Wednesday, March 21, 2012


How to Bring Your Lunch to Work: A Guide

This series is brought to you by TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

Bringing your lunch to work sounds so simple, but it's actually almost impossible. Or, it was, until I cracked it.

Step 1: This is the easy part. Pick something simple that you'll eat for lunch every single day, and buy supplies to make that thing. Yes, marinated vegetables and goat cheese on gently toasted focaccia with a side of quinoa salad does sound delightful, but that's not what you will be eating. Instead, try this: Peanut butter. Loaf of bread. Apples.

Step 2: When home, unload apples, bread, and peanut butter and leave in conspicuous area, perhaps on the table, next to your stack of unpaid bills.

Step 3: Monday morning. As you're running out the door, remember: you have lunch things! Ignore the feeling that it's too much work to go back into the kitchen. Go back to the kitchen. Throw bread, peanut butter, and apples into your bag. Notice the bills. Leave the bills. Turn to go, take three steps, remember a knife. Get the knife. Okay, get the bills. Get out.

Step 4: At the office, throw down your bag, remember apples at the bottom of it, curse. Put lunch supplies in a neat stack on your desk. Put bills next to pile of lunch supplies, as visual reminder of necessity of lunch supplies. Ignore for rest of morning.

Step 5: Do your work. ("Do your work.")

Step 6: Avoid all thoughts of food. That salad at the deli next door is not in your future. Nor is a burrito from Chipotle or the sando from Starbucks. If something bad happens at work — like, you don't feel like working — do not use this as an excuse to treat yourself to lunch. You are a poor person and it's time to start acting like one. No soup and salad for you. If you find yourself staring despondently at a bruised apple and smooshed bread, cut it out. Look at those bills. You earned this.

Step 6: Okay, since you brought your lunch today and under no circumstances will be purchasing lunch items, you can probably take a coffee break and buy a baked good. BUT THAT'S IT.

Step 7: Ignore the coffee shop's sandwich offerings. Ignore the coffee shop's soup of the day. Get your coffee, get your baked good, and leave.

Step 8: This is the hard part. As your coworkers start to leave for lunch, block them out. Just say no to the taco cart, the Thai place, the fast food joint, the secret boozy lunch spot. Beware: they will hem and haw and groan at you for being so lame and not coming with them. They will say: only losers bring their lunches to work. They will have a point. But disregard it.

Step 8a: "But it's somebody's birthday and they're all going to Olive Garden for soup and salad and—" Oh that sounds super fun, but no.

Step 8b: "But I haven't eaten any vegetables in a week and so I should probably go eat some greens—" The apple will do you just fine. No.

Step 8c: "But my work crush asked me if I want to go get a slice and he's never done that before and I'm wearing my favorite outfit and—" This is obviously a very special circumstance, I mean, what if this is the first day of the rest of your life together? Except, no. You can't. You brought lunch today. If he really loved you, he'd stay and eat peanut butter bread with you.

Step 8d: "But I'm having the worst day of my whole life ever. I hate the office, I hate my hair, I hate my life, all my bills are overdue, and the only thing that will make me feel better is sesame noodles from the deli across the street … or lying down in the street. The lunch things will not spoil! I'll just start tomorrow!—" This does sound like a real tough time, actually! But you know what's actually going to help your situation? Eating that delicious lunch you brought. From home.

Step 8e: "But I think I developed a peanut allergy in the last four hours and I don't want to risk it—" Wrap a slice of bread around an apple. Delicious.

Step 9: If resisting peer pressure is hard for you, go at it a different way. Only accept jobs at places where you hate all of your coworkers. Alternatively, get them all to hate you. Working somewhere that won't let you leave for lunch is also a good option, or a place with such elaborate security theater or terrible parking that leaving the office is even more painful than bringing your own food into it. As a last resort, Google "food poisoning" and every lunch spot near you. Read the stories. They're all true.

Step 10: If you made it through the day without buying lunch, invite coworkers out for drinks to celebrate. Your treat.

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317 Comments / Post A Comment


Does the above also apply to broke-ass students who only go grocery shopping once a month? But the pizza place is RIGHT THERE.


I did the math on bringing my own lunch. Ham, cheese, quality bread, some fancy-ass spread because that makes it exciting enough for me to not mind not going out, all from Whole Foods = $5-6 / day. Going out = ~8. Economically, at least for me, that's negligible. (If I really wanted to save money, I would stop getting iced coffee twice a day.)

I still do it 2-3 times a week, but I'm just saying, do the math.


@Alexander Your financial grass is much greener.

Bridget Smith@twitter

@Alexander That's true. Which is why I make a pound of pasta on Sunday nights: box of pasta, jar of pesto (the Classico pesto is pretty great and just the right size, and come on, when you're feeding yourself on a budget & using it specifically for leftovers, don't be a snob), enough tomatoes for my taste = $8 total, and feeds me for 5 meals. Plus, then I don't have to make my lunch every day: it's already in a little Tupperware that I can just grab!

Leon Tchotchke

@Alexander I think "quality" and "fancy-ass" maybe fit into that math somewhere. If you can accept eating the same relatively unglamorous thing for lunch for 2-3 weeks straight, you can buy stuff in larger quantities and pay like 10% of what you'd otherwise be spending. Think like giant-ass blocks of pre-sliced vague white "cheese product," a big ol' stack of baloney, and the wheat bread that's next to the $0.75 bag of hot dog rolls. Not EVERY dirt cheap food item will give you diabetes and gout from regular consumption (only most of them).


@Leon Tchotchke Yes and here's the other thing. What you're buying from a restaurant is NOT Whole Foods quality for $8, I guarantee it, unless you live in rural Kansas or something. If you apply the same food standard to both, the financials don't shake out the same way.


@all, good points. Bridget, I am slightly in awe of people like you. (No, seriously!) I can barely muster the energy to cook dinner for myself occasionally; thinking ahead to prepare lunches is utterly beyond me even if it's easy.

Leon, yeah...it kinda has to be fancy-ass or I won't be excited about eating it and therefore I won't eat it. I've been down that road. I failed.

Wonder: good point! I can spend $6.50 for lunch at the local Chinese place, but Lord knows what that food is.


@Alexander I had the same reaction (and will cop to the same degree of economic privilege) but it's still worth it just to control the ingredients of what you eat more of the time? I eat out plenty, high and low, and you just know they're pouring huge tubs of butter and/or tons of dodgy technologies into everything. Big WF sack with some kind of bread with a few days' lifespan, block of fancy cheese, fruit of choice, bag of baby carrots, tub of hummus = basically the pb plan in the post with upgrades. You may not save much money doing that but you're totally way ahead of the game vs the hole-in-the-wall Chinese/Boar's Head stuffedwich/Chipotle giant burrito.

(Do I do this? Not lately, no. There's a pretty health-oriented, somewhat pricey lunch place right in my building now and it's hard to motivate.)

I'm not a big believer in the latte factor approach to personal finance, I think the answer is to make more money, but there's lots more reasons to bring lunch sometimes than just putting a couple of dollars a day by.


@hedgehog Ah ha, "the answer is to make more money." Why didn't I think of this>

Good point though. I always forget to think about that whole "health" thing.


Making more money hasn't worked for me so far. When my income increases, my expenses magically follow suit.


@Alexander ugh, I didn't mean that to sound so 1%. What I mean is, if you want to change your situation for the better (and you may be just fine with your situation -- not everybody has to maximize -- I'm not saying get rid of your totally awesome but low-paying job it is revolting) my theory is that it's better to think more about macro than micro changes. and, to a lesser extent, more about income than outgo.

yeah, I have a lot of feelings about personal finance I guess.

but I feel like the latte factor theory is totally the opiate of the lower middle class. like it's propaganda to keep people happy with smaller goals than they deserve to be able to pursue.

Kirsten Hey@facebook

@Alexander So you're saving $2 a day, which is $10 a week, which is $40-$50 a month, which is $480 a year, less sick time and holiday time. So $400 a year. You could probably buy something quite nice with $400.

I almost never buy my lunch, but I work in a Taggart-like industrial wasteland where the options are the chippy or the freezer shop or the pub where you're likely to get knifed. In the winter I make a couple of different types of soup at the weekend and freeze them in portions and take those in to microwave at work with hummus and oatcakes, or a cheese sandwich. In the warmer months I make Greek salad, or other tasty salads. One of my favourite lunches is a couple of veggie sausages or falafel, lots of rocket, some baba ganoush with oatcakes and some cold roasted tomatoes. Do the cooking at the weekend or while I'm cooking dinner, keep it in the fridge.


@hedgehog Ha...I just thought you were being funny.

Buuuut, I think you have a really interesting point as far as macro vs. micro. You're saying, I think, that we fixate on whether we can afford that latte when it turns out that - in the greater scheme of things - that sort of everyday concern isn't all that important? Invest in a higher-paying job if you want it (via training or education), or look at your overall finance picture, not just the lunch out? There's value in that.

And that's kinda why I try to avoid calculations like the one you pointed out, @Kirsten. I get involved in that too sometimes, but you can do that sort of math with nearly anything. Your smartphone bill, your habit of ordering an appetizer, or a decent beer instead of a Bud, your desire to have matching pillows...all of these things add up if you take the long view, and if you do it for everything you're going to end up living in a van by the river. So one makes one's priorities, I guess? Lunch is not a priority for me, so I bring it a few times a week and save a few bucks. That stupid iced coffee is a priority, because I'm a junkie, so I throw my money at it.

@Neenerneener, Have y'all seen that study that claims your happiness stops increasing if your salary goes over $60,000 a year? The idea is, that's the number at which you're comfortable; after that, "aspirations increase with income." It's the Easterlin paradox, and it's controversial.

It makes sense to me, as I make only a little more than that and feel I have all the money I need.


