Why I Never Bring My Lunch To Work

by Broke Grad on April 22, 2009

One of the most commonly covered topics in the personal finance world is bringing your lunch to work. By packing a frugal lunch, you can really save a lot of money over time. For one of my summer jobs in college, I brought my lunch four days out of the week, and it saved me hundreds of dollars over the course of the summer.

Now that I have a job in the real world, things are different. We all know that nothing comes for free, so does bringing your own lunch hurt you in other unexpected ways? Some people argue that your lunch is part of your nonverbal communication, and bringing your own lunch doesn’t exactly project an image of power and success. As absurd as it may sound, does bringing your lunch to work actually hurt your chances of moving up in your career?

My initial thought — that’s crazy. But now that I think about it, all but one of my supervisors at work eat out or buy their lunch everyday. My bosses at the summer job in college also ate out everyday. Practically every boss that I’ve had over the years ate out everyday.

In fact, now that I have a full time job, I never bring my lunch to work anymore. I’m nowhere near a supervisor or boss yet, but I’d like to become one someday. It’ll take a few more years to see if this lunch theory proves to be true, but in the meantime, here are a few reasons why I never bring my lunch to work.

1. Nobody else brings their lunch.
Based on my experience, this one varies greatly depending on the company. I’ve worked at a company where almost half of the employees brought their lunch on a regular basis, but at my current job, the majority of the employees never bring their lunches. Two words — peer pressure.

2. Buying lunch saves time.
Lunch packing zealots will argue that it only takes a few minutes to pack a lunch, and that’s mostly true. What they conveniently leave out is the time that goes into the planning and grocery shopping for the lunches that you make. Of course, you also have to wait when you go out to eat, but while you wait, you can spending time doing something productive, like socializing with your coworkers, supervisors, bosses, etc.

3. Bringing your lunch isolates you.
Even if you’re not one of those people that eat alone at your desk, bringing your lunch still isolates you from your coworkers. Whether it’s making your coworkers wait while you reheat you leftovers or saying “no” to impromptu lunch plans because you already reheated your meatloaf, bringing your lunch can hinder the growth and development of professional relationships that could help you advance your career.

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