TORONTO -- A new survey suggests more than half of Canadians head to a restaurant for lunch at least once a week.
It's a habit that's costing many Canucks some serious dough.
The poll by Visa Canada suggests while eating out might be convenient, the price of that "gourmet" sandwich is not so appealing.
The survey suggests the majority of the 60 per cent of Canadians who eat out once a week spend between $7 and $13 on their meal.
It also suggests the average Canadian who opts to buy a lunch spends about $8.80 on the meal -- and Ontarians appear to eat out the most often, with 20 per cent hitting up restaurants three or more days per week.
Quebecers, on the other hand, seem to make a habit of packing their own lunches more than anyone else, with the survey suggesting half brown bag it every day.
Andrew Rice, a Toronto-based senior financial advisor with Stewart and Kett Financial Advisors Inc., says it's unreasonable to pledge never to eat out, but there are a few tricks to avoid doing so all the time.
His first tip is to add up the cost of eating out over a prolonged period of time.
After tax, eating out three times per week at $8.80 a pop could add up to about $20,000 after 10 years, he said.
"Is it really that much of an inconvenience (to pack lunch)?"
If that's not enough of an inspiration, he suggests bringing some fruit and a drink from home, and grabbing just a simple sandwich while you're at work.
"Some is better than none," he said.
Lazy lunching can be detrimental not only to Canadians' wallets, but also to their health, according to one nutrition expert.
Aviva Allen, a Toronto-based nutritionist, said it's best to pack lunches whenever possible.
She suggested fish or whole wheat pasta with a tomato-based sauce, veggies and protein as options for healthy and relatively painless-to-prepare lunches.
She also suggested doing some prep work, like washing and chopping, on the weekends, when there's more free time and less hunting for one's keys before making a mad dash out the door.
"Making things like soup or stew in larger batches that you can freeze or use for other meals during the week, that can also help," she said.
A stirfry is also a good option, she said, as long as it's light on soy sauce.
-- The Canadian Press