@Alexander Exactly. Instead of scrutinizing the sub $2 differences between coffee from the hipster coffee shop vs the street kiosk vs your home coffeemaker with good coffee vs adequate coffee vs shitty coffee, it's better to direct all those energies toward a raise, promotion, better job, hobby you love that you can moonlight off, move, lower housing payment, different car, career track realignment, etc etc etc. Those are all big things that make a big difference and keep on making a big difference. The 75-cent savings here and there are not going to change your life so they aren't worth the mental energy they take IMO. I mean seriously, people are always like "but you could save $200 a year doing it this way!" and I'm all like, look, it's worth a couple hundred a year extra in quality of life to me to have copious delicious hot coffee made fresh by somebody else in proximity to my desk vs taking the trouble of preparing and bringing a thermos.

(If you're really in a bad way, obviously $200 weighs more. I'm talking from relative privilege again. But then you take the damn $200 and put it into MACRO LIFE CHANGES okay.)

The only kind of micro change I like is tweaking automatic savings (401k or regular savings autopay). Because once you've set it you can forget it, it doesn't sap your freaking daily energies. I have VERY LIMITED daily energies.


@hedgehog I gotta tell you, I thought about this just now while walking to blow $2 on an iced coffee. We were sortof on the same page anyway, but the way you phrase a couple of things - "latte factor theory is totally the opiate of the lower middle class," for example - is really well-done. It's tweaked my outlook on this stuff a bit. I learned something today!

You speak wisdom, hedgehog.

Summer Somewhere

@Kirsten Hey@facebook A savings of $40-50 a month could become a video game! A nice blouse! After two months it becomes a decent and adorable pair of shoes! That is my motivation for bringing lunch. Plus I work at a hospital, so anything I buy here is literally hospital food. ANYTHING I bring is better and cheaper than hospital food.


@hedgehog Also echoing the "well-put" sentiment, and love the "opiate of the lower middle class" part. For me, though, the part that really drove that point home was something along the lines of: "Moving from a $1600/mo apartment to a $1500/mo apartment is more savings than giving up a $3 latte-a-day habit." Especially in DC, where one can easily be comparing $2000/mo to $2100/mo apartments, it can be tempting to shrug off that difference, even while chiding one's boyfriend about the decision to buy the $2/box dried pasta versus the $1/box store brand.


@Bridget - I do this too! I make a week's worth of dinner on Monday night (don't do it on Sunday because I work in the country, go home to my boyfriend in the city on weekends and don't want to drive back until I absolutely have to, on Sunday night at approximately 11pm), and then eat that for lunch and dinner for most of the week. It's great - just grab a tupperware container on your way out the door and you're sorted


@Bridget Smith@twitter that is EXACTLY what my housemate made for lunch this week! I, however went between bringing ham/cheese/tomato turkish bread toasted sandwiches and buying my lunch. Not as diligent.


@lucida console I think the thing for me is working out when that coffee/meal out is worth my money, and when it's easier but not better. For instance, I have a mini plunger mug and good coffee at work. Frankly, the coffee from that is better than from the place accross the road. If what I want is caffeine, I have that. When what I want is to feel pampered and not-poor, I buy a coffee. In general, I'd rather be able to eat out a few times a week if I feel like it, than buy a new computer game. That's my own line. Actually, I'd like to be able to do both, but there are other things I'd rather buy than do both. I'd rather have a full spectrum light globe for my living room so winter doesn't make me sad, than eat out every day. Another person would have a different line.

Lunches and coffee are things that I personally am ok economising on - most of the time I do prefer my home cooked meals anyway. But I agree about the latte effect. And, I have learnt that if I don't let myself have a treat every now and then, I blow out my budget because I FEEL poor. And then I am, and I didn't even enjoy my lunch.


@Leon Tchotchke Ugh, sorry, but I won't eat anything that could be described as "vaguely" followed by the name of a real food item. I still manage to crush my food budget to a tiny figure and I never go out to eat -- but I have to draw a line somewhere. Whole Foods will suck your wallet dry, but these days even regular supermarkets often have a bulk section where you can buy good stuff in human quantities for reasonably cheap, and a "fancy spread" isn't that hard to make with a perfectly doable investment of time. There's a lot of middle ground between buying everything at WF and buying something that's not even technically food.


@Alexander Yeah, as a low-paid barista, I am all for people continuing to buy their overpriced coffees. It pays for my [everything].

But seriously, even making basically nothing an hour, I'd rather occasionally eat out if my other option is really unappetizing. It might not be the best financial option, but I'll feel way better about the day if I'm not hungry and craving tasty things while eying my sad looking fridge.


just amazing this guide:X@n


Man, that's aiming pretty low.

Mike Dang

I am the sort of person who likes to bring lunch and will make sandwiches with focaccia and grilled vegetables! With a side of arugula and candied pecans!

They will say: only losers bring their lunches to work. They will have a point.

But when I bring my lunch, I don't feel like a loser. I feel like a winner! ... Oh, hey, where did all my friends go? Guys?


@Mike Dang That is adorable.


@Mike Dang Me too. Stuff I have brought recently: rabbit ragu, lamb shanks, pasta with smoked mussels. My coworkers make fun of me, but lovingly.


@Mike Dang

Me too. Whatever I bring to work is usually infinitely more exciting than what I would buy (and I live in NYC! Exception: City Bakery cookies). I usually just make 2x whatever I make for dinner and bring it into work... not a huge lunch eater, so that usually lasts another two lunches, amortizing to about eh $4 a day for pork chop, brussels sprouts, brown rice. Healthy and tasty!


@Mike Dang I have red lentil and bell pepper curry leftovers for lunch today! I can't do it every day, but leftovers from dinner is so easy when it's already there. (Especially when I cook something like curry that my boyfriend won't eat...)


@Mike Dang Marry me Mike Dang!


@martini HAHA - as soon as I started reading the threads on this one, I was like "I KNOW SOMEBODY WHO PACKS VEEEERY FANCY LUNCHES" but it looks like you beat me to the punch.

Another option I have recently learned: work in restaurant marketing and just eat free food all day, every day. holler.


@emilylouise Please make sure my obituary says "she packed veeeeery fancy lunches," ok?!


@Mike Dang If you keep up the lunch-bringing, you may well find, as a middle-aged person, that you are also healthier and thinner than many of your lunch-buying colleauges...I got into the habit during my first, extremely low-paying job, and it has served me well (especially since I still have a low-paying job).


@martini My co-workers express envy when I bring stuff like that.


I just love how everybody's responses to Mike Dang make me think people are saying "Dang" before whatever the comment is.

Dang, I wish I were a winner who brings lunch to work.


Another option for Step 9: Work at a university on a somewhat isolated campus, where lunch options are generally overpriced or gross or both. Resist the temptation to ride your bike to the Whole Foods and get the salad bar, even though it is like $6 for a really really good salad. You need to spend your lunch hour working on your stats homework.


@julia Worst lunch options EVER, that university.


@julia Yes! This happened to me! University, slightly isolated campus. I didn't know what to do. And then, I found Trader Joe's. Frozen meals from Trader Joe's are the best lunch. Bring fruit, or salad or a yogurt, and bam. Lunch.


@bean1 Yes, Trader Joe's! I often will buy one thing of Butter Chicken with Butternut Squash and Spinach to have for lunch during the week, just for a bit of variety. And it's still less than $4!


@julia This is me, only insert Treasure Island for Whole Foods and finding the end of the internet for stats hw.



Dear Trader Joe's,

When are you coming to Colorado? Please? Pretty Please? Pretty Pretty Please?

Thank you,


@julia I work at an urban university (loosely), and we have this conversation like twice a week! First, you can't leave or you'll lose your parking space that wasn't even good to begin with.
Second, the on-campus selections are fried, fried, or when you try to order a healthy item, they F*** it up. Srsly.
The workers hate their jobs b/c they deal with college kids all day who leave trash everywhere.
I just ate the jankiest meal at my desk - 1/3 cup leftover rice, 1 pouch tuna fish, sliced raw pepper. All mixed together - total lunch cost - $2.00
Also, I would have rather had Wendy's chili for $1. + LOTS OF FREE CRACKERS


@sox I feel your pain! I lived in Minnesota for 4 years sans Trader Joe's and then in NYC where there was 1 crazily, stupidly crowded TJ's in Union Square (although there are more now? or ones I didn't know about?). You had to team-shop so one person could get in line as soon as you got there while the other person got the groceries.


@@serenityfound My husband and I do this (at the Union Sq TJs)! I was explaining our system to my suburb-dwelling co-worker and she was horrified.


@julia So true. My university has a Panda Express and a Quiznos. Not great options at all. This is what I get from moving from NY to the Midwest.


@oatmealshrapnel Tell me about it. My Midwestern university has generally terrible food options And I can't take the time to leave campus. I found one thing that I like to eat and I eat it every day!


@julia okay, so this is really weird. my name is Julia and i'm a student and I have stats right after lunch. Was doing hwk today during. ARE YOU ME.
Also, the dining hall food os gross even to my undiscerning tastes, so that's good news for my diet! hahaha. ....my life is sad.


@julia Trader Joe's IS COMING TO COLORADO IN 2013 http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19964370

Edit for linkage fail. Fixed?/noob


@Cindermoth Seriously?? I am SO excited!


I bring my lunch and breakfast most days and I always make a point to bring something I will want to eat. This morning though, I decided to eat my arugula, rosemary ham, and Grana Padano salad for breakfast so I could get chirashi for lunch. It's one of those days when I just need raw fish.


@ginalouise And I checked my bank account beforehand to make sure I could afford it!


@ginalouise I ate my tempura chicken for breakfast this morning so that I could get a sub from Jimmy Johns. Lunch - it's what's for Breakfast!


@TheCheesemanCometh who or what is Jimmy Johns???


@ginalouise ...is Jimmy Johns not a national chain? Are there people that have never eaten Jimmy Johns? What is this world?


@SBGBlogs Never heard of it either.


