News and Tribune


February 21, 2013

STAWAR: Lunch: You can take it with you


According to Harry Balzer, a food industry analyst at NPD, “There are a number of factors adversely affecting the midday meal business at restaurants, and brown-bagging is one of them.” 

About half of the people who frequent restaurants for lunch say that they now do it less often due to the expense. Besides the cost savings (about an 80 percent average reduction in expense), taking your lunch to work can give you more variety, healthier choices and save you time. 

Also, don’t forget to add in the savings for gasoline each week.

According to the NPD Group’s 2009 eating survey, people spend more time eating and drinking at lunch than any other meal. At the same time, lunch is the most frequently skipped meal (13 percent of the time compared to 10 percent for breakfast, and only 4 percent for supper). 

Men are responsible for the most lunch meals prepared at home and about 40 percent of these meals include a sandwich, although this trend has been dropping in recent years. Classics like bologna, ham and peanut butter and jelly are still the most popular sandwiches in brown-bag lunches. Turkey also is growing in popularity, but seems to fluctuate a bit with its price. For women, fruit is now more popular than sandwiches for their lunches made at home. 

For almost 40 years, my father took a black metal lunchbox and Thermos to work each day. He left so early for work that I never actually saw what he took to eat at work. Both of his parents were from Eastern Europe and he grew up during the Depression, so he was used to eating things like blood sausage, headcheese and pigs feet.

I always assumed that his lunch box contained something equally unspeakable. My father was an electrician for a steel mill and each night when he came from work his lunchbox was empty, except for a metal can containing a single roll of electrical tape. He used the metal cans to store things like screws and nails, but I was never sure what he did with all that tape. I think he considered it a tip from the company for his good work.

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