Ask the Readers: Do You Buy or Pack Your Lunch?

By Ashley Jacobs on 13 September 2011 200 comments
Photo: Bill Ward

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Bryan, Garon, and Jennifer W for winning this week's contest!

If you don't work from home, chances are you eat at least one meal a day outside the comfort of your home. When it comes to lunch, some people prefer to save money by bringing their lunch to work. Others opt to eat out when lunch hour rolls around.

Do you buy or pack your lunch?  Or do you do both depending on the day? If you have kids, do you take the time to make your kid's lunches the night before or send them off in the morning with a few dollars to use at their school cafeteria? 

Tell us if you buy or pack your lunch and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, September 19th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after September 19th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Jess G.

I usually bring my lunch, but sometimes I go through phases where I buy every day! Today I'm treating myself to lunch out since I'm going to run errands on the lunch hour.

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Selene

We're retired, so no work issues. If we're home, we eat lunch at home. If we're traveling, we pack a sandwich and eat while moving.

kg4rmt at arrl dot net

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Selene

I Like you on Facebook as Selene Montgomery

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Bryan

I always pack my lunch. Better food and cheaper!

Guest's picture

It's 50/50 for me. Half the time I remember to pack my lunch and the other half I either don't have time or forget to grab it on my way out the door. I also find that I often eat more healthy foods when I buy them onsite. For example, I'll load up on salad from the salad bar rather than just brining a sandwich from home.

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Twyla

we're make-lunchers. There's no place in town to get a non-deep fried lunch anyways.

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Guest

Kids get to buy once a week for fun [part of their allowance though] and we pack the rest of their lunches
If I'm going to be out during lunch I usually pack something unless the meal is a social event.
Hubby ALWAYS buys - when he eats - lunch. We tried the packing - he runs around so much it was either boiling in his car or wherever he WASN'T when it was time to eat - we budget for the amount.

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Guest

I bring my lunch for the most part. Usually it's leftovers from dinner the night before, so it's not too hard to stuff it in a Corelle container, cap it up, and stash it in a lunch bag. I've done some pretty fancy stuff before too, like wraps, but generally it's all in the container.

I do eat out once in a wihle, but only if I've scheduled to do so with someone.

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Carson M.

I do both, sometimes it's convenient to bring a lunch while other times it's desirable to eat out with my colleagues and clients. All depends on the day and the nature of my personal finances...or if the coworkers are paying :)

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Guest

My tweet:

https://twitter.com/#!/wheretigerswill/status/113599900331155456

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Charlotte

Bring my lunch everyday, its more economical, healthier and tastier.

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Christie

We pack lunches here!! My hubby works less than 4 miles from home so he either packs a lunch or comes home to spend the time and eat with us! He does go out to eat one day a week, using the gift cards he asks for and is blessed with for birthdays and Christmas. But who has $5 - $8 to spend every day? Do you know how much that is a year?? If you did, you would be shocked. $1250 a year if you eat out every day (250 days a year) and never spend more than $5. I can understand the occasional treat, but it loses its meaning as a daily occurrence.

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Amy

I just started a new job (3 hours around lunch time), where I can get lunch for free there. But I'm not thrilled with the food. So I'm eating before I go and snacking a little after. We'll see how this works.

I pack my kid's lunches almost every day. (They are allowed to pick 2 school lunches per month as a "treat".) It's worth the effort. The schools are trying to do healthier options, but it's still not as good as I can do for my kids.

(P.S. I liked your facebook page. Can't believe I didn't do that before now!)

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Staycee

I eat at home since I work 5 blocks from my house. My children have a lunch account and always eat at school. Between the three of them eating 4 days a week (we have 4 day school) their lunch and milk breaks cost me a total of $100 per month for all three children. (Which is, I think, cheaper and easier than packing lunches every day for them.) I love going home for lunch and occasionally when my husband suggests we go out, we still end up going home!

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KSelwyn

I pack my lunch every night for the next work day. I always include 1 item or serving from each food group, including a sweet treat. To reduce my urge to go out for lunch on the weekends, I pre-plan a special lunch for Saturday afternoon, usually consisting of something that would be too difficult to carry to work for lunch during the week.

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Carry

I almost always pack my own lunch. It's healthier to eat a big green salad and a bowl of homemade soup than it is to eat salt- and fat-laded restaurant concoctions.