@SBGBlogs I didn't know what Jimmy Johns was until I moved to Minnesota for college. Honestly...I still don't quite get what the big deal is. *ducks*


@ginalouise Jimmy Johns is a sub place, but better than any other one. They have fewer options than other places: one kind of cheese - provolone - and only white or wheat bread, but the bread is good and they have delicious avocado spread. And they're fast, a few weeks ago I called for a sandwich from the Jimmy John's three blocks away and I had it exactly six minutes later.
Also I think they have a rule where all their delivery boys have to be cute.


@@serenityfound Same here. People love that place and it makes me feel like a total haughty asshole but I just... don't. They make OK sandwiches, definitely a step up from Subway. But that's about it.


@joeks But Subway has pepper jack cheese and banana peppers!


@@serenityfound Trust me, Jimmy Johns is better.


@florabora The cute, stoned punky boys is the best part!
Well, them and the Vito with hot peppers.


@NeverOddOrEven I have eaten there on multiple occasions and it was pretty good. Just nothing so spectacular that I understood why my Minnesotan friends were crazy obsessed with it. *shrug*


If you order a veggie sandwich, you can order free double veggies, then also buy a 50 cent loaf of day-old bread, and have basically two sandwiches.
(I used to work there! I know secrets.)
(Delivery people definitely do not have to look good, but hotties get all the tips.)

Koko Goldstein

@TheCheesemanCometh I live off of Jimmy Johns. I have a JJ thought bubble and then they just appear. It's kind of sad. But delicious.


Oh man, this should be what I do. But it never is. Fancy cheese is what makes life worth living. And going out for lunch is how I get outside during the day.

Once when I went home for a visit, my grandmother told me about a woman she saw on one of the HGTV programs who was able to save and buy a house by eating peanut butter sandwiches for a year (or several years?). I told her "I hope you know I will never be that person."@redonion I totally understand what you mean, because I am more or less tied to my desk all day and I eat lunch at my desk, too. This all led me to decide that it's not worth it to me to spend the money every day for a "nice lunch" if I'm just going to be splashing it all over my computer screen. So I save my nice meals for the weekends. But a peanut butter sandwich every day is really bleak.


@redonion I totally understand what you mean, because I am more or less tied to my desk all day and I eat lunch at my desk, too. This all led me to decide that it's not worth it to me to spend the money every day for a "nice lunch" if I'm just going to be splashing it all over my computer screen. So I save my nice meals for the weekends. But a peanut butter sandwich every day is really bleak.


@redonion @ginalouise
Very interesting, are you two the same person, responding to your own comments?
(I don't really think so, I just don't know that comment got merged)


*how that comment got merged


@NeenerNeener What the! Weird comment merging.


@NeenerNeener @ginalouise My fault! I tried to edit an egregious typo and then just made it worse somehow. That's usually what happens.


@redonion ohhhh I thought it was wizards. dang.


Is it still bleak if you put a random ingredient in it? Like m&m's or bosc pears or peanuts and honey (daaaad)?


@ginalouise Yeah, I was going to say, "I always end up eating and my desk, and it is such a drag to never get away from my desk," but it is valuable Hairpin time, so you know, it's also my choice.


@Inkcrafter Less bleak for sure. Especially if you vary the special ingredient.



Only I totes give in to the "just go buy it, you deserve it!" option. I'm bad at being an adult.


@OhShesArtsy You and me both, friend.


Because of this article, I went out on my lunch break and bought a jar of peanut butter and some whole wheat crackers (bc the weird grochery I went to didn't have bread??).

It now sits with all the wee cans of tuna and rice crackers I already had for "eating lunch in the office". We will see what happens.


@OhShesArtsy I read this and then I went out and I bought a small soup to go with the food I already had that was supposed to be a complete meal. Oh well. More leftovers to ignore tomorrow.

Tragically Ludicrous

Also, if your office is like my old office, where the options were a Subway or a teriyaki place that always made me feel terrible after eating it, not buying lunch is easy! Especially if you time your lunch so that you're having it with the nice middle-aged Cambodian woman who always insisted you try what she brought.


Are there really people who buy their lunch every single day? How do they have any money left at all?


@MilesofMountains My thoughts exactly! I bring my lunch everyday. I also have no work friends but, hey, at least I have money!


@QuiteAimable Agreed to both. I make dinner at night, and bring leftovers for lunch. Much cheaper than buying every day. I don't understand why you would want to buy every day anyway. I like what I make at home.


@MilesofMountains By commuting over an hour both ways every day and being reliant on public transportation schedules and being too darn tired/rushed in the morning to actually make something. It's a laziness tax. Also, university cafeterias occasionally have decent cheap salad bars!


@MilesofMountains When I did it, I didn't have a car or any of the costs associated with it. I was also a student and somewhat dumb with my money. Nowadays I look back and go "WHY. WHYYYY."


@TheBourneApproximation I feel you. That's exactly my commute, plus biking about 3.5 miles between my house and where I catch the train. I usually bring in a bag at the begining of the week with bagels & cream cheese, and a few snacks, and then dinner left-overs or a sandwich each day for lunch. Granted, once we hit triple digit temps (oh, in about a month or so) I'll have to throw in an ice pack to keep from poisoning myself, but it's doable.

I've been lurking on Unfuck Your Habitat, and the nightly reminders to Unfuck the next day (including making lunch) have really helped make me actually do it. It also helps that my daughter is now old enough that she makes her own lunch, so I only have to worry about the on.


@MilesofMountains Most people at my work go out every. single. day. And it is not like we work around super cheap food options (or very healthy ones). It confuses me, as I sit eating my bag lunch every day and watching Daily Show on my iPod.


@TheBourneApproximation I guess? I think it's just completely outside my worldview, though. Like, even the two weeks I spent last summer living in a hotel room, getting up to catch the 6am tides, and with all meals paid for, I still made a sandwich most mornings. It just never occurred to me to do otherwise.


@MilesofMountains The cafeteria where I work has stuff that is as cheap or nearly as cheap as what I would make myself, and most of the places around me offer a discount to people in my hospital.

Also, I've wasted too much money on "brilliant" meal ideas that (sometimes legitimately) got put off until post-spoilage. I figure I'd rather waste some money on something I actually get to eat, than a bunch on something I don't.


@MilesofMountains I bring my lunch when I have leftovers from the night before's takeout.
But now that I'm being all responsible and cooking family dinner every night, there aren't any leftovers for lunch (the leftovers are for dinner later in the week).
So I buy lunch every day. Jimmy Johns twice a week. Minimum.


@themmases Ah, maybe that's the difference. Getting a sandwich in town is about $8-$10, unless you go to McDonalds, and my weekly grocery budget is $80, so that would be more than half my food money going to eating lunch, and I don't even like sandwiches.


@MilesofMountains I am guilty. I get lunch from the Whole Foods across the street almost every day. Like, I am on a friendly chat basis with at least six of the employees there and actually became IRL friends with one of them! I am awful.

On "oh fuck" days, I'll spend like $10 because I NEED the sandwich and the chips and the cookie and the soda, god damnit. But when I'm being good to my poor digestive tract, I'll get a salad from the salad bar. You could spend $10 on a salad there if you're loading it up with chicken breasts or whatever, but I usually just do mostly greens and then whatever veggie toppings look good. Then it can be anywhere from $2-5, which I don't think is the worst thing. If I made a salad and brought it from home, I'd have to wash and prep all the veggies, and eat the same damn veggies until I ran out/some inevitably go bad.

This is how I justify my lunch spending to myself.

My office is moving me soon out of my glorious, Whole Foods accessible downtown location to a fucking office park in the suburbs, what the fuck am I going to dooooooooo


@MilesofMountains I think I can get out of our cafeteria for $3, and sandwich places around me for maybe $5-9. And if a place charges me $9, I don't go back unless the person I'm with wants to go.

Grocery prices seem high to me in my part of Chicago, so I guess this doesn't strike me as that bad? When I lived in a college town (and, of course, made student money), the difference between home sandwich and cafe sandwich was much more stark and shameful whenever I gave in.


@MilesofMountains Yes, cheap University salad bars! I buy a big salad everyday for usually less than $5, which honestly is not much more than I'd probably spend on making lunch at home since I can't eat a lot of the cheap filler most people have in their lunch: bread, pasta, and rice and such.


@TheBourneApproximation http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/post/19655638331/unfuck-tomorrow-morning

Sam I am

@MilesofMountains Yes, the laziness tax! I used to be pretty good about making/bringing my own lunch. Even though my buying options aren't great, its still mostly what I end up doing. But I try to balance it out with frozen meals which you can usually get for $2 each, a couple of frozen meals and a couple of bought lunches. It evens out?

Amanda McNeil@twitter

@MilesofMountains Have none of you people ever heard of making a giant salad (minus dressing) on Sunday and then grabbing some of it every morning on your way to work? Just toss some balsamic and EVOO on it right before you go out the door and BAMMO. Perfect lunch all five days.

And for the record I have a one hourish public transit commute both ways and am SO not a morning person, and I STILL bring my lunch.


@Amanda McNeil@twitter That's great if you like salad every day and you don't live in an apartment with a fridge that turns lettuce rancid within a day. I can't eat the same thing every day.

Tuna Surprise

Peanut butter sandwiches are my lunchtime staple. Put that loaf of bread in the freezer and make your sandwich in the morning with frozen slices. By lunchtime, it will be defrosted but still kinda cool and taste delicious every time.


Step 11: Leave your knife at work, so now you don't have one at home to cut any of your real groceries. (autobiographical, regarding knives, tupperware, travel mugs, water bottles, anything else that enters the black hole of my office)




@travelmugs or option 2: Work in an office building with a Safeway underneath it. Buy groceries and make your lunch at work to save money. Be too lazy to ever take groceries home with you. Blow your cash on take-out for dinner.


I left my block of cheddar at the office yesterday. When I got home and add to eat a burrito without cheese for dinner, I almost wept.

ayo nicole

I always bring leftovers to work! I cook something enormous - I'm talking like, 8 portions - divy it up, freeze half of the servings for emergencies (eg too drunk too cook), and then FEAST at 1:00. I can't remember the last time I bought lunch.


