hamburger sitting on dollar bills with fork and knife

The $186,000 lunch

April 2, 2019 | TS Prosperity Group

We’ve all been there.

You get out of the routine of putting together a lunch the night before. Other obligations throw off your meal prep time. A hamburger and fries sounds better than the leftovers you have in the break room fridge. Before you know it, you’ve eaten out for lunch more days in a row than you care to admit.

Packing a lunch versus eating out: Many of us are aware that eating out is more expensive than packing a lunch, but are we aware to what extent? I went to the grocery store to find out.

I planned three lunches and came up with the following prices:

Sandwich, chips, apple - $1.81

Pre-made Salad and apple - $2.10

Pork chop, rice and apple - $2.42

Let’s guess high on this estimate and say that on average, lunch costs $2.50. I have posted the fine print on my grocery math at the bottom if you want to dive into it further.

Now that we’ve covered the packed lunch, let’s go to eating out. I’m also going to estimate low on the average lunch price and say we spend $8 when we eat out. In addition, we also have gas and maintenance on our vehicle. Let’s assume it costs 40 cents per mile and that we drive on average three miles from our place of work (six miles round trip).

All in, our lunch when we eat out adds up to $10.40 per time.

If we pack a lunch instead of eating out five days a week and 50 weeks per year we save $1,975 per year. Instead if we invest this money and compound it at 7% for 10 years, we now have over $27,000. Compound that over a 30 year working career, we now have over $186,000.

I want to be clear, I’m not advocating for never eating out, as a lot of good things can come over lunch - such as networking, business being accomplished, etc.

However, I am a big advocate for considering the long-term effects on our wealth before we make short-term decisions. Sandwich, chips, leftover pork chops, salads - they all sound like the most delicious option when considering the long-term effect.

What other things in our day should we consider that can have a similar impact? Frequency of purchasing clothes or vehicles? That after work beer? I would love to hear your feedback. E-mail me at

Estimated lunch Costs:


$ 0.1620

Per 2 slices


$ 0.0748

per slice


$ 0.0732

per slice

Oatnut Bread

$ 0.3200

per 2 slices


$ 0.0381

per 3 chips

Romaine Lettuce

$ 0.0442

per sandwich

Variety Chips

$ 0.2768

per bag


$ 0.8164

per apple


$ 1.8054

Pork chop

$ 1.2400

per 8oz pork chop


$ 0.3660

per portion


$ 0.8164

per apple


$ 2.4224


$ 1.2900

per serving


$ 0.8164

per apple


$ 2.1064



At TS Prosperity Group, we IGNITE PROSPERITY® by helping our clients do more with their money. Whether it’s saving a little extra cash each month or accomplishing a long-term strategy, our goal is to help you transform your financial life. Call and schedule an appointment today, one of our team members would love to help you do more with your money at TS Prosperity Group. TS Prosperity Group is based in Council Bluffs, Iowa, with clients across the midwest. For more information visit or call 844-487-3115. #igniteprosperity




headshot of cody forbush 

Cody Forbush, CFP®
Investment Strategist, AVP

Cody joined TS Prosperity Group in 2017. As an Investment Strategist, Cody sits on the Investment Committee and helps with the research, investment recommendations, and portfolio construction. His role also includes taking the message from the Investment Committee and delivering it to the client in a way that makes sense.  He does also does all of the financial planning for TS Prosperity Group clients.  Cody comes from a rural farming community in Idaho. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Investment Science and Portfolio management from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).  He also completed a MBA degree from UNO with an emphasis in Risk Management. Cody is CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM. His work experience includes assisting high net worth clients plan around their goals, and developing an all-encompassing strategy to help accomplish those goals.