(Closed) How do I (politely) turn down going to lunch with coworkers?

posted 5 years ago in Career
Post # 2
142 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

I don’t really have a suggestion on how to say no, but I do have an idea to help the money problem and eating out with your coworkers. My dad and a group of his coworkers used to do a competition every week. One person would have to buy lunch for everyone, but the goal was for it to be really cheap, and taste good. They would go all over the place for lunch. My dad even found a place seeing a combo of hotdogs and soda (I know, not healthy lol) for 50 cents. He fed everyone for less than $5.

You could aalso suggest a weekly potluck. Everyone brings in a different dish. My coworkers and I do this, and it really brings us together, without cutting into our wallets, or taking us away from work

Post # 4
931 posts
Busy bee

enmeek:  This was my exact idea! I think potlucks are great, social and affordable!

I am a really transparent person so I usually find honesty is the best policy. Saying that you love hanging out with them but your wallet and waistline cant handle that many outings but also say you love that they invite you and perhaps sacrifice one or two lunches a month on going out with them.


Post # 6
142 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

Maybe just hold up your lunch box when they say to go, and tell them you already brought yours. Most people should be understanding to not waste an already made meal.

Post # 8
681 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

There usually is one person “leading the charge” for lunch – I’d just be honest with them and (privately) say you are on a tight budget and can’t afford to go out as much right now but would like to be included a few times a month or if they go somewhere cheaper.

Post # 9
1214 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

It sounds like they are just trying to be friendly and include you. I hear you in not wanting to sound poor, but if you can’t afford it, well that’s the best excuse in the world. I don’t think it would be that big of a deal if you started packing your lunch. When they tell you where they are going, you can just say that you need to work on your budget and eating out all the time hasn’t been so good on the scale so you brought your own. I’d prob go out with them once a week or so, because networking can be beneficial for moving up and getting raises. I doubt they would get offended.

Post # 10
889 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

Dizbee:  i can help! in any office i’m in, i’m the weirdo because i tend to be a “clean” eater so i can’t eat out 3 times a week or more with everyone else. and now, not only that, but i just transferred to a new office so everyone is doing what your folks are doing–being super nice and trying to include me.

what i have done that worked for me:

1. be sure to spend time getting to know them outside of lunch, so that it doesn’t feel you’re missing out completely by not going to a restaurant with them. talking to my coworkers on a daily basis about non-work things helped so much in getting to know them!

2. say yes once in a while. if you always say no, they’ll stop asking. so give in every now and then. you don’t have to eat something crazy bad for you or expensive. when i go i usually order a veggie plate or a salad, and i also try to have a snack beforehand so i’m not so hungry that i start ordering with my stomach and not with my brain. lol.

3. if you’re like me, i love cooking/baking; occasionally i will make a batch of cupcakes or cookies or something (i don’t eat them but i love making them, and so having somewhere to take them helps me plus it’s a perk for everyone else!) and bring them to the office. everyone enjoys it, they always stop by to say thanks and that’s another opportunity for me to talk to them.

4. if there’s no breakroom (as is the case in my current office) a lot of times there will be someone who will go pick up for everyone, and then we’ll all eat–me included with my packed lunch–in one of our offices together.

5. try suggesting the restaurant! if money is the issue, and you want to go along this day, then when they say , “hey let’s go to ExpensiveAssRestaurant!” just be like, “We always go there…how about LessExpensiveButStillYummyRestaurant? I hear they have awesome bread/steak/pasta/whatev”

4. finally, learn to say no and mean it. i don’t mean that to sound ugly; i just mean at some point if you really can’t afford to go or don’t want to because of your hours or can’t because the food choices, just say no. “thanks so much for the invite! i actually brought my lunch today. y’all have fun!” i promise, they’ll probably say “oh are you sure?” and once you say yes, but thank you, they’ll go to lunch.

Post # 11
336 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

I usually say I have an errand to take care of during lunch, as a polite way to decline and also save money on lunch because like you I also prefer to bring my own lunch. Works every time!

Post # 12
2347 posts
Buzzing bee

Dizbee:  I used to work in an office and encountered the same problem. I am frugal and hated the idea of losing money while making money- also couldn’t eat as healthy going out all the time.

I solved it by just bringing my lunch every single day. Then if people asked me to go out I’d be like, “ohhh, I would but I brought my lunch and I’ve been looking forward to it all day!” 

I was one of two people in the office (of about 50) who brought lunch so people thought it was really weird. If they pressed me about it I’d just explain that I’m really cheap and I love packing a lunch. This was better than saying, “I think it’s stupid to spend over $10 a day on lunch”, because that would have offended them. By saying that I was the cheap one, it made it like a quirky thing about me instead of a judgment on their spending.

I have heard that you should go out sometimes, but honestly after a couple of months people stopped asking me because they knew I had my lunch already. As far as I could tell no one was offended, they just thought I was an oddball, which I am. 


Post # 13
86 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I had this same issue, and I especially couldn’t handle how unhealthy the lunches were.

I just told them that I was trying to cut back on expenses, and was only going to go out to lunch on Fridays.  They knew to ony ask on Fridays, and everyone knows packing a lunch is way more economical.  No one will fault you for that.

Post # 14
388 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I would just say something like “I’ve been trying to save some money lately so I brought my lunch. I’m all set for today but catch me another time.” And, if you’re able and enjoy going out w them, maybe increase your budget by $5 or $10 so you could go out once every two weeks or so?  I don’t think its awkward to mention money if you do it casually and I thin that’s more understandable to other people than a generic no thanks that could be interpreted as a blowoff bc you don’t like them.

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