@ayo nicole Yes, leftovers! I do the exact same thing. Except for the planning ahead for too-drunk-to-cook nights, I should probably start that.


@ayo nicole - THIS. The best is, if you cook stuff which is more portions than you can eat in a week once weekly (Sunday, after brunch and before Mad Men, is the perfect time to spent cooking a bunch of freezer friendly food) you end up with this big variety of random home-made, healthy, single-serving foods in your freezer.

It's amazing for being both healthy, tasty AND lazy. That's a trifecta you have to love.

dj pomegranate

@ayo nicole Samesies! And my lunches are always awesome!


@leon.saintjean I'm even lazier-- I don't make special "lunch" dishes. I generally just cook twice as much for dinner every night and bring the leftovers the next day, or scale up to like 8x if I'm making something easy like this soup.


@cuminafterall Oooh that looks wonderful, and I just bought lentils!


@ayo nicole Definitely, I usually spend a lazy Sunday afternoon cooking a big pot of something and then divvy it up to eat all week, If I'm feeling really industrious I'll freze half so I can eat it later/switch it up with another saved dish.


@ayo nicole I swear by orzo greek salad - there's a recipe on allrecipes that's pretty close to what I do, though I skip the artichokes and olives. (here) I just use it as a starting point & put in however much feta and tomato I feel like. If you want the tomatoes & cucumbers to be at their freshest, then maybe just do a quick chopping-up of them before you box up your lunch for the day. But the pasta/cheese/dressing/onion/green peppers are usually good in the fridge and I can get about 3 days' worth of eatings out of this.


@dale Salads are great for this! Also with the add fresh veggies to it in the morning approach you could conceivably change up what you eat throughout the week which is awesome because variety is the spice of life. I made this salad last week and was so happy to eat it for a few days. I actually find myself almost anticipating the terrible summer heat in Texas so I can just live off of cool salads for a few months. Once the tomato and pepper plants I'm growing with my neighbors start producing I think I'll make the biggest freshest Greek salad ever and just swim around in it.

ayo nicole

@boysplz @dale Great recipes. Thanks!! I'm going to try and bring more salads this year...right now I only get as close as this recipe. More veggies in 2012.


@leon.saintjean So what do you find to be most freezer-friendly? I'd like to maybe freeze some things so I can mix it up during the week (right now I just make a big batch of one thing and eat that for five days), but I'm worried about things getting mushy.


@ayo nicole That looks delightful! I'm getting a bunch of broccoli in a mystery/surprise CSA delivery today so I'll probz be eating that very salad next week at work.


@Alexander Today my lunch is: two bananas @ .59 /lb + half a box of israeli couscous that was marked down to only $.75 (basil and pesto flavor) = approximately $1.00

But then again, I would rather save money on a work-lunch than eat something appetizing. It's just a work-lunch! I wouldn't be able to savour it even if it was a slice of cheesecake and a cherry soda.


@koume This is a really good point. It's not like you're out with people you love savoring something.


@koume It is a good point. As much as I like my co-workers, we all eat at our desks. Not to say I can't and don't enjoy a nice meal on my own, but I'd rather it be at home or a restaurant, not by work desk.


I work in a nice area with grass, and if I bring my lunch, it means more time to sit and read or walk or whatever, and that is really really nice. Now that the weather is improving that alone is incentive to bring lunch.

dj pomegranate

@itmakesmewonder This is my favvvve thing about bringing lunch. When the weather's nice I spent the whole hour sitting on the grass, reading, doing crosswords, and eating. I feel like I am in an Anthropologie catalogue.


@itmakesmewonder This is my strategy as well. My office fronts right on to Madison Sq Park and it is just starting to get DELIGHTFUL out there (don't stalk me too hard, Pinners).


You guys, it's really not that bad, swearsies. I always bring lunch to work, even when "lunch" is something totally sad like peanut butter bread.

My technique is this: minimal carbs (I know!) and maximal fresh produce and foods high in protein. Peanut butter is great, I have a jar of it right here. Also - string cheese, hardboiled eggs, almonds, cottage cheese. I also slice up carrots and bell peppers and bring those in a little tupperware container, and a bag of dried apricots is handy to stash at the desk.

Honestly, this works best if you are able to snack all day at your job. By the time lunch rolls around you'll have already eaten like two carrots and 5 dried apricots and 6 ounces of low fat cottage cheese and you will feel all smug and virtuous!


@insouciantlover also, you should totally keep emergency cookies in your car because this method might make you a horrendous bitch with low blood sugar by the time 5 rolls around.


@insouciantlover I have emergency wheat thins and a bag of those mini Babybel cheeses in the work fridge after this one time where I almost passed out on the way home. Whoops.


@insouciantlover dried apricots are too delicious, and if you eat half the bag, bad things happen.


@nina word.


@anachronistique Coworkers keep eating my mini Babybel cheese! So unacceptable.


@insouciantlover Yup. This is my method as well. I go for single-serving stuff (waiting to use the microwave is annooooying). Since my dinner tend to be carb-heavy, my lunches are protein, fruits, and veg (with a little hummus, just to make things tasty).


@carbonation I bring one babybel a day since I don't trust my sneaky co-workers to not snake it.


@insouciantlover Hee! I just started on a healthy-eating kick because I'm getting fat but also to save money - I do oatmeal when I get to work, yogurt (and maybe almonds) a few hours later, soup or salad for lunch, and then vegetables as an afternoon snack, with tons of water in between. The good news is that yay I get to eat all day; the bad news is that I get SO HUNGRY if I don't keep eating every few hours. I didn't eat dinner until 8 the other night and I nearly cried in the grocery store when my boyfriend and I were getting stuff for dinner.

Point is, I now keep bags of those Riceworks rice-chips in my car because not only are they delicious but they keep me from going into a hunger-induced tailspin.


@MoxyCrimeFighter Yeah, I actually started eating lunch this way as a means to lose weight! Tons of water is definitely key.

I like bringing oatmeal, and sometimes I'll switch it up and do barley or one of those 10-grain mixes. I add whole milk since the fats in the milk will slow the digestion of the carbs and add some agave syrup, which is very sweet but also very low-glycemic.


I work in a department store in a mall. Most of us bring our lunches and then go eat in the food court, so hooray, no one is an outcast! This however usually results in at least one or two lunch-bringers deciding they're craving a Big Mac or tacos and ignoring their bagged lunch. But still!

The trick for getting myself to bring my lunch to work was buying decent lunch containers. I know! I bought some of the Martha Stewart ones and it turns out my salad-to-go container is perfect for basically everything. I usually put a sandwich in the big compartment and then put cucumbers and nuts in the top, with dressing in the container.


@camanda I love your salad to go container! Fun lunch containers are just the best.

Reginal T. Squirge

I don't care what you and TurboTax say, if my work crush asks me to jump off a bridge, you better believe that bridge is getting jumped.

dj pomegranate

@ReginalTSquirge@twitter Srsly. Crush > Apple-bread-blob, every time.

ayo nicole

@ReginalTSquirge@twitter I miss having a work crush that I'd jump off a bridge for. :(


@ayo nicole Me too. Even if he did have a g/f.


I bring my lunch everyday...I tend to graze while working, so I bring stuff like sippable soup, hummus and veggies, cheddar cheese sticks, Greek yogurt, leftover chicken breast, etc. I also think it's a great idea to make a big meal on Sunday and divy up leftovers in Pyrex containers to reheat during the week.


@ImASadGiraffe That's more or less what I do. Muffins, apples, granola bars, and maybe once a week sushi from the restaurant in the lobby of my office building.

sugar cubism

This article was written for me? But here's the thing. There are (according to grubhub) 638 places that deliver to where I work. That's 638 places walkable from the desk at which I've already sat for 4 hours by the time lunch rolls around.
PLUS also whenever I grocery shop, I shop as the Person I Wish To Be and not so much for the Person I Am. As in, a shamefully highhhh percentage of perishables perish.
Sad but true. I've made peace with buying cheap and easy lunches on my lunchbreaks. Usually.


Wow, I bring a peanut butter sandwich and fruit to work most days and it is nowhere near this depressing. Of course, I also make the sandwich at home and put honey or jam or Nutella on it. Maybe that's the secret. ADDED SUGAR.


@anachronistique PB and honey sandwiches! My dad used to make those for us as a kid. Between that for lunch and those microwave burritos we'd eat as snacks after school, it's no wonder my sisters and I ended up with some weight issues...

The Frozen Head of Dorothy Zbornak

@anachronistique I am with you on this one. Peanut butter/honey sandwiches with a banana are actually my current craving. Embrace it!


@wamanda Pooh-Bear sandwiches!


@anachronistique I had a PB sandwich and fruit for lunch this very day and loved it.


@anachronistique Peanut butter, honey and CINNAMON! This was my go-to food at college when there was nothing else to eat. My friend told me about it and it is so, so tasty. On "I REALLY need sugar days," I would take wheat toast w/ the pb, honey and cinammon, add a sprinkle of chocolate chips, fold the toast and wait for it to melt. Tastes like amazing.


Leftovers are my jam. But lately we haven't been producing much leftovers, or else I just let my dude take them for his lunch because it's easier than having the same stupid post-lunch conversation that makes me so irrationally mad at him ("I paid $8 for a shitty lunch at that place by my office again." WHY DO YOU KEEP GOING BACK THERE IT IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE SHITTY?!).

I am very spoiled by working in a place surrounded with dozens and dozens of delicious lunch offerings, though perhaps I should stop being such a lazy asshole and get back in the habit of packing myself a lunch. You can't make me give up my morning bagel, though!


Going out for lunch has become ohsotempting since I got a Real Job and could care less about bringing my lunch for $2 or less on a daily basis. The 9-years-in-college-and-grad-school-me still fights the urge, but man is it nice to go outside for a bit at lunch time.


