Study: Americans' wallets taking a big hit in lunch bills

Packing meal two days per week can save bundle

According to a September 2013 study by Visa, Americans who eat out for lunch spend nearly $936 a year on average, solely on lunch. This breaks down to about $18 a week, or eating out twice a week at nearly $10 per outing.

Looking to cut back and save that money for something else? By preparing a meal at home or buying frozen those two days (based on an average frozen meal cost of $4, lunches can be prepared fresh at home for even less), peope can save an estimated $10 a week or more, roughly equalling $520 a year.

This is enough to pay for:

Other findings of the Visa Lunch Spending Survey:

  • Men outspend women on a weekly basis by 44 percent.
  • 1 percent of people surveyed spend more than $50 per lunch. That adds up to close to $5,000 a year.
  • 30 percent of respondents said that they never bought lunch out.
  • Respondents who said they make less than $25K per year spent more per meal, at $11.70, than those in any other income bracket.
  • Those earning over $50,000 per year spent an average of $9.60 per meal; a difference of 22 percent.
  • The average Southerner eats out twice per week, spending $10 each time for an average of $20 per week.
  • Westerners mirrored the national average, spending $10 per lunch 1.8 times a week for an average of $18 per week on lunch.
  • Midwesterners spent the least, going out for lunch 1.7 times a week and spending only $8.90 per meal. They averaged $15.13 per week.
  • Northeasterners ate their lunches out the least often, but splurged the most when they did. In the Northeast respondents ate out 1.5 times a week but spent 14 percent more per meal than the national average at $11.40 for a weekly total of $17.10.
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