Consumer Trends

How working from home has changed lunch habits

More teleworkers are cooking for themselves or ordering delivery instead of going out.
Remote worker eating lunch
Photograph: Shutterstock

The way many Americans eat lunch has changed.

As lots of office workers began working from home during the pandemic, their usual lunch habits inherently fell to the wayside, to be replaced with more homemade meals and delivery instead of dining out.

That's according to new research from Skynova, a company that provides invoicing software for small businesses. The company recently surveyed more than 1,000 people who work from home either full- or part-time about their midday meal routines.

To be sure, the vast majority of Americans do not work remotely. In November, 11.3% of employed people teleworked, down 0.3 percentage points compared to the previous month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

But those teleworkers tend to make lunch for themselves instead of going out to eat. Nearly half (49%) said they made lunch at home while working remotely, followed by delivery (42%), leftovers (41%) and snacks (38%). Bringing up the rear was dining out, with 30% of people saying that was one of their usual lunch methods.

The results of that shift have been evident in the restaurant industry over the past year and a half. Delivery companies' sales have skyrocketed, while restaurants that tend to be located in urban centers, like Sweetgreen and others, have felt the pinch of fewer lunchtime visits.

When it comes to delivery, Uber Eats and DoorDash were remote workers' favorite choices, with 22% and 19% using those services, respectively. Meanwhile, 12% of respondents said Grubhub was their most-used delivery provider. 

Those workers are paying a major premium to have lunch delivered. The average Uber Eats ticket was $18.20, while DoorDash weighed in at $14.87 and Grubhub at $12.88. Cooking at home costs much less—$6.88—while leftovers set consumers back just $3.95. 

The prices raise questions about how sustainable that rate of delivery will be long-term. Overall, home-prepped lunches can save workers as much as $1,200 a year on average, according to Skynova.

Meanwhile, a portion of remote workers aren't eating lunch at all. More than 12% said they will skip lunch when working from home.

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