@phipsi I just got a Real Job, too, but it's more the now-paying-for-my-7-years-in-college-and-grad-school-me that usually helps me fight the urge to go out to lunch all the time. Student loans - good for something after all!


"Wrap a slice of bread around an apple. Delicious."

Cracked up for WAY too long at this imagery. Mmm, apple bread blob thing.

I'm actually not fond of peanut butter at all but otherwise my brought-from-home lunches are pretty much this. I do turkey sandwiches and a piece of fruit. It saves me lots of money because how did I even afford to eat lunch out every day when I was in college wtf!!


Step 8b was my exact logic to get out of bringing lunch today! Although I suppose I had a bunch of vegetables on Monday. Oh well.


Put your keys with your food! Then you don't forget it! Same goes for leftovers that you want to take home when you did go out to lunch and then put them in the office fridge for the afternoon.


@Esmeralda I put stuff in my way, usually on the floor directly in front of the door. Especially good for office potlucks when I baked specifically for this day and really don't want an entire lemon poppyseed pound cake all to myself.


@Esmeralda Orrr you end up forgetting your lunch AND getting locked out of your house in the evening, forcing you to go out for dinner, as well... I can confirm that this happens.


@cuminafterall Where do you sleep when that happens?!

fondue with cheddar

@Esmeralda I always put my keys with things I don't want to forget!

@cuminafterall After locking myself out many times, I finally found a solution to that problem. Don't use the lock on the handle; just use the deadbolt. You need a key to lock it, so it's impossible to lock yourself out!


@spanglepants In my bed. I just have to wait for my boyfriend to get home, and he usually works until 8-9 PM.


For a long time I had a nomadic peanut butter jar that would sometimes come to work with me and sleep there, which means I would not have it when I needed it at home. And then I would bring it back home with me, and the next day would forget to take it work, and I would be totally sad and peanut butterless at lunch time.

So now I have two peanut butter jars. Every day is Bring Your Peanut Butter to Work day!


@PotatoPotato I have a Home PB and a Work PB, too!


@PotatoPotato Smart! I have only work PB because I will eat it all if it is home PB.


@PotatoPotato I have work peanut butter and home almond butter because for some reason in my mind it's better to eat one serving of each than two servings of one in the same day, should I be so inclined.


I used to be all into bringing my lunch to work. I would even make cute little bento boxes. Then I got pregnant and I cannot tell from one moment to the next what may or may not be appetizing/palatable. So I just fritter away all my money on lunches now.


@ghechr Oh god me too. I basically have a small grocery store in my filing cabinet and I still end up driving around aimlessly at lunchtime, trying to find something edible.


@carbonation Occasionally this happens to me. I have literally spent an entire lunch driving around because I can't just pick a place and eat. I just can't figure out what to eat... it's like some sort of temporary, food-based senility.

... I am not pregnant, so I don't know what my excuse is!


I bring my lunch every single day, allowing myself to go out one every two or three weeks. I buy a tub or two of hummus on the weekend and leave it at work with some pita bread, then just supplement with veggies from home. If yogurts are on sale, I'll buy 10 of them and just leave them in the work fridge for snackie poos, too.


@@serenityfound: Ah! Hummus is also one of my regular lunch things!
Lunch twins!


@PotatoPotato Or maybe we are just THE SAME PERSON. Or evil twins. Are you the Shift to my The Hairpin or is it the other way around?!!?


@@serenityfound: Which way means we can both be evil?


@@serenityfound oh my goodness, I totally just misread that as Humans!!


@@serenityfound I started making sandwiches with gouda, spinach, carrots, and hummus. SO GOOD. Only a little more complicated than peanut butter!


@anachronistique OH MY GLOB. That sandwich sounds amazing. I'll have to put gouda on my grocery list for next week. Do you shred the carrots? Also: bread or pita?

@JustAKim Only on special occasions. Humans these days are entirely too fatty and full of artificial hormones and chemicals, and I try to stay away from such things.

@PotatoPotato We'd have to both wear these http://jetkitty.tumblr.com/post/11643083596. Evil PotatoPotato and @serenityfound!


@@serenityfound Whole wheat bread, smoked gouda, and I use the vegetable peeler to get nice long skinny pieces of carrot. I think it'd be amazing on a pita, though! And with other veggies. I just can't bring myself to buy tomatoes in March.


@@serenityfound: Done.


@anachronistique I definitely agree with you on the tomato front. I hate buying tomatoes in the grocery store anyway because they don't taste like tomatoes (thanks for spoiling me, Gardening Italian Grandpa!), but it's so much worse in the wintertime.

@PotatoPotato Cool cool cool


Aw you guys know just what I need.

Nonetheless, I'm afraid my bring your lunch to work would go more like this:

Step 1: Good intentions!

Step 2: Snooze button x 5.

Step 3: BURRITO!

Porn Peddler

@redheaded&crazy I ALWAYS want a burrito for lunch at work. There is def a place for delicious burritos on the way but omg why did you bring this up now I'm going to want to stop there despite the fact that my home-made lunch is already packed...


@redheaded&crazy This is my entire life. You can replace burrito with beer, screwing off on the internet, wearing the same jeans as yesterday, pretending something came up so I don't have to meet my mom for lunch...basically all of the things I ever do.


@redheaded&crazy burritos are the BEST packed lunch! Make a bunch, freeze them, bring them to work, nuke, delicious and guilt-free.

I like these ones: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/addictive-sweet-potato-burritos/


@rowbow Are there special instructions for the freezing and the microwaving? I'm afraid of wasting perfectly good food by ruining it in the freezer.


the worst part is that one of my new year's resolutions was actually to pack lunches 3 days a week. That seems like a pretty reasonable goal. I was even allowing myself some leeway!

Then it went to 2.

Today I had I can't even repeat it for lunch.

Maybe I should make this post my home page.


@redheaded&crazy YOU'RE OKAY!


This post made me hungry, and now I'm eating a peanut butter sandwich. But on a tortilla, because I don't have any bread :(

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Ophelia Roll up the tortilla really tight and it's a peanut butter cigar! (I make Nutella cigars sometimes.) It sounds really weird now that I say it to someone.

Porn Peddler

As a vegan, it's pretty necessary for me to bring lunch (also, on the night shift, nobody is open, nobody will deliver, and you can't leave anyway), and I tried to do it as much as possible when I was night shifting. But I would often stop at Wegmans for delicious soup, kids-with-a-million-allergies cookies, and bread. But definitely less than once a week even! But dude, nowhere in this post does it include, "Your life is horrible because you are the night shift jizzmopper, so yeah, you totally deserve delicious lunch." Every goddamn day when I got to work I would grumpily eat my garbage and drink my coffee as I geared up to hate my life for the next eight or so hours. At least I could go outside and sit on the hood of my car and listen to owls...

Leftovers plus a ton of sliced veggies (and hummus if you feel frisky!) a piece of fruit and a small portion of garbage (COOKIES!!!) is the best lunch though! Today I'm having couscous, roasted peppers and grape tomatoes, and half an enormous portobello mushroom, all of that slathered in some golden curry sauce (yeah that Japanese stuff that comes in bricks, fight me) with a side of steamed baby spinach. And a can of oolong tea. + aforementioned fruits, veggies, garbage. Does this make me seem like a raging goodie goodie? Sorry. I kind of am. HOW DO PEOPLE NOT BRING LUNCH TO WORK? MISTER IS ALWAYS BUYING LUNCH AND I WANT TO SCREEEEEEAM


@Third Wave Housewife dude that Golden curry sauce is the best.
I didn't know it was vegan. Excellent!


@Third Wave Housewife garbage?


@Third Wave Housewife Wait...your job isn't actually as jizzmopper, is it? That was hyperbole in service of the idea that your job is unglamorous?

If that's actually your job, that's....the kind of thing that I think is awesome but may not actually be awesome in real life. (Many things are like this for me.)

Porn Peddler

@Alexander Hi, TWH, have we met? Yes that was actually my job. Night shift at the porn store with an old school arcade. Night shift had the most free time, so night shift cleans the arcade.

@cherrispryte Like, junk food. Some kind of baked good or something.

fondue with cheddar

@Third Wave Housewife When I was in my early twenties I worked at a camping type store (a job I loved, actually) which was next door to a supermarket. I would go there for lunch often, usually opting for stuff like yogurt (no fancy ready-to-eat stuff). Occasionally on a nice day I would treat myself to a box of Ritz crackers, a pouch of sliced pepperoni, and a tub of port wine cheddar. I would sit in my open hatchback in the sun and eat it with my plastic knife. Heaven.


@Third Wave Housewife I'm new here! That's...something! If you, I don't know, blogged about it or wrote a piece about it or whatever else people with weird jobs in the internet age almost automatically do, I will read that thing.

Porn Peddler

@Alexander I have not done that- I'm not sure my boss would like that. It just became A Thing around here.


@Third Wave Housewife I work in a pretty veg-friendly area, but I still bring my lunch every day because 1.) money, 2.) if I eat at my desk I don't feel bad going for a short walk break in the afternoon, and 3.) I have a bunch of food allergies and the idea of explaining them to a cashier in the middle of lunch-rush-hour is horrifying.


@Third Wave Housewife You...have not spewed every interesting detail of your life into a blog? What century do you live in?

Hello Kidney

@ginalouise Golden Curry Sauce? What's this? I'm veggie, LOVE a sauce and I've never heard of this stuff! It's a brick? How do you prepare it? What do you put it on?? Tell me mooooooore, Currymaster.

Porn Peddler

@Hello Kidney It comes in this little rectangular package and the entire brick inside (yes, brick, it's dry and a little oily?/pasty?) is segmented like a chocolate bar, into five little mini bricks. To make it into sauce, you just simmer it into half a cup of water (per brick segment) and let it boil for like, 30 seconds so it thickens, and turn off the heat. voila, curry sauce. Want to make japanese curry? Saute some shit for a while (potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, whatever, it seriously does not matter), dump three cups of water on top, simmer for....a while, drop in curry bricks, dissolve, boil, done. JAPANESE CURRY IS BRILLIANT. I use the little bricks in lentil soup, make the sauce to put on sandwiches, ugh, it's PERFECT.


