March 4 2011|01.00 AM UTC

Samantha Eckles

Lunch Wars: Bought vs. Brought

Category: Personal Finance, SavingsTags: , ,

Have you ever wondered how much money you could save by not eating out but buying your food at the grocery’s store instead? We did the leg work for you and the results clearly show that making your own lunch is still the best choice if you want to save money and calories. If eating healthy is not important to you, however, fast food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s can save you some time and cash. Here is how the numbers break down.

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Lunch Wars

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Wojo March 4, 2011 at 8:36 am

Wow…is this seriously what people are eating for lunch? I have a feeling that if we took a lot of the fast-food places out of the equation and looked at some of the actual lunches I see people eating, the scale might swing further to “brought.”


Jon March 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I see what you’re doing here, and that’s cool… But you can’t really compare a Taco Bell taco to a homemade one, for example. The taste is just beyond compare.


Trevor March 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm

This doesn’t seem very well researched. You only used one source. And the amount of money it costs per item in a prepared meal (i.e taco meat, cheese, lettuce… etc) is very subjective. I think this misinforms more than it informs.


Thrifty chef March 9, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Whoever put this together apparently shops at Donald Trump’s grocery store… Your store prices must mostly be for the most expensive version available of the food listed… People trying to save $ also look at generic. And if you can’t find a can of broccoli soup for under $1.50 a can, you’ve got way bigger problems!


Adam March 11, 2011 at 5:23 am

Your source for ingredients prices is way too overpriced.


Laurie March 11, 2011 at 8:20 am

Interesting,however I would argue with some of your prices for homemade – it would not be difficult to cut the costs further with some savvy shopping. For instance, the homemade Chicken Burrito allows .53 for the tortilla. I can buy 8″ tortillas (i.e. smaller than burrito size) for .15, so I would just make two smaller “burritos” for .30 worth of tortillas. And the chicken for one burrito is listed with a cost of $1.90! I buy boneless chicken for $1.99/lb (by shopping at multiple stores – at any given time one of them has chicken or hamburger for $1.99). I couldn’t even fit nearly a pound of chicken in a single burrito! Similarly, the shell for the taco should NOT cost .66! I have never paid anything close to $6.60 for a pack of 10 taco shells! And I would not add an entire can of corn to a single burrito. Nor should two tablespoons of cooked ground beef for the taco cost $1.09 unless you are using organic hand-fed Kobe beef. Never mind the recent reports of Taco Bell beef being something less than all-beef (under 40%). And I wouldn’t enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if it contained a quarter of the jar that I bought yesterday for $1.25.

If you argue that the given prices are for organic/healthy/magical ingredients then your comparison is not of apples to apples since the fast food places that you are comparing to are certainly not utilizing top quality (and top dollar) ingredients. If you truly set out to make equivalents of fast food items I guarantee that you will come out cheaper with homemade every time. Now time and convenience – that’s another story.

Pretty graphic, nice idea for an article, but way more info needs to be given than simply “” to make this fair. BTW, I don’t use coupons, just shop the sales and store brands.


Dr. Timothy Lawler March 13, 2011 at 4:49 am

I would agree with you that overall….bringing vice buying is the healthier and better way to go. Any way you slice it, fast food places have 99% processed crap. Not that there isn’t plenty of processed stuff from the grocery store, but you do have a choice. Natural and organic choices are available. Not usually so at fast food joints. Keep up the interesting posts.


MoneyIsTheRoot March 13, 2011 at 11:04 am

That is quite the comparison. Leaving health benefits out of the equation, and just looking at price and quality, I do have to say the soup at Quiznos is far better than the generic canned brand that you must be listing. Same goes with Subway, or even Quiznos subs. I think the ease of buying versus preparing needs to be taken into account. I work many hours a day, the last thing I want to do is shop for all the ingredients to make the sub and then the time to prepare it in order to save $0.50. The saying “time is money” has become so prevalent for a reason.


Dan M March 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Quality is an important factor. Canned soup may be loaded with sodium and preservatives and also taste nasty. A better comparison is homemade soup with good ingredients. Same with frozen pizza versus Pizza Hut.


Alison March 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm

you forgot to add that frozen pizza is nasty i hate it, the only kind i can eat is pizza hut…


Sam March 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm

also with those ingredients you can make more then one taco, or sandwich. chicken nuggets are not over $2 for 5, its like $7 for a bag of like 25. it is way cheaper and healthier to bring your lunch.


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