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Claire

I bring my lunch every day. No kids to pack for. However, in order to successfully bring my lunch every day, I make a big pot/container of whatever to take from for the week; i.e. I make a big container of marinated veggies or a crock pot of soup. If I can portion that out (and the rest of my lunch) into containers Sunday night for the whole week, I'm good. Just grab & go! :)

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Maggie

I pack my lunch every day - since I live alone, it's easy to have leftovers from dinner (especially since I'm ok with eating the same thing for a week). About once a month I do go out with coworkers to lunch, but it's not a regular thing.

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Cathie

Most days I bring my lunch from home. I will buy lunch maybe 2 or 3 times a month. I make my son's lunch in the morning, as part of our morning routine (who wants a soggy sandwich???) Last year, he purchased lunch all year, and it seemed like I was loading his account every other day-I'm afraid to look and see how much he actually spent on lunch. It seems that they will allow a child to buy whatever he/she wants as long as there is money in the account, and my son has a Doritos habit. So now I buy a big bag of Doritos and portion a few chips into a baggie. He can feed his habit (although it's not an every day thing anymore) and we are saving money.

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Cathie

I already "like" on FB.

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Cathie

http://twitter.com/#!/carey805/status/113609301414780928

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I always, always, always pack my lunch. I only take out about ten bucks in cash once every couple weeks so to blow any of that on lunch seems extravagent when you have so little in your wallet.

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GP

I try to bring my lunch to work as often as possible, even if I eat the same thing several days in a row. It is less expensive than buying lunch and it is often healthier. ;)

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Encore

I brown bag it 3-4 times per week as I find it saves on the wallet and the waistline! Of course there's something to be said about going out to lunch with the co-workers to build additional camaraderie.

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Kate

I almost always pack my lunch-much cheaper and healthier! I only buy when I've been traveling, or haven't been able to get to the grocery store!

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Jacki

I pack my lunch. It's usually leftovers from the night before. Anything from pasta, to chicken, to fish, noodles, etc. Sometimes it's a sandwich if I'm lazy and there's nothing leftover. And I supplement it with snacks.

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Nechama

Pack! unless I'm absolutely desperate

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Dani

I unfortunately tend to buy lunch, but I am always looking for each packed lunch ideas.

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KarenJ

I work from 10am to 8pm Monday through Thursday and Friday 10am-4pm (yes, that's 46 hours!). I bring both my lunch and dinner. Part of it is frugality, party is convenience (I work in an area where there is a lot of traffic and it can take a half hour or more just to get to a place to eat), but a big part of it is for my health. I eat a gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar free diet, so most of what's available doesn't fit my way of eating. Frequently co-workers order in pizza, sandwiches and chinese, but I don't partake. Frankly, I don't know how people can afford to pay for their meals out every day. I barely make enough to pay my bills! My husband and I spend every Sunday morning cooking at least two meals to eat for the week and a large salad, which I replenish by Wednesday. It's a lot of work but worth it for all the reasons above.

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I bring my lunch to work every day. Saves me at least $100 per month.

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Garon

Pack my lunch. It would cost a fortune other wise.

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Karen

I bring my lunch to work every day and, sadly, eat it at my desk while surfing the web!

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RazzBari

Pack - usually leftovers, with a yogurt and a can of V8 kept in my desk.

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Carmen

I always pack my lunch! I usually make them on Sunday afternoons and then bring them to work with me on Monday for the week. The types of meals change with the seasons. Currently, I'm making salads with organic spring mix, organic veggies (tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, etc.) with black beans on top. I have a mini fridge in my office so it's convenient for me to have my whole week of meals at work for me. I never have an excuse to go buy lunch!

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Angie

Both, but I usually pack. Most days I pack a PB&J and an apple, go see my baby at the sitters and nurse him before I go back to work

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Kristen

I usually pack my lunch for work. I might eat out for lunch once every two or three weeks, usually to satisfy a craving for things I don't typically make at home, like a slice of pizza (from Costco across the street for only a dollar and change) or a burger (from Five Guys). Nothing that will blow my budget.

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Francesca

My husband and I pack our lunches. Maybe someday we can afford to go out for lunch once in a while!

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lostAnnfound

I actually work from home, so I "pack" my lunch.

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Alex

I try and pack my lunch each day, but many times I fail to get up early enough. Maybe I should pack it the night before...

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Margaret

I run home for lunch.