@Third Wave Housewife every lunch needs a TT (tasty treat)


@Hello Kidney It's awesome! Basically it's just a block of Japanese curry roux that you pick up in the Asian section of your grocery store. Then you just throw whatever in a pot add some stock or water, cook it and throw the curry in at the end to thicken it up/flavor it. It's called curry but it's more of a stew with curry powder in it, I read that the Japanese adapted it from the beef stew that British sailors would make with Indian curry powder in it so you can feel super cosmopolitan/fusiony when you eat it!

fondue with cheddar

@LeafySeaDragon So the next time one of my coworkers is eating something good and I want some, I should yell out, "SHOW ME YOUR TTs!"


@Third Wave Housewife I LOVE Japanese curry! I've never made it myself though. It's just so cheap in restaurants.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Third Wave Housewife Just dropping in to say: Wegmans. WEEEEGMAAAAAANS!!!!! I would never ever pack a lunch if I had a Wegmans to go to instead (I live in Philly and the only Wegman's around is a 40 minute drive!).

fondue with cheddar

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me HELL YES, WEGMANS! Do you go to Cherry Hill? That's my Wegmans. It's 10 minutes away from my work and I only get half an hour, so I can't eat there for lunch either. But shopping! <3 u Weggie!

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@jen325 I completely forgot there was one in Cherry Hill! Hm, that might actually be easier to get to... I go to the one in Warrington, but only rarely when errands take us out that way anyway. Most of the time, we ask Dude's mom to pick stuff up for us because she shops there and we see them once a week. And omg, their prepared foods takeaways are soooo good and cheap! Lurv it.

fondue with cheddar

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me Yeah, Cherry Hill is closer as the crow flies, too. Come to Cherry Hill! There are some other good stores nearby, too.


Added bonus to bringing your own lunch: If you're too lazy or forgetful in the mornings/don't eat enough in the morning to be able to take your horrible iron pills without getting sick, just keep them at your office wherever you keep you lunch. Then, when you grab your lunch, you can just grab your vitamins!


@@serenityfound This is what I do! Or, rather, I just keep the little army line of vitamin bottles by my monitor so they're staring me in the face every morning as I eat my banana.


Thanks for reminding me again that I left my sandwich (that I finally made an effort to make the night before) at home, and now I have to go get something to eat. My hard work was for naught!


This reminds me of my dad. He took a peanut butter sandwich and an apple, usually tied in an old bread bag, to work daily for 25 years. Hardcore.


@RocketSurgeon My dad brings the same thing every day: peanut butter sandwich, an entire carrot, and two pieces of fruit. He's been doing this for basically the past 20 years. Maybe it's a dad thing!


@RocketSurgeon My dad keeps cereal in his office, brings a banana, and buys milk. He's weird.


@anachronistique My dad does this too! Two pieces of rye bread spread with a little apricot jam and an apple. It must be more than 20 years by now. Dads.



My dad has been doing this with his own variation known by its official title The Grossest Sandwich of All Time. YOU AREN'T READY FOR THIS GROSS FUCKING SANDWICH. Every day for like thirty years he has made the following for lunch or dinner: peanut butter and baloney sandwich with mayo on the baloney side.

Fucking gnarly.


or just make twice as much dinner the night before and bring in the leftovers! (sometimes it's very hard not to just eat it all at once, but I've gotten better about that)


Wait what about the dangers of leaving a jar of peanut butter at work so then whenever you are hungry you take a spoonful and at the end of the day you've consumed like 1000 calories of peanut butter?

Also never in a million years does a handful of almonds stave off my hunger until the next meal. I call bullshit, health magazines.

The Lady of Shalott

@mackymoo Dude, no kidding. I don't care for almonds so much, and every time I read an article that suggests "For a snack, try eating a half-cup of almonds! They'll fill you up and keep you satisfied until your next meal."

No, because...no. My hunger is a GREAT AND POWERFUL thing. Eight sad almonds are not going to make a dent in it unless they're surrounded by a gigantic pile of chocolate.


@mackymoo Plus who wants to be the crazy person measuring out their food? Fuck if I know what half a cup of almonds looks like. I usually do a handful and then get mad when I'm still hungry.


@mackymoo YES this is my problem. I always end up boredom snacking and have to purchase things in single servings, because I am unable to resist eating the whole box/jar/bag, like a five-year-old child.


@The Lady of Shalott Haha. DON'T GET ME STARTED ON HOW MUCH I HATE "JUST A HANDFUL OF ALMONDS" ... it's one of my pet peeves in life. I've written a couple very vitriolic posts about it on my culinary site. I can't handle it. Such bullshit.


@emilylouise more like TWO handfuls of CHOCOLATE COVERED almonds am i right?!

(more like three handfuls)


@redheaded&crazy More like three bags of almond M&Ms, amiright


@emilylouise I keep 100 calorie packs of salted almonds in my purse for when I get hungry. *ducks*

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@redheaded&crazy Yeah, I keep those obscenely large tubs of super unhealthy trail mix in my car, along with a tiny tupperware (like, the size your mom would pack your lunch applesauce in when you were eight). I recently actually marked the 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup lines on said tupperware, which I am pretty embarrassed about. So I just refill it in my parking spot at work and bring it in with me.

This is my equivalent to the handfuls of almonds, because OK yes, nuts give you energy, but nuts can go suck themselves. But! If they are mixed with M&Ms and peanut butter chips and raisins and yogurt covered peanuts, I can stomach them.


@Veronica Mars is smarter than me That sounds great, actually. Where do you get said large tubs of trail mix?


Man. If I were not a psycho about making plans to go out for lunch with colleagues, I'd probably go three days a week without speaking to anybody at work. And eight hours of silence is *way* more depressing than pb&j.


@MerelyGoodExpectations Totally valid! And by going out with coworkers you stay connected to the office social scene, which (however weird and lame it probably is) is actually important for your career.


Soup, guys. You can make it on Sunday for practically nothing and then freeze it in its individual container if you're worried about it spilling on your commute. Add some fruit and you're set. Also, I keep dry oats here so I can make oatmeal for breakfast everyday.

fondue with cheddar


Porn Peddler

@jen325 THEY ARE RELATED!!!! Cashew/sunflower butter and an orange?!

fondue with cheddar

@Third Wave Housewife THEY ARE? HOW SO?!

Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm actually allergic to cashews too. And sunflower butter tastes gross to me. Also, oranges are one of the few fruits I can eat uncooked but they're too tart and acidic for me. I'm left with either pineapple or clementines with all the bitter rind picked off, which is impossible. So yeah...pineapple.

I'm a supertaster with texture issues and multiple allergies. Eating is Hard. At work, I pretty much eat Lean Cuisine pizzas every day (which are quite tasty).


@jen325 Almond butter? I was allergic to peanuts as a kid, but did fine with almonds. Tahini's good, too.

fondue with cheddar

@Ophelia NOOO ALMONDS ARE THE WORST. Tree nuts are generally bad. Peanuts are a sad new development, but only in large quantities. So a peanut butter sandwich is bad, but a few peanuts alone or in desserts are okay.


@jen325 why are almonds bad?

fondue with cheddar

@LeafySeaDragon I just have the strongest/most immediate reaction to those when compared to everything else I'm allergic to. They make my throat swell up.


Get out of my brain! [Weeps, stares at turkey sandwich on desk whilst others in the office go out for better, more glamorous turkey sandwiches.]


My general rules are:

*Sunday night make a giant meal that's healthy-ish and can be carried in portions in one tupperware (no separate sides, toppings, etc.) - chili, pasta, curry, etc. Bring a serving to work every morning.

*Keep something salty/crunchy (trail mix), fruity/veggie (apples, baby carrots), and protein-y (string cheese, hummus) in the office fridge for snacking.

I haven't bought lunch in over a year.

Passion Fruit

@km1312 Wow. Baller.


@Passion Fruit ha! thanks. that may be the first time that "tupperware" and "baller" were mentioned in the same paragraph.


eating my salad from home while i read this, feeling superior.

H.E. Ladypants

Man, I just make enough to have leftovers for lunch the next. When the leftovers go in the fridge they go in serving size containers. I add in an apple or some yogurt or what have you for a snack and bam, I have lunch with absolutely zero extra prep in the morning. I shove it all in a bag as I run out the door. If I can, I make leftovers to last a few days!

My lunches are famously the envy of the office. While they're debating the same offerings in a two block radius everyday, I am dining on homemade muffins, soups, shepherd's pie, stir-fry, fancy cheeses, fresh fruit and etc.

(Granted, this plan involves having time to cook dinner but that's sort of another problem.)


All you well-intentioned people saying "Make 2x the dinner and take leftovers!" seem to be missing the point that those of us adverse to bringing our own lunch HATE TO AND DON'T COOK.
At least this one, anyway.

Truth - I whined last night to my husband that making sandwiches is hard. I don't fuck around, guys.

Porn Peddler

@NeverOddOrEven "I don't fuck around, guys" killed me

Sea Ermine

@NeverOddOrEven Maybe focus on things that come already in their own portions and containers? That way the only work you do is tossing them into a lunch bag or tupperware without worrying about slicing and arranging anything. So one lunch example could be a container of hummus (like the whole little tub thing they come in, no need to divide it up into a new container), small bag of pita chips, a bag of baby carrots, a cookie, an apple. You can get hummus things for about $2 at target and the rest are pretty cheap as well. And since nothing needs to be prepared all you have to do is take them out of the fridge in the morning and toss them in a plastic bag. Another option that requires a little more work (but not more than putting things into ziploc bags/tupperwares) is a handful or two of grape tomatoes (you can put them in the ziploc the night before), a mozarella ball in a screw top tupperware thing (or a stick or two of string cheese to save time), an avocado, cookies, salad dressing packet stolen from restaurant/cafeteria. Toss those in a bag with a knife and fork, cut them up at lunch and mix them together. Also keep random snacks and maybe some sliced meat from the deli counter in your work fridge to add to that during the day. Either that or talk your husband into making all of your work lunches (my mom hates cooking and can't cook so my dad packs both of their work lunches in the morning and she doesn't have to deal with it).


