading a financial article the other day that suggested that by cutting back on the number of times one dines out for lunch, from five to three days a week, one could save $1560 per year based on a $15 price tag for food, drink, tax and tip.

To which I thought, "$15 for lunch? Whaaaaaaaaaaa?!"

A splurge lunch for me is a trip to the local Indian buffet, where eleven bucks gets you out the door with a full all-you-can-eat meal (with ice water-- I rarely order beverages in restaurants). More commonly I might go to Wendy's, a Chinese or teriyaki place, or perhaps a sandwich shop-- all of which would feed me for under seven dollars. And in our cafeteria I can get a chicken sandwich and fries for $4.05.

Fifteen bucks? Who the heck blows fifteen bucks on lunches twice a week, let alone every day? Granted, my world view is skewed-- I don't own, let alone wear, a power tie. Or a suit, for that matter. So I'm not hob-nobbing with martinis in steak houses and sushi bars. But really, is the average Joe plunking down fifteen bucks when he goes out for lunch? Am I really that far outside the norm here?

The comments are open for your take on the question.


It doesn't answer your question exactly, but if your question were: Assuming I knew what the average cost of lunch was, what would happen if I invested it at a 6% growth rate over four years?, then this would answer it:

And as a default anyway, it gives $6.50 as the price of eating lunch out. That seems more standard to me.

Welcome to New York, where even a salad and an iced tea from the corner deli will cost you ten bucks.

I suspect this may be a bimodal distribution. You are outside the norm for yuppie wankers, marketers, schmoozers, and their ilk.

And let's not even head into discussion of those who buy breakfast every day.

I spend about $3.50 at subway (no drink)

If I actually leave campus, $10-15 isn't out of the question for lunch, but on campus my choices are wendy's, pizza slut or taco hell, all $5 or less.

I have to agree with Mitchell... It is widely accepted in NYC that it just costs $20 to leave your apartment. I fondly refer to it as the front door tax.

Although... If you're looking for a good deli sandwich for $5.50 in the West 40's have I got a place for you.

Is your cafeteria lunch subsidized by the company? $4 for sandwich and fries sound like a pretty good deal.

I've been saving my lunch money starting the last few months, but before that, here are my typical lunches (incl. 5% MA tax and 15% tip) --

Chinese (non-americanized, ordering real dishes from dinner menu to share family style) - $15
Thai - $10
Brazillian BBQ - $12
Korean BBQ (once every 2 months?) - $20+
Indian - $10
Italian (pasta, not chain, not pizza) - $10
Mexican (not chain, not burrito) - $9

so throw in an occasional shared appetizer, and $15 average is not that far off for me.

These days I'm packing lunch a lot and when not, I am eating Progresso canned soup for about $1 when on sale. :-P :-)

Man, just writing about this makes me want to get a group together and splurge tomorrow or Friday...

I (also) have the bad habit of eating lunch out most days. Lunch is generally $8-10 including tax and tip. This is almost always for sit down service. Some days we get cafeteria style which is a bit cheaper, mostly because of no tip. Of course Pittsburgh is known for a low cost of living, so I'm not sure if these numbers are meaningful.

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