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Erin

Sometimes I pack my lunch, sometimes I buy - it depends on the day. In general, I try to pack my lunch at least three times a week, but I almost always buy lunch at least one day a week, usually on a Friday, when I'll go out with a colleague.

If I know I'll have to work late, I'll "pack" dinner, but leave it at home - so I have something ready to eat as soon as I get home - but I'll buy lunch so I have an excuse to get out of the office for a break, and as a reward for all the hard work I'm doing.

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Erin

Liked you on Facebook!

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Lisa

I do a combination. I work at a large hospital with a moderately decent cafeteria. However, buying a full meal there can get expensive. So I bring an entree from home (chicken or a sandwich or something similar) and augment it with cheap cafeteria sides. I can get a salad from the salad bar for $1 or a cup of soup for about the same price. I store salad dressing in my breakroom fridge to reduce the weight of my salad and make it cheaper.

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Cork

Since I start work fairly early in the morning, I back both breakfast and lunch almost everyday. I say "almost" because sometimes I eat breakfast before I go to work! We have 2 girls in school and they both pack lunches everyday.

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Jean

pack

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Stacy

I pack my lunch most days, but allow myself to eat out about 2X/month.

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Jessica

I usually take my own food in.

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jaimee

I'm at home now, but for my husband, I try to pack his lunch at least 4 times a week. I've found I can get creative, make him lunches he really enjoys (aside from just sandwiches), and usually do it for just over $1/day

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jaimee

already like you on fb

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jaimee

tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/crypticmama/status/113641597354258434

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I like you on Facebook.

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I now work at home, hence I always brown-bag it. ;-) But when I worked a square job I almost always packed my lunch, unless I had an appointment to eat out.

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Cheryl Delles

I pack my lunch. It's custom made, the way I like it. I love to cook, so that helps.

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Bart

Depends on the day. I mostly work from home, does eating out of my fridge count as buy or pack? What if it's leftovers from a restaurant meal?

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Elizabeth S

I am fortunate enough to live a mile from home so I eat there!!

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Elizabeth S

I LOVE *like* your facebook page

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We usually buy our lunches from the little deli downstairs (my wife and I work for the same company). If we have leftovers, sometimes we'll grab those on the way out the door, but usually we're not up with enough free-time to put lunches together in the morning.

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Lauren

I pack a lunch. What makes it easy for me is that I purchased an extra bottle of dressing, extra cheese, extra bread, etc. to have in the fridge at work--that way I dont have to spend too much time thinking hard every morning about what I need to pack and bring to work.

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Dana J

I pack my lunch everyday! I also keep a drawer full of snacks and stock the fridge with yummy beverages. That way, I don't feel jealous when the girls go and get Starbucks on their coffee break. I just grab one of my home-made iced coffees (coffee, skim milk and vanilla) and imagine myself as Scrooge McDuck swimming through my piles of gold!

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Lauren

http://twitter.com/#!/ldelangel/status/113651306958303232

My twitter timestamp

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NL

Depends on the whether good lunch food is conveniently located. If it's far from work, lunch is packed. If it's within short walking distance, I might buy.

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Lisa

Most days I'm at home and cook. On the days I'm out, I pack lunch and/or snacks.

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Guest

I pack my lunch at least four out of five days. Tupperware and a cooler to make it even more eco-friendly. One day of the week I am usually running late, so I end up getting subway or going somewhere with a coupon!

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Becca

If I have leftovers from the night before, then I pack. If I don't have any, then I buy.

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Guest

Depending on the situation, but usually pack. We are a gluten free, casein free family. Trying to find good food that has not been cross containment is hard. Besides our food is already expensive. Why try to eat out endanger health? Besides I could pack 5 lunches for 1 meal out!

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Christina

These days I buy my lunch, though if dinner was particularly plentiful and delicious I'll bring that. When I lived with my parents I used to bring all the time.

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mere :)

I pack my husband's lunch almost every morning--otherwise he'll buy it! He does end up buying once a week or every 2 weeks because we need to go grocery shopping for lunch stuff, as my husband refuses to eat leftovers. Enter me: I'm unemployed, so I eat at home everyday--somebody has to eat the leftovers! When I was working and/or in school, I took my lunch 5 days a week, plus snacks-ALWAYS!! What a $$ saver, and so much better for your health :)

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I pack lunch for myself and my daughters almost every day.