@Sea Ermine That makes perfect sense, and I've come across enough simple suggestions to have gotten my shit together by now but I just can't for some reason! It's odd, I'm super organized and anal in the rest of my life.
The fact that my husband is a chef just compounds the problem. He does cook for us a lot, so leftovers do happen sometimes, but he mostly eats like shit at home since he dines like a king at work.
Also, no car. So "grocery shopping" is random trips of whatever we can carry.
I dunno. My brain just doesn't seem to work that way with food. I have an excellent sense of direction, but can't put a respectable fucking meal together. Seriously. "Dinner" when I'm home alone has on more than one occasion been a baguette with butter and/or brie, that I don't even slice. Rip off chunks of bread, use it to dig into cheese, done.

Are there interventions for these things?

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Sea Ermine My emergency lunches, which I have for when I can't (won't) make my lunch ahead of time, require almost zero cooking (the only "cooking" is nuking at lunchtime). They consist of varying combinations of the following items:
--Single serving cracker/tuna/mayo lunch packs from the grocery store (doesn't need to be refrigerated, can live in your car/desk/drawer
--Super cheap one-person frozen entrees, like the $1-2 ones (usually Michelina meals or Celeste personal pizzas) **these need to be bagged with an ice pack for transport at least, and preferably also stored in a fridge/freezer once you get to work
--Those tiny 7.5 oz soda cans, generally Coke Zero and/or Seagram's ginger ale (can live in car/desk/drawer, just place in fridge or lunch bag with ice when you get to work)
--Cabot single serving cheeses. The reduced fat cheddar is good, but the (regular fat) seriously sharp cheddar is SO FUCKING AWESOME.
--One serving of Jello pudding/yogurt/other cup-sized dessert-type thing (Or sometimes just a handful of candy. What.)
--100 calorie packs of "cookies"
--portable fruit like a banana (in the top of the bag!) or an already-washed apple
--really fatty/sugary trail mix for my afternoon energy boost

ETA: keep a (real) fork, knife, and spoon (and maybe some paper napkins) on hand at work. Just wash them after lunch (a bathroom sink rinse + paper towel pat dry has always served me well) and put them back in your at-work storage space of choice.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me Also! "Low Fat Kettle Corn" individual bags from Trader Joe's. They don't really taste like kettle corn, but they're still tasty and satisfy the "absently pop food in mouth regardless of hunger level" cravings.

Sea Ermine

@NeverOddOrEven Could you maybe scope out grocery stores or even non grocery places that have affordable food (like a walmart or target with a grocery section) that are either near your work or that you pass on the way? That way you can feel like you are still buying lunch but not spending as much because you are buying the things you would pack for lunch (like hummus, fruit cups, baby carrots, coleslaw or some sort of pasta potato salad from the deli section, sliced deli meats and a baguette). And if there are extras (like if something comes in a pack or if you get like half a pound of sliced turkey) you can stick it in a bag in your work fridge and then your lunch for the next day is set.


@Sea Ermine Ugh, you have no idea how much rage I have over the fact that there are no grocery/Big Box stores in the downtown area where I work. The only places to get food are Walgreens (booo) or little gas station style markets (also boo. And smelly).
And since I bus to work there's really no stopping on the way.

I am SUPER good at making excuses to enable myself, huh? But on the bright side I did bring peanut butter, bread and an apple from home today since I had them all on hand. Baby steps!

oh, disaster

I read this this while eating the panini I got from a nearby Italian deli. No regrets.

Sam I am

@andrea disaster I brought something, but after the crazy day I've had(I work in public policy), the eggplant panini I got is a nice consolation.


lunches are easy to pack. i like making lunches. to save money i alternate between pbj and a nice meat/cheese. my kids actually love cold pasta (i make a KILLER sasauge bell pepper and parley linguine) and pack something like that when i have it. i try to stick to a drink, sandwich, veggie OR fruit and tasty treat. so lunch is like a ham and cheese dinosaur (sandwich molds! LOVE!), some berries or carrot sticks, a juice box or waterbottle and a small pile of trailmix that has chocolate in it. or fruit gummies, or yogurt pretzels. cookies even.

i hate leftovers. YUCK. lunch rules:
-cheap food tastes awful, seriously. eat less of the good stuff! spring for deli counter lunch meat.
-fun tupperwares or bento make a difference
-juice is bad for you, but really, you know you want it.
-onigiri are fun, and if you make them once a week that's enough for 2 packed lunches a day!
-lunchboxes! i love to unpack my awesome lunchbox. i may or may not have a collection.

school lunch is DISGUSTING. don't eat it! and for adults, if you pack your own lunch you have more time to read.


@LeafySeaDragon Only deli counter lunch meat. I had no idea that there was such a difference in quality until I worked in a deli for a summer during college. Now I almost never buy the pre-packaged stuff.

Also, on the fun packaging thing, Snack Taxis are the best: http://www.snacktaxi.com/sandwich-sacks-details/product/dino-dudes-sandwich-sack.html. A friend bought me that for my birthday a few years ago and I honestly use it every fucking day.


@@serenityfound Snack Taxi!!!


@itmakesmewonder It's my faaaaaavorite. The insides are even made out of a slicker material so if your mustard or jelly or whatever squeezes out of your sammie, you can just wipe it clean with a damp paper towel. And you can toss it in the washer! And mine has DINOSAURS!


@@serenityfound i think i may have to get some of those! i'm kind of love the cute little sistema boxes from costplus right now, i've noticed if i pack food in a clear container my 5yr is more likely to eat it!


@@serenityfound it really is soo much better, and it lasts longer with no creepy texture or watery stuff on it.

Reginald White

Two words, people... Bean Burger. Mash up one can of Goya black beans and add 1/2 cup of rolled oats, a small diced onion, a tablespoon of chili powder, a handful of shredded cheese, an egg, and some salt. Mix it all together, wet your hands, form into four patties. Cook in a little oil for about 7 minutes a side. You'll have lunch for the week (almost) for less than $3.


@Reginald White that'd be good with (just a little!) anchovy mixed in too. #umami


Those who don't want to cook or hate to:
Get Indian Takeout (or your Chinese/Thai favorite takeout) entree. Ask for two empty containers (or use your own Tupperware)
Divide the takout into three (or two) portions. Layer Rice on bottom. Top with delish entree. Repeat.
You've just divided your calories by three (or two!)! AND, you divided the budget by two (or three!). Even for a $12 takeout, that's only $6 for lunch! Not bad.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@workerbee Layer rice ON TOP! Rice won't get too soggy before lunchtime and sauce/juices are less likely to leak.


@workerbee Oh god, are you me? Because I never get Asian takeout without planning for at least two meals. Leftover Asian food is THE BEST.


fresh ground peanut butter? (it's the same price as jarred pb) anyone? so yummy! and good jellies and jams. pbj doesn't have to be boring!


It took a few months to wrangle out the kinks, but I bring my lunch daily now. Leftovers or sandwich/chips/salad combo. It helps that after 3.5 years, I'm totally over all the food court options. So expensive and not really that good tasting!


Don't work in a place that has a farmers' market on the ground floor once a week. It's way too easy to rationalize the delicious breads and tortillas when you're supporting local chefs and artisans. Also, don't get an independent cafe in your building staffed by awesome, friendly people. God Meghan just eat the leftover stirfry.



Yeah it was farmer's market day today. At least I'm supporting local farmers? What kind of sandwich is going to compete with a custom baked spinach and roasted garlic wood fired pizza? (I live in SF, our farmer's markets get intense.)


@MeghanElizabeth I used to work next door to a supermarket! It was the best, since I'd wander over to the supermarket in my lunch break, buy lunch foods, stash rest of weeks lunch foods, then eat lunch. Perfect. Not so easy now in my new job, so I end up buying cafe food wayy too much! (still have desk-side stash of easy-mac though...!)
ETA: a farmer's market though, would definitely one-up that... mmmm fresh breeeeaaaad

Allison @twitter

OMG this couldn't have come at a better time. I've been failing to stick to my "bring every lunch" rule, mostly because I was too aspirational, as you described with that lovely quinoa dish above.

Today's solution? Bring avocado, bag of tomatoes, wrapped up hunk of fresh mozz, and travel size balsamic vinegar and EVOO (I know, who has those??). Cut them up onto tiny paper plate using flimsy plastic silverware from work. Enjoy.

And boy, did I. Why waste precious home time preparing the meal when you can waste stupid, seemingly infinite work time doing the same? REVELATION!


I ate some sad, sad things when I was dirt poor and working at a grubby little grocery store. Bulk bread roll + $.50 pack of peanuts = pseudo-peanut butter sandwich for the depressed and slothful. No apple, because apples take too long to eat and you want to have time to pee on your 15 minute break.

So glad I work from home now. Mo' money *and* happier food choices!

Your saddest work lunch, go!


@VolcanoMouse a 2 for $1 frozen burrito and a juicebox i stole from the communal fridge.


@VolcanoMouse In grad school I worked at a nearby undergrad school and frequently ate only whatever snacks I could pilfer from my office's events supply (read: Cheese Its) or the weekly "tea" . One day, I think I ate three individual baggies of Cheese Its and a pile of cucumber slices...and that was all the food I ate that day. (It was not the best time for my health and wellbeing)

oh, disaster

@VolcanoMouse I worked at a telemarketing place for a summer that only gave two 10 minute breaks a day- they got around giving a lunch break by scheduling seven and a half hour shifts. They had a frozen Michaelena meals machine and the breaks weren't enough time to warm them all the way. Lukewarm Michaelena pasta with frozen chunks is sadness in a cardboard box.


