K-State Research and Extension News
March 11, 2010
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Savings on Lunch Can Add Up

GARDEN CITY, Kan. – Packing, rather than buying lunch can be well worth the effort.

Computing the weekly, monthly – or annual – savings may be all that it takes to decide to dine in, said Linda Beech, a Kansas State University Research and Extension family and consumer sciences agent based in Finney County, Kan., and a frequent teacher of money management. 

Calculating the savings also can be fun, said Beech, who happened across a Lunch Savings Calculator (http://aarp.org/money/toolkit/articles/lunch_savings_calculator.html) while doing some financial management homework prior to launching Extension's Kansas Saves campaign earlier this year. She learned about the calculator from America Saves, a financial education campaign from the Consumer Federation of America. 

To compute the lunch savings, type in the average price currently paid for a purchased lunch, number of lunches per month, number of years (for savings estimate), expected rate of return and estimated cost of packing a lunch.

If, for example, the average cost of eating out is $6 a day five days a week (20 meals a month), while the average cost of packing a lunch costs $3 per day for the same period, the monthly savings could be $60, and yearly savings (with 3 percent interest) could be $732. Savings over a three-year period (also at 3 percent interest) could add up to $2,261, and over a five-year period, $3,884.

During a 40-year career, depositing the lunch savings of $3 a day in an interest bearing account (at 3 percent interest) could yield $55,167.  

To increase savings, Beech suggested cooking at home, rather than buying convenience items for lunches. Examples include cooking a chicken, ham or beef roast for sandwich meats rather than buying more expensive prepared luncheon meats, or portioning homemade pudding, gelatin or mixed fruit rather than buying pre-packaged single-serve cups.

Incorporating leftovers into lunches also can save time, she said.

More information about basic budgeting and managing money is available at K-State Research and Extension offices throughout the state and online at: www.ksre.ksu.edu and www.ksre.ksu.edu/financialmanagement/.

Beech also maintains an e-mail list for a monthly money management tip-sheet called Extension Money Matters. The financial tips are free, sent within the body of an e-mail, and confidential. To subscribe, e-mail her at lbeech@ksu.edu.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Nancy Peterson
K-State Research & Extension News

Linda Beech is at 620-272-3670.