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Feesha

I have a mini-fridge in my office so I bring my lunch for the whole week on Monday. I also stock it with fruits and yogurts for healthy (and cheap) snacks!

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DARA GATES

Pack my lunch

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Anne Dunlea

50/50 for me...only when I'm dieting do I bring my lunch every day :(

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kerry

I always pack lunch. Both my wife and I are pretty good cooks and besides, the restaurants near my job suck!

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Christineb

My daughter and I pack our lunches every morning, but we've been considering getting them ready the night before to make our mornings easier, and to encourage my husband to pack his own, too.

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Guest

I pack my lunch and spend my lunch time walking. I have the liberty to eat while I work when I get back. Its a win win! Cheaper, healthier and I avoid senseless chatter at the lunchroom :)

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Samantha

I almost always pack, but I just started a new job right next to a culinary school...the food there is cheap and so tempting!

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Emily L.

My boyfriend and I both work, but I always make extra for dinner to pack for lunch the next day. The only times he ends up eating out for lunch is when he forgets to bring his lunchbox home!

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Emily L.

I liked your FB page! Keep up the good work!

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Kristy OT

This semester, I am buying my lunch. I work at a school, and lunch is only $2! I think the time saved not having to plan those meals, and grocery shop, and cook is worth $10/week.

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Keith

I'm on a low carb diet so I usually have to pack my lunch.

liked on facebook!

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Louise

I almost always pack a lunch, usually just leftovers. Sometimes I do forget, though, so I run down to the corner store for a small frozen meal.

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Louise

Liked y'all on FB!

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Yi S.

Pack... It's healthier and cheaper

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Yi S.

http://twitter.com/#!/proverb1921/status/113674357171167232

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Eric

I eat out. I like getting out of the office. I know it is more expensive and probably less healthy but getting away for 1/2 an hour is worth it most days.

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gt0163c

I almost always pack my lunch. It's cheaper, faster and usually healthier than what I would get if I bought my lunch. There are occasions when I go out, like if I'm meeting a friend for lunch. But, for the most part, it's me and my lunch box each day.

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Angie W

I always pack my lunch... or I should say that most days my husband does while I'm in the shower before work. He's the greatest! We just can't afford to eat out lunch every day, and it's so much more economical to take leftovers from the night before to work with me.

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Angie W

I like you on Facebook as Angie White

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Jennifer A Murphy

I usually pack lunches. Not only is it less expensive, it help me ensure that my kids are getting a balanced meal and we have good allergies to contend with.

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Jennifer A Murphy

I meant "food" allergies, not good allergies.

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GuestCheryl

I pack my lunch / snacks daily. always prepare it the night before, and pack it into my cooler bag the next morning before I leave.

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Jessica

I don't really have a choice but to bring my lunch. We're paid for our 30 minute lunch and can't leave the building. Even if I could there's not many places I'd eat at within driving distance. My husband and I both cook and we do it better than the majority of restaurants in our area, so we eat at home for 20 out of 21 meals during the average week. The remaining 1 meal is usually a quick sandwich we pick up on Saturdays while running errands.

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Michelle

Most days I pack my lunch - I eat much healthier, keep my portions under control and save a lot of money.

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Watekaman

With my crazy schedule, I never know exactly when I can eat lunch, so I bring my food. It may not be fancy, but whenever I get a chance to eat, I know it's there.

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Mike J

Pack! I haven't gone out for lunch in almost 3 months. It's been a great money-saving method for me.

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Alex

i always bring my lunch, because i don't really take a break... and don't like spending the money. I always send my younger one with lunch, but my school age will once or twice eat school lunch. otherwise, he brings it. i've gotten my husband over the last couple years to bring his all the time now. major budget redo! and so much easier really!

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Kelsey

I usually eat a home (I work from home) and probably go out once or twice per week at most. This is usually just to get out of the house!

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Brandon P

I try to pack lunch as many days as I can. I'd cook the day before and maybe eat the left overs for the next 1 or 2 days. It definitely saves money to pack lunch but going out to eat lunch with co-workers has it's benefits as well such as communicating with people who eat out more frequently.

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Razorbacks92

I always bring my lunch, except on special occassions. It just costs too much in money and calories to go out every day.

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doug

bag my lunch. no one else eats the leftovers!

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kelly

I bring my lunch 4 days out of the week...my work provides lunch once a week!