Breaking the Budget: Coffee and Lunch Comparison of 2 Co-Workers

coffee and lunch comparison 2(1)



I’ve worked professionally for the past 4 years and faithfully bring my own 20 oz travel mug of coffee and a hot lunch to work daily.

I wanted to compare the figures of what I bring to work to a buddy of mine whom I will call Mr. Co-worker.

It’s amazing how fast convenience can add up in the budget and before you know it your budget is shot.

There really is some merit to saving money by making food at home compared to buying it. Sometimes it’s better when people see the final numbers rather than the small numbers.

We tend to look at something as only costing $50 a month for example which is a reasonable expense in the budget but over the course of the year that $50 cell phone bill will now cost you $600 out-of-pocket.

If you find that you know someone you are trying to talk some money sense into or trying to teach them the importance of budgeting this coffee and lunch comparison is a great way to tally up the numbers and give them a bit of a wake up call.


Coffee and Lunch Comparison


First let’s talk about the numbers; 

**Keep in mind I only purchase items knowing the best price or sale price**

  • 1 x 20oz  Tim Horton’s Coffee = $1.80 Cost of Coffee per cup (2012)
  • 200g Jar of Instant Nescafe Coffee – $3.99 on sale
  • 4 litre Bag of Milk- $4.19 @ Shoppers Drug Mart
  • 2kg Bag of Granulated Sugar $1.99 on sale
  • I used this on-line conversion site to get my numbers which in some cases was challenging as we are working with volume against weight.
  • 200g Jar of Instant coffee =36 tablespoons or 36 20oz coffees for me 36 coffee’s= $3.99 jar
  • 2kg of Granulated Sugar =  2000 grams at 12.5 grams per tablespoon, I use 2 tablespoons per coffee so 25 grams per coffee/2000= 80 x 20 oz coffees
  • Milk 4 Litres (3 bags = 1.33 litres per bag) or $1.40 per bag, approx 90 tablespoons- I use 3 tablespoons per 20 oz coffee = 30 x 20 oz coffee’s per 1.33 litres of milk  
  • 80 coffees per 2kg sugar $1.99/2= 40 coffee’s per 1kg =$1.00
  • 30 x 20 oz coffee’s out of 1.33 litres of milk = $1.40 a bag
  • So for about $7.00 I can make 36 x 20 oz coffees with the above or $0.19 per coffee.
  • 36 x 20 oz coffee’s from Tim Horton’s would cost 36 @$1.80= $64.80
  • So Mr. Co-worker would be paying $57.80 more than me for the same amount of coffee.


My Co-workers day


What does my co-worker bring to work each day you ask? 

The Truth Be Told:

  • 4 large 20 oz Tim Horton’s Coffees @$1.80 each= $7.20 a day
  • Mr.Co-worker also spends about $5.00 on eating out for lunch 5 days a week
  • Mr.Co-worker spends about: $12.20 per day x 5 days per week= $61.00 per work week
  • If Mr.Co-worker worked 52 weeks per year that would cost him $3172.00 per year to wet his whistle and fill his stomach at work.


The Comparison


Adjusting the figures to compare to my work week habits the figures would look like this for Mr. Co-worker

  • 1 large 20 oz Tim Horton’s Coffee@ $1.80= $1.80 coffee cost per day or $9.00  a work week
  • Mr. Co-worker also spends about $5.00 on eating out for lunch 5 days a week =$25.00 a week
  • If Mr. Co-worker bought 1 coffee per day and ate $5.00 a day for lunch that would cost him $34.00 per week

Mr. CBB’s day

  • 1 large 20 oz Instant Coffee made at home in a re-usable mug = $0.19 each
  • I make hot lunches for work and aim to spend $10.00 for 5 lunches @ $2.00 a piece.
  • Each day it costs me $ 2.19 or $10.95 per week for the average cost of a cup of coffee and a homemade lunch


Final Verdict- The Numbers


That is a difference of $34.00 – $10.95= $23.05 a week

That is a difference of $1768.00-$569.40=$1198.60 52 weeks per year

What does it cost Mr. Co-worker adjusting to what I bring?

Mr. Co-worker’s cost of  $1768.00 per year is $1198.60 more than I spend working 52 weeks at $569.40.

What is it Really costing Mr. Co-worker?

In reality as mentioned above Mr. Co-worker buys 4, yes that’s 4 20 oz Tim Horton’s coffee’s in the morning. He also eats out at about $5.00 per day 5 days a week.

