Lunch at Work

After working from home for six years, I started a new job in an actual office in a place that is not my house. The most difficult aspect of working outside of the house is not wearing pants or having to get up before noon, but having lunch. I didn’t really eat lunch when I worked from home. I just sort of wandered through the kitchen every hour eating peanut butter from the jar or noshing on some simple quesadillas. Even after three months of office work, I’m not really sure how lunch works.

Ordering Food:  Several establishments deliver to my office, including Jimmy Johns, Domino’s, Bellagio’s Pizza, and three different Chinese places. Honestly, I’d just order Jimmy Johns every day. At $5.50 a sandwich, the cost isn’t that bad. But I know I shouldn’t order out every day.

Making Sandwiches: I’ve tried making sandwiches. I’ve made the old stand-by peanut butter and jelly. I’ve also experimented with lunch meat. I like Jimmy Johns so much, why not buy the ingredients for less and make my own sandwiches? Here are the flaws in the plan: I’m too lazy to make the sandwich the night before. I feel too rushed to make the sandwich before I leave for work. Peanut butter is the most boring food in the world, and adding Nutella just makes lunch dessert. The lunch meat I buy at the store just doesn’t taste as  good as whatever Jimmy Johns uses. The whole endeavor ends with either sadly eating half of the sandwich or spending money on something else on top of the sandwich ingredients.

Yogurt, a Woman’s Perfect Food: Yogurt is so convenient, with so many flavors packaged in convenient little cups. But I hate myself for eating it (suuuuuch a stereotype). And I’m trying to cut down on dairy.

A Bunch of Fruit: I can’t quite explain it, but my lunch of applesauce, bananas, and grapes left me unsatisfied.

Candy from the Front Desk: The receptionist always has a big bowl of candy. The bite-size Snickers bars have peanuts, which means they have protein, so that’s good, right? And some stray fruit juice might have gotten in to the Twizzlers.

The Vending Machine: We have a vending machine with sandwiches and apples in it, as well as a traditional chips-and-candy machine. The prices are obscene, though. One dollar and fifty cents for a little bag of Bugles?!

Pasta: When I’m feeling ambitious, I cook pasta and pack up some sauce. Cold or in the microwave, it’s a filling meal. The trouble is the “feeling ambitious” part.

Falafel: Once I made falafel for dinner and took the leftovers to work and they were incredibly delicious, but I haven’t made falafel since.

Rice Cooker: I took my little rice cooker to work one day for a potluck. Having fresh rice was pretty neat, and I was able to wash it out in the breakroom. I’m thisclose to just keeping it in my office and having rice every day.

Bentos: I’m obsessed with bentos. I want all the accroutement: the little containers and cutters and separators. I love the idea of a balanced, beautiful lunch. The recipes make creating bentos sound so easy! I get up thirty minutes before I need to leave; I could have plenty of time to make rice or little omelettes. Every Sunday, I think, “This is it, this is my first bento week!” It never is.

Hummus and Pita: My default lunch. Tasty, easy to pack, easy to eat. But how much hummus can one person eat? (I hope the answer is a lot.)

I love food. I enjoy cooking. But every Sunday, as I try to figure out lunches, I desperately wish for a pill I could take that would provide my nutirients and leave me feeling full.



By Natasha

History. Hindi cinema. Hugging cats.

5 replies on “Lunch at Work”

I work 12 hour shifts (aka 13-14 hour shifts). I could go to the hospital cafeteria for food, but a.) It’s really not that good and b.) It’s way too expensive for what it is. So yeah, I definitely had to force myself to get into the habit of bringing my food to work.

Right now I’m on a bean salad kick. I mix up black beans and/or chili beans, corn, and onions with taco seasoning, lime, olive oil, and cilantro the night before a long stretch of work. In the mornings before work I dump some of the bean salad in a Tupperware and add feta, mangos, and chicken (also made ahead of time) and voila, I have lunch. It’s super yummy and I can eat it for days (which I do, frequently).

Other frequently brought food items include: oatmeal, boiled eggs, fruit, greek yogurt with fruit (eff stereotypes, it’s delicious and filling), baby carrots, avocados, salads (they’re a pain to make in the morning, but I’m always so thankful I did at lunch time), wraps/sandwiches, bruschetta on whole wheat toast, leftovers (obviously), popcorn, pretzels, graham crackers and nutella…

As for the sandwiches/wraps. I don’t pre-make them in the mornings anymore. I bring the ingredients to work with me and make them there. They taste so much better now. :)

Oh and hummus. There is no such thing as too much hummus.

Is scavenging leftovers not an option? Because that’s what I do… but I work for an office with a small, close staff so hearing, “does anyone want the rest of my fries?” echoing through our office, followed by a short stampede of hungry grad students is a pretty daily occurrence. We also scavenge extra food from events on campus. I sometimes love college life.

I am way too cheap (and too poor) to order out for lunch every day or even every week. Whatever frozen lunches are on sale at Kroger on Saturday are what I have for lunch the following week, usually with a bowl of grapes but sometimes another piece of fruit.

Jif also makes individual-serving sized peanut butter and those make a great afternoon snack with some graham cracker sticks.

I get to to go home for lunch, but I have to pack a snack for myself every day. (I get hungry. And then faint-y.) I eat a lot of hummus. I also eat a lot of leftovers when I do go home for lunch. I highly recommend just always making at least one extra portion of whatever you have for dinner, putting it in tupperware and taking it in to work sometime that week. You’ll always have things to choose from.

I also sometimes make a whole bunch of chicken on Sunday (crock pot, of course) and then mix it with things. Rice, veggies, whatever I have on hand, really. That way you can just throw something in a bowl, throw some chicken on top, and voila. Lunch.

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