Eating Lunch Out For Less Than $2 a Day

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

The challenge: eat lunch out every day for a full work week and spend less than $10 total. Can it be done? Sure. Added bonus: you'll discover you don't need to eat as much as you thought you did.

The following post comes from Aaron Shepherd at

Last month, I floated the possibility that eating out might actually be cheaper than eating in. So this month, I decided to push this a little more and give myself a little challenge.

Cue the trumpet…

The challenge:

Eat out every day for an entire week. Spend only $10.

Why do this:

Inspired by Enemy of Debt’s “No Restaurants in November” challenge and a recent article about why dining out is cheaper than eating in, I decided to do a little investigation of my own.

Now I’m certainly not dissing the don’t-eat-out-make-your-own-lunch crowd here. I believe there are real savings to be had by preparing your own lunch every day for work.

However, there are always two sides to every story. And, with costs of grocery food going up, perhaps it may be worth looking at the dining-out-vs.-eating-in question in another light.

The rules were simple. Grab take-out food – anywhere around my place of work – and spend only $10 for the week. Here are the results…


I decided to start first at one of the more premiere take-out establishments in my area: Wendy’s. Who doesn’t love Wendy’s? There’s an assortment of items from cheap to pricier – and most of the ingredients are pretty good quality. For a Monday, I thought I’d take er easy and not get too carried away…

1 sour cream and chives baked potato = $1.60

Taco Tuesday

To celebrate Taco Tuesday, I hit up an old college friend: Taco Bell. I was craving a seven-layer burrito, but the price has gone up since graduating. I opted for a MexiMelt instead.

1 MexiMelt = $1.92


Ah, Hump Day. Since Wendy’s was so good to me the first go-round, and since they offer such great prices on some pretty filling items, I revisited. I got a small chili with two cracker packages. I have to say, their chili is pretty darn good.

1 bowl of chili = $1.71


OK, now you’re going to think that this is some ad for Wendy’s. Yes, I hit it up again – but only because I had a coupon for a free W burger from a friend. So today wasn’t quite as healthy as the other days. Because my burger was free, I was able to apply my budget to some fries. I went all-out and got the medium fries.

1 W Burger and 1 medium fries = $2.03


Today I had a little extra in the tank, so I went out and got one of my faves: an egg roll from Big Bowl. It was a little toasty on the outside, but it did the trick.

1 egg roll = $2.13

All told, I spent $9.40, so I had a few cents left over for good measure. I tried not to use any coupons so as not to skew the results (well, except for Thursday). You could get more food than I got if you chose to use them.

I think one of the biggest things I’ll take away from this week is that I don’t need to eat as much as I’ve been eating. I’ve gained a few pounds since marrying (nothing against my wife), so trying to eat on $10 or less each week is probably a good goal.

Eating out is a pricey endeavor, though. Most items on the menu are more than $5, so you really have to look at the a la carte menu. Wendy’s in particular has a good assortment of items that are fairly filling and won’t cost an arm/leg.

How do you think I did?

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: What You Should Do — and Not Do — When Meeting a New Dog

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,037 more deals!