Thursday, September 12, 2013

Brown Bag Lunch Economics 101

The classic brown bag lunch as perfected in the '70s by my mother, Edie Menser. Total cost in today's dollars: $1.86, including tax (yes, I pay Idaho a nickel for the privilege of eating a bologna and cheese sandwich.)
How much are you paying for lunch every day? I bought a meal at McDonald's a few weeks ago (I know, I know ...) and with tax it was more than $6. Do the math. If you eat out every day, you're probably paying $30 to $40 a week, or $120 to $160 a month. That's pretty expensive rent for something as small as your stomach.

I got a substitute teaching job (p.e. at Skyline) today, and in honor of my mom, Edie Menser, I decided to pack her classic sack lunch: bologna and cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I opted for bologna and cheese); Wheat Thins; an orange; and a Hershey bar.

These were the lunches Mom packed for day hikers when she and my dad ran the out-camping department at Camp Merrowvista in the1970s. She made them by the hundreds. On the trail in the Ossipee Mountains or the White Mountains, nothing ever tasted so good.

Getting back to the economics, on the basis of the receipt from WinCo I have calculated the costs as follows (I have rounded the figures):

Sandwich: 49 cents
Wheat Thins: 32 cents
Orange: 45 cents
Hershey bar: 49 cents

Total: $1.75, or $1.86 if you add tax. Assuming you work five days a week, your weekly cost,  counting tax, would come to $9.30 or $37.20 a month.

For the sake of variety you can substitute Triscuits for the Wheat Thins, an apple for the orange, and Nestle's Crunch for the Hershey bar. Use your imagination. Buy in bulk and save even more. What a wonderful world! Thanks for teaching me thrift, Mom.