@andrea disaster I think that is the Saddest Thing. You win. :( Seven and a half hour shifts are among the sleazier things low-paying employers can do, too.


@VolcanoMouse I work with kids and sometimes I'm so busy my "lunch" is a handful of Goldfish crackers, eaten on the sly (because if the kids see me eating they immediately demand all my food).

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

Can of Coke and a Yoplait, subsidized by my secret candy stash. This happened SO many times when I was living alone and working in the storage closet/microwave space at the office. Sadness magnified by smell of coworker's buttery microwave popcorn.


@VolcanoMouse My saddest lunch: a handful of pita chips and hummus with room-temperature bottled water followed by stale cookies for dessert, all left over from a work party I wasn't invited to that happened three days before. :(

young preeezy

Ah, this so brilliantly describes about most of 2011 for me, step by step. I caved into buying lunch again, which is usually met with regret come credit card statement.

Peanut butter + bread + apple sound good! Going to the kitchen in the morning and packing my bag and then unpacking my bag at work may SOUND simple and easy in theory, but when actually attempting to DO those things in real life, it surprisingly feels like so many additional steps/things are being added to your day. So once I get past that......... and then past the temptation to "forget" I brought lunch to work and buy something from outside..... I should be fine.

i make lists

I am a fan of the buildable meal. You don't need all these items, but there are so many possibilities if you have a few!

Things to keep in your work fridge:
Sour cream
Cream cheese

Things to keep in your desk/locker:
Wasa crackers
Pita chips
Tortilla chips
Canned/boxed soup
Canned tuna/chicken
Canned beans

You may also need a:
Sharp knife
Can opener


@i make lists I was just thinking earlier today that I needed to bring grazeable items for lunch from here on out. Thanks for making my shopping list for me!


I'm one of those people who is happy to eat the same thing(s) day in day out. A lot of the time I take frozen peas to work. Or lentils and rice. Or cooked broccoli. These are all really simple to cook and eat. I also take olive oil in a ziploc bag (I need a small liquid container or something bc ziploc bags are not good for keeping olive oil in) and English muffins and I have a jar of peanut butter at work. I ONLY like peanut butter on toasted english muffins so I don't have to worry about eating all the peanut butter at once (I know, I am lucky). I usually get my lunch ready when I am waiting for the instant kettle to boil to make tea. I eat really boring and not too healthy though, I can usually barely even be bothered to put a can of soup into a tupperware or make tuna salad or something. I probably do buy lunch at least once a week though, but I work at a university and the cafeteria isn't all that expensive. When I was in college I had red lentil soup from the student run coffee shop ($2.50 for the BEST RED LENTIL SOUP THAT HAS EVER EXISTED) like every day, I miss it so.

Sandra Boiteau@facebook

I can't believe how much money people spend on going out for lunch/coffee every day! A $5 burrito or a $4 dairy-free mac n cheese thing is a once-a-week treat for me, at the most.

Bake a batch of pastries, toss them in the freezer, and pull them out one at a time. Buy a coffee maker. Make a large quantity of stew or a rice or pasta dish and bring it for lunch the next few days. If you find yourself unmotivated to eat fruit at work, cut it up before you get there. Put cinnamon sugar on sub-par fruit. Supplement ramen with a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and pre-seasoned, pre-cooked chicken or seitan- you can even cook it all together. Buy a bento. Read bento recipe blogs. Bento people know what they're doing.


@Sandra Boiteau@facebook Bento people really do know what they're doing. I may not ever form rice balls into cute little pandas and cut seaweed into stars but it's definitely inspirational!


I always bring my lunch and oh-so-healthy snacks, but I'm single, broke and have very little going on in my life, so that makes the whole thing that much easier.


I used to bring my lunch all the time. I have NO IDEA what happened in the last couple of years to make me too lazy. But I am starting an internship that's 5 days a week, so I can't eat out every day. You're NOT ALLOWED MEGAN!

the angry little raincloud

Oh my god. I love lunch. I take lunch seriously. In a previous job, I was the person people came to when they had questions about lunch. Mom in town? Best friend from college? Vegans? Carnivores? Fancy celebratory lunch? Best street meat? Bam! I could give you exciting lunch opportunities. I would spin in my chair, contemplating the glory that would be my lunch hour, that would get me from my desk. I was a championship luncher.

And then I got a fucking job in a wasteland. My last day is next week, and I do not exaggerate, a major factor in my decision was the lunch thing. I have to pack my goddamn lunch? I do not have the mental energy in the morning. My evenings are too hectic, or frankly, I want to be doing something else than packing lunch. (Much of this has to do with me considering lunch my main meal of the day, and I basically just graze at night. Some bread, some cheese, some wine... a bit more wine...). Oh, the irritation of having to plan my lunch in advance. Ugh.

Anyway. No. Not packing lunch. Ever. Mother. Fucking. Again.



I gave up on lunch. I just get a coffee and avoid it. All this business of balancing money with how depressing bad sandwiches are and finding time to cook was too much.

Not the ideal solution though.


How my lunch works:

1) Go to supermarket, buy Lean Cuisines, microwavable pastas, yogurt, apples, little individual bags of crackers

2) Bring them all in at one in enormous bag-lady bag

3) Parcel them out on daily basis

4) Once a week or so, have lunch out; experience it as treat of utter deliciousness

...{okay, 5)have emergency supply of M&Ms/chocolate candy/nuts/caramels/Hershey's Kisses hidden away throughout office, I call it the Strategic Chocolate Reserve}

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@area@twitter I call it (my Strategic Chocolate Reserve) the snack drawer! I'm not saying it necessarily helped to bring me from freelancer to permanent full-time employee in less than a year, but it's always good to have chocolate.


I make my lunch the night before. No excuses!


Oh gosh. Lunch. I am pretty good about packing it 3-4 days a week. But guys it takes foreevvvver. I mean, I *make* it take forever. It doesn't *have* to. If I could just grab a yogurt and a goddamn lean cuisine every morning it would be no problem. But when I'm shopping for lunch things I suddenly become way more virtuous than I am at any other time. I don't want to eat a bunch of pre-packaged junk for my health and also for my guilt over having so much trash after a lunch. So every morning I'm chopping, peeling, cooking, assembling, and pouring things from big containers to my little single-serving lunch containers. Plus on top of all of this I keep a food log and that involves weighing and writing down everything and lunch preparations can easily take a half hour if I'm eating anything more complicated than a sandwich and an orange. And doing it the night before just leaves you with a soggy sandwich and brown apples.

Auntie Maim@twitter

@KeLynn I am pretty careful about food logging and I like to make fresh lunches too -- I prewash lettuce and prewash and chop veggies and keep them in baggies or tupperwares. I prep several days' worth of egg salad, chicken salad, or boiled eggs, beans, cubed cold cuts, etc. Then in the morning I just have to measure my salad makings out of the containers. It's sort of halfway between making everything ahead and making everything day-of. I don't know if this works with your food logging, but I calculated the nutrition info for the veggies I use as my lunch salad base (I did this in the Lose It app, but can also do at nutrition data.com) and then can just plug that in to my log instead of entering the ingredients individually.


the number of times I pack a lunch is directly related to my mood. if I am having a shitty week, I WILL abuse the whole foods salad bar.


@charmcity It really is. I was having a bad morning and aaaaalmost went to Chipotle. I haven't bought lunch in a few weeks and my morning was terrible and I can totally fit it into my diet if I get this, this, and none of that and it's only $5.25 and I have money still for my food budget and it's a three-paycheck month so I'll get paid again Friday anddddddddddd...but I held out. And ate my bought-on-sale Healthy Choice. And it was good enough and my budget is still happy. But it's difficult.


I get a half-hour break per shift and I started saving way more money when I stopped eating at Papa Gino's and started using my food stamps to buy granola bars at CVS!

I need to stop talking about my SNAP benefits I think before the Republican nominees find out about me and before you know it, I'm Joe Food Stamp


I am spending literally all of my post-rent money on food, this could not have come at a better time. Thank you.


I used to work at Crumbs (luxury cupcake store if you've never been to one), and literally ALL of my coworkers would order out lunch or dinner. I never understood it. We were only paid 10-12 dollars an hour (minus taxes..), so ordering food would literally eat up what you had made for one to two hours of work. I think I was the only one who realized this, and therefore was the only one who packed a sandwich and yogurt to eat by myself every day (I always got shunned into taking my break earlier by myself while everyone else waited for their food to be delivered).
I did get something every couple of weeks. No one can be surrounded by all that delicious looking takeout and be perfect all the time

Auntie Maim@twitter

@musicello11 I currently work at a bakery, and my coworkers do the same thing! It is so mysterious to me ... If I and my husband can't afford takeout when he has a decently-paying "real job", how do they swing it? I guess my husband and I have debt we're working on paying down and so on that maybe they don't have.


How timely! I just ordered lunch for some ladies in the office, was very tempted to throw in for an Italian sub with extra everything then thought about stopping hemorrhaging money. The need for vegetables is my classic excuse, ya know, because iceberg lettuce and a pale pink tomato totally make up for eating nothing but hamsteaks and corn dogs all the time.

protip: Put the apple ON the sandwich, maybe with a little honey. Deliciosity!

Auntie Maim@twitter

My lunch scheme for quite awhile has been a 2.5 c Tupperware with salad greens, other veg (usually red pepper and cucumber), and then either boiled egg, cold cuts, and dressing, or a dollop of chicken salad or egg salad. Lately I've been buying a rotisserie chicken to shred for the chicken salad, but when I have more time I cook it myself. One rotisserie chicken = about 1 lb meat = about 6 lunches (it stretches with the celery and pickles and whatnot that I add to make chicken salad), or $1 per lunch