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"Brown-Bagging" It Can Save Lots Of Green

As we call try to cut corners every way we can to save money during these tough economic times, a tried-and-true method is regaining popularity: "brown-bagging" it.

Bringing your lunch to work for a year, rather than buying it from restaurants, could save you about $2,000, according to a recent study by market research company NPD, with the average brown-bagged lunch costing $2 to prepare, as opposed to the average tab of $6 for a lunch from a fast food eatery.

And brown-bagging is up by about one-fifth over the last seven years, reports Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen, with consumers shying away from restaurants at lunchtime more and more.

Apparently, men are the most likely to brown-bag it, and fruit, chips and a sandwich make up the most popular menu.

NPD's Harry Balzer tells Koeppen the most popular brown-bagged lunch sandwich is peanut butter and jelly.

Balzer's been studying the eating habits of Americans for more than 30 years and says more than 90 percent of brown-baggers say they do it to save money.

Koeppen challenged attorney Beth Freedman, who says she spends up to $85 a week or so on lunches, to brown-bag it for a week, and gave her $30 to shop for the groceries to do it. Freedman got some brown-bag staples: turkey, cheese, bread, salad and something to drink.

She started the week enthusiastically, but that enthusiasm waned as the week went on. Still, says Freedman, she liked saving money, and calories, and that her meals were healthier than ones from restaurants.

Koeppen has also been brown-bagging it -- and says her biggest problem with it is -- remembering to prepare her lunches in the morning. She spends about $25 a week for the ingredients.
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