Why It’s Worth Eating Out for Lunch and Why It’s Not

Today I broke with routine and ate lunch at a restaurant. Well, actually at one of those American soup and sandwich stores which are popping up around here in a likely failed attempt to beat Tim Horton’s at the quick and convenient game. While walking afterwards, I noted spring migration is likely to be summer migration this year. Aside from a few Cardinals, Goldfinches, Robins, Chickadees, and Downy’s, all of whom had struggled through this icy, snowy winter alongside us with nary a moment in the Sunshine states, I was alone with my thoughts. Being a cheapskate conscientious spender, I contemplated why eating out for lunch had been worth it, and why it had not.


A Quick Review of the Cost of Lunch

$8.68 one sandwich (which turned out to be two sandwiches when served),
one lengthwise quarter of a dill pickle, and
one perfect two-bite apple (actually I like this size but I think our guinea pigs would have been unimpressed)

A Quick Review of the Cost of Supper

3.99 pound of ground turkey
0.50 2-pound bag of large carrots at 1.99, at least 8, used 2, so say 50 cents
0.25 1 from a huge bag of yellow cooking onions, I have no idea how many per bag so I’m just randomly guessing a cost
0.75 head of celery at 2.99, at least 12 stalks, used 3
0.50 bay leaves, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme
1.98 two large cans of tomatoes with herbs and spices
0.50 long grain rice
0.75 flour
0.15 baking powder
0.02 salt
1.00 milk
0.40 shortening
$10.79

I’ve overestimated some of the costs to keep it simple.

Yep, that’s turkey soup and biscuits and/or dumplings depending on the child. Yes, it’s not very glamorous cooking. My children will eat some pretty amazing things happily but there’s not much wrong with giving them what they want once in a while.

Besides there are leftover chocolate cupcakes (yes, also homemade from scratch) for dessert. So everyone is happy.

That $10.79 is a little misleading because there will also be 2-3 lunches worth of leftovers as well as supper for all of us.

Why Eating Lunch Out Isn’t Worth It

It probably doesn’t take an advanced degree in Mathematics to see why I think it’s not worth it from a $$ and ¢¢ point of view to eat out.

Why Eating Lunch Out Is Worth It

I met with 3 of my peers for lunch. None of us work together or in the same field. Our common ground is our children, some of whom have been in each other’s classes since kindergarten.

We talked about

  • High schools and who was going where and why and perhaps more importantly not going where and why
  • Graduations
  • Field trips
  • Sleep-away camps
  • Good and bad teachers and administrative staff
  • Summer jobs
  • Possible career choices
  • Peer and romantic relationships and the hazards thereof
  • Sweet 16 Parties, from pizza out with a best friend to extravaganzas that make weddings look tame
  • Caring for parents who are frail and in failing health when families are divided and cultures collide

Was that worth $8.68?
Every penny.

Spending Mindfully Is Worth It

There’s nothing wrong with spending money. Choosing where to spend it to bring you the most satisfaction at an affordable cost is the trick.


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Are there expenses in your life that may seem frivolous to others but which are extremely rewarding to you? Does sharing lunch with friends make an intolerable job bearable for just one more day? Please share your experiences with a comment.

2 thoughts on “Why It’s Worth Eating Out for Lunch and Why It’s Not

  1. I’m cut from the same cloth. Was out last evening with a few former work colleagues catching up on life and interestingly enough a few business opportunities. A beer and club which was at least twice what I really needed, cost just shy of $30 with tip. Add the $15 return trip by car from my home and the 4hrs the total event cost of my family time, to be more complete. Friends and family are priorities in my life, and as such I consider the money spent towards what I value in my life. Do I do this every day? – NOPE, but once a quarter or so… as it’s cheap, and very rewarding.

    As to other frivolous things, I like Halloween, and as such have invested $$$ in my costumes ( made my own, but with material and stuff it still came to like $200), interchangeable masks ($50-150/ea.) and props ( axes, chains, and I bought a $400 replica sword a couple of years ago) over the years. I get maybe 20-25 kids that come to the door each year, but scaring the pants off them and in many cases the parents too, is worth it for me. All year long kids and adults alike in my neighbourhood talk about what I did from year to year and what I might be planning for future years. To each their own, we all have our vices, and it is better to have vices that are at least aligned to our values – Cheers.

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