Did you bring a brown bag to work today?
If so, you’re probably doing your budget a big favor: A new Visa survey finds that those of us who tend to purchase our midday meal are racking up an average of $936 per year.
According to the survey, the typical American buys his or her lunch nearly twice a week, and spends about $10 each time. (Only 30% of us never eat lunch out.) But that’s the average—turns out, there are actually some pretty wide disparities across demographics and regions when it comes to lunch in America.
How Lunch—and Spending—Habits Vary
According to the survey, men purchase their lunch a little more frequently than women. But when they go out, men also tally up a much higher receipt at the lunch counter: On average, they outspend women by a whopping 44% on a weekly basis.
And it looks like location can affect your lunch budget as well. In the survey, those living in the South were found to head out for lunch more than any other region, while Northeasterners are most likely to brown bag it—except, when they do go out they like to splurge, spending 14% more per meal than the national average.
And apparently some people like to really treat themselves come noontime: 1% of Americans spend more than $50 per lunch meal. That’s close to $5,000 a year!
One other disconcerting tidbit: Those who earn less than $25,000 actually spend the most—$11.70 per lunch. For comparison, those who earn over $50,000 actually spent 22% less, at $9.60 per meal.
But just because you want to keep your lunch budget in the green doesn’t mean you have to settle for another boring bologna sandwich or sad Tupperware leftovers: For inspiration, check out our eight healthy lunchbox ideas for delicious—and budget-friendly—meals.