Eating out for lunch is not as popular as it used to be.
At least that's what the Wall Street Journal says. The publication found Americans made 433 million fewer trips to restaurants for lunch last year, resulting in about $3.2 billion in lost business. It was the lowest level of lunch traffic in four decades.
Instead of going out for lunch and maybe a cocktail or two, Americans are opting for fresh groceries and are packing their lunch.
So how much does it cost to pack a lunch during the work week?
While everyone has different food preferences, ABC10 looked at traditional American lunch options to compare. Prices used were based on Amazon Fresh for the Sacramento area and for a single person.
How much does it cost to make a basic sandwich?
One loaf of Oroweat 100% whole wheat bread: $2.99
Sargento Provolone sliced cheese (12 slices): $4.29
1 lb. Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh, Oven Roasted Turkey Breast or Smoked Ham: $3.50
Hass Avocado: $1.79/each
1 head romaine lettuce: $1.99
Greenhouse beefsteak medium tomato: $1.29 each
Don't forget the condiments, which should last several weeks...
12 oz. Kraft Mayo Real Mayonnaise: $2.58
French's Classic Yellow Mustard: $1.69
While variables, such as number of tomatoes and avocados bought, apply- the grocery list above should last about 7 days. Prices for the week start at about $16, if a person were to buy all the sandwich fixings on the list. Add in the condiments and it's closer to $20. A loaf of bread typically has about 18 slices so there'd be enough to make about 9 sandwiches, more than enough for a work week.
How about adding a side?
Sandwiches are usually served with a side of chips or for a healthier option, let's say baby carrots and hummus.
Pringles 2 Flavor Snack Packs, 100 calories (18 count): $6.48
Frito Lay Classic Mix Variety Pack (20 count): $6.99
10 oz Sabra Classic Hummus: $2.99
1 lb. baby carrots: $1.56
If choosing to buy carrots and hummus for the week, add on an extra $4.55. For chips, about $6.50 to $7. This still puts your total price for sandwich and a side at less than $30 for the week.
But I don't want to eat a sandwich for lunch...
Ok. Let's say it's easier to heat up a quick frozen lunch.
A Lean Cuisine cost between $2.63 to $3.50 a meal. That's about $13 to $17.50 for a work week.
If a light, green lunch sounds good, how about a packaged salad kit?
10 oz Taylor Farms Salad Kit: $3.00 to $4.49.
The price for 5 salad kits can range from $15 to about $22.50 a week.
Add chicken breast:
14 oz Just Bare, boneless/skinless chicken breast (about 3 chicken breasts): $5.16 ($5.90/lb)
If adding protein to a salad, the cost for the week could total about $20 to $28.
2.6 oz Starkist albacore white tuna pouch: $1.25/pouch
Buying 5 pouches will cost you $6.25 for the week.
If dairy is preferred for protein intake, try packing a Greek yogurt.
Chobani 'Fruit at the Bottom' Greek Yogurt: $1.00 for a 5.3 oz cup.
I'm craving Chipotle...
While it takes a little more effort and prep time, try packing a burrito or burrito bowl.
32 oz Mahatma Enriched extra long grain white rice: $1.69
15.5 oz Goya black beans (1 can): $0.88
20 oz Mission, 10 inch burrito flour tortillas, 8 count: $2.50
16 oz La Victoria salsa verde, thick 'n chunky, medium: $1.79
If packing for a week, it's likely about 2 cans of beans would be necessary. If all ingredients, including tortillas, were bought, the price for a week would cost about $7.75. Adding chicken would be an extra $5.16, putting the cost at about $13. Without the tortillas, the price is about $10.50 to make bowls. Keep in mind, the rice would probably last a single person a couple weeks.
The average price of one chicken burrito at Chipotle is about $7.
Whether packing a sandwich, salad, a frozen meal or a home-cooked burrito, the average price of making and packing lunch for the week is under $30.
If wanting to keep in the same budget while eating out for lunch during the work week, a person would have to spend $6 or less on a meal per day, likely limiting the options to mostly fast food.