Skip nav

Workers fork out more than £1,000 a year on lunch despite credit crunch

A survey of office workers across the UK has revealed that more than a third buy sandwiches in their lunch hour, rather than making their own.

On average workers are spending around £3 on sandwiches every day, with some spending up to £5. Around half of those surveyed say they sometimes buy a drink with their sandwich, adding another one or two pounds to the cost.

The research called ‘Lunch in the Credit Crunch’, on behalf of, also revealed that three times the number of women make their own sandwiches compared to men.

Nigel Berman, founder of, said: “With around 240 working days in the year, lunchtimes are making a huge dent in salaries and some people are spending over £25 a week. But because people are spending a small amount every day, they don’t think about the cost over the year and it can really add up. The research shows that the average spend is around a staggering £1,000 a year.”

Just over 66 per cent of the workers surveyed claimed that they always make their own sandwiches.

Of those who buy sandwiches, 25 per cent said they always recycle the packaging, with 54 per cent sometimes recycling. The remainder, around 20 per cent, never recycle the packaging.

The survey also asked people what would encourage them to make their own. Around 20 per cent said they could be persuaded if there was a large cost saving and a similar number said they would make their own if they had a way of transporting them easily. Interestingly, just over 24 per cent said they would make their own if they had some good ideas for fillings.

Making your own sandwiches can help the planet, especially if you re-use the foil or cling film. There are also solutions like a reusable sandwich wrapper called Wrap n Mat which costs £4.99 from The Wrap n Mat helps commuters transport sandwiches easily and means you don’t have to use foil or plastic. It is washable and the cotton wrapper acts as a placemat.

According to health experts, as well as helping to save hundreds of pounds a year, home-made sandwiches can be better for you.

Kate Arnold, of Kate Arnold Nutrition, explains: “Bought sandwiches can be pricey, and you have no control as to what goes in them. They are often very high in fat and calories so making your own at home can be so much better for your health and your purse.

“The issue I have with bought sandwiches is they are all bread and no filling. By making them at home you can reduce the carbohydrate, choose your own bread and create a high-protein filling for less than half the price of a shop-bought sandwich.

“Choose a good-quality wholemeal bread, or whatever suits you, and really fill it with protein. Leave the mayonnaise and focus on high-protein foods as a salad sandwich will not fill you up.”

Kate has come with ten fillings to inspire people to make their own:

- Hummus and cucumber
- Turkey, avocado, tomato, sprouting seeds
- Avocado, smoked chicken and cranberry sauce
- Mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes
- Mash a can of red salmon in a bowl with freshly chopped dill, 2 tbsps live yoghurt and pepper.
- Generous slices of honey roast ham with mustard.
- Tofu and tahini: (Crumble tofu and mix brown miso, tahini, minced onion, carrot and sunflower seeds)
- Goats cheese and char-grilled pepper with sweet chilli sauce and leaves
- Turkey with low fat mayonnaise and cranberry sauce with crushed walnuts
- For a fresh undressed summer sandwich try: Grated carrot, beansprouts, grated apple, sesame seeds, chopped walnut, chopped baby spinach, low-fat cottage cheese, chopped red onion and chopped parsley.

According to The British Council, British people eat 2.8 billion sandwiches each year but the humble sandwich started life as a snack for England’s super-rich.

In 1762 the first written record of the word ‘sandwich’ appeared in the diary of the English author Edward Gibbons. He remembered wealthy men eating ‘a bit of cold meat’ between pieces of bread.

The snack was named after the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. He was a frequent gambler and was so addicted to gambling that he would often refuse to stop even to eat meals. To avoid having to stop gambling, the Earl of Sandwich asked for a meal consisting of beef between two slices of bread so that he always had one hand free to play cards and gamble and his hands wouldn’t become dirty from the meat.

When other men saw what he was eating, they began to order ‘the same as Sandwich’ - so the sandwich was born. It quickly became popular and widespread as a quick and easy food to eat.

Sandwiches have become so popular in the UK that there is even a British Sandwich Week. It’s being held from 15th to 21st May 2011.

Winner of Yahoo Finds of The Year - Best Shopping Site and Highly Commended at The Real Homes Eco Awards, Nigel's Eco Store is an award-winning online retailer of environmentally friendly products that can help everyone reduce their carbon footprint, conserve resources and save money. The store carries home furnishings, kitchenware, gadgets, office products, kids' toys and energy saving devices.


For interview requests with Nigel Berman contact or telephone us on 01273 726688.

Notes for Editors:

The survey was carried out using Survey Monkey between 10 and 28 March. There were 348 responses to the survey which was promoted using Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and e-mail marketing.

Kate Arnold trained as a Nutritional Therapist at the renowned Institute of Optimum Nutrition in London. She is currently continuing her research with an MSc at Middlesex University. As well as one to one consultations Kate offers workshops on nutrition for groups of four or more in an office or home environment, food shopping trips, and family consultations. Kate has seen thousands of people over the years with ranging health problems, but specialises in digestive disorders, heart and mental health and fatigue disorders.

We have charts and info graphics if you'd like them - please call or email and we can send them.