The Math

  • 4x $1.80=$7.20 x5 days=$36.00 per week
  • 5x $5.00 lunch per day=$25.00 per week
  • Total per week $61.00 or $3172.00 per year – $569.40 what I spend per year =  A lot of freaking money $$$$$
  • = $2602.60 more than I would spend if I worked 52 weeks per year.

In the 4 years Mr. Co-worker and I have worked together the numbers would look like this:

  • Mr. Co-worker spent $12,688
  • Mr. CBB spent $2277.60

Mr. Co-worker has spent $10,410.40 more than me in 4 years working together.

Do I feel good? You’re damn right I do!!! I might not be making the best coffee in the world but I’m also not spending a fortune on something I’m just going to drink away. The only next step in savings would be to convince my work to hire an office coffee service. There’s really no need for me not to make my lunch and coffee at home and have a Tim Horton’s as an occasional treat.

I’m betting you could even go to the coffee bean shop and choose premium coffee blends from many types of coffee beans for cheaper than all the posh coffees you buy all week. If we want to see money grow in our emergency savings or save to pay down debts, OSAP loans or for a down-payment on a home these little conveniences will all take a chunk out of that progress.

If you just have to have your Tim Horton’s, Starbucks, McDonald’s or any other convenience coffee you decide if it’s worth the cost to your Budget!

Wow, I know the numbers are crazy.

Where would you place the  money you saved in your budget if you were Mr. Co-worker and changed your habits?

  • How many coffee’s do you buy each week?
  • Do you brown bag it for lunch?

Share your comments as I always like to hear from my readers.

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  1. I pack lunch every day during the school year. We have a keurig but we grind our own coffee and use refillable cups to save money. A typical lunch for me would be 3 oz. of chicken breast, brussel sprouts and a handful of cherries or whatever fruit is on sale etc….YUM! Whole foods and cheaper! Great blog post!

          1. Mr. CBB, there are reusable filters for Keurig sold in many stores. They cost about $10 and you use your own coffee.

  2. First, thank you for the Lifeguard Tequila Ad. Second, it’s amazing to see how much an innocent habit can affect your financial life. I make my own coffee and bring my lunch about 97% of the time. If I buy coffee it’s always the Starbucks Short or Tall size. I tend to purchase lunch once or twice a month. Luckily I work with educators who as a profession tend to be frugal (maybe because of low pay?)

  3. Whew that’s a lot of math! 🙂 That hurt my brain! Even when I worked full time I brown bagged it to I always had that going for me. And coffee would be a special treat. I think the main point you were trying to make, is that often $5 or $5 there doesn’t feel like a lot, until you look at the big picture in how it all adds up. What I still don’t’ get is 4 coffees? Did I miss something? Why 4? How did he drink them without them getting cold? 🙂

    1. Yes he would drink one on the way to work and microwave the others if they got cold because we can’t just leave work to run out to the coffee shop. Yes with anything we buy over and over if it is just a small amount each time we don’t think of it as much until we see the big picture. That’s why the end of year budget numbers are crucial and why it’s important to stick to the budget all year long. Cheers mate!!

  4. .In my desk/ purse I carry a instant coffee and when I want coffee I just boil water…I am lucky I drink my coffee black…

    1. i bet it make a big difference to your budget. If every time I had a coffee and tossed the money in a jar I’d be a happy Bloke! Thanks for your comment Barb and keep up the good work! Mr.CBB

  5. Love this! There is a lady I work with that I would love to show this too, except she is so clueless she wouldn’t see the point. She eats breakfast and lunch out every day and then spends an additional $5 to $20 on lottery tickets. She has 10 maxed out credit cards, 2 car payments, a mortgage and a second mortgage. Her husband is on disablity payments and she is an hourly retail worker (not making much). She doesn’t understand why she is broke… I said, totally clueless.

    1. Show her! Even if they don’t get it, at least you tried. I never give up on anyone. I hope that one day they will wake up from this debt nightmare and just ‘get it’ . The reason I am doing this is to show people that it can be done. You can pay your bills, put money aside in a saving etc just by budgeting. For some they are so far in debt this won’t be magic but it is pretty much the only way to get out of the mess. Cheers and thanks for posting here at CBB! Mr.CBBx

  6. Couldn?t be weittrn any better. Reading this publish reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will ahead this write-up to him. Pretty confident he will possess a great study. Thanks for sharing!

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