Businessman eating fast food for lunch in the office
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Heading Back to the Office? Be Prepared for 'Lunchflation'

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Businessman eating fast food for lunch in the office
martin-dm/istockphoto

Midday Woes

There's no such thing as a free lunch, and that's never been as painfully true as it is now. Prices for midday meals like sandwiches and salads have outpaced price increases on most other foods since the start of the pandemic, according to a new "lunchflation" report from digital-payment platform Square. The average cost of lunch jumped 7% in just a year thanks to restaurant-industry woes like inflation, labor shortages, and supply-chain disruptions. Still, many items are hitting wallets even harder, based on 28-day rolling averages in major cities across the U.S.


RelatedRecord Inflation Continues to Bust Consumers' Budgets



Lunch box on working
trexec/istockphoto

6. Salads

Lowest average price since March 1, 2020: $9.44


Average price on March 1, 2022: $10.32


Price increase: 9%


Sweetgreen, a fast-casual salad chain that's particularly popular with office workers, hiked its prices an average of 6% in early 2022 to cover soaring costs, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Burger and French fries in aluminum tray
Lisovskaya/istockphoto

5. Burgers

Lowest average price since March 1, 2020: $10.15


Average price on March 1, 2022: $11.10


Price increase: 9%


No surprise here — meat prices have been going berserk. Ground beef alone is up nearly 14% year over year, according to the latest update of the Consumer Price Index. 

Deli Wrap
Olgaorly/istockphoto

4. Wraps

Lowest average price since March 1, 2020: $9.05


Average price on March 1, 2022: $10.21


Price increase: 13%


Loading up a wrap with fresh produce and lean proteins probably feels like a smart choice ... until you look at the receipt. Lettuce alone is up almost 8% year over year, according to the CPI. 

turkey and cheese sandwich
ed_ya/istockphoto

3. Sandwiches

Lowest average price since March 1, 2020: $9.40


Average price on March 1, 2022: $10.77


Price increase: 15%


Inflation certainly isn't sparing one of our favorite grab-and-go lunches. Even a humble Wawa hoagie now runs $5 instead of closer to $4, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Serving of tacos with shredded roast pork and cheese filling on brown paper in wooden plate
zoranm/istockphoto

2. Tacos

Lowest average price since March 1, 2020: $5.43


Average price on March 1, 2022: $6.48


Price increase: 19%


Will this painful price hike be enough to make us rethink Taco Tuesday? Even Taco Bell, the last refuge of the penny-pinching taco lover, raised prices 10% between mid-2020 and 2021, reports Business Insider. 

Winter Dining Outside, Cup of Tomato Soup and Homemade Croutons
PamelaJoeMcFarlane/istockphoto

1. Soup

Lowest average price since March 1, 2020: $7.41


Average price on March 1, 2022: $9.47


Price increase: 28%


Everything about soup seems so sensible, except this absolutely insane price bump. Consider getting your soup fix at home: The price there is up only 4% year over year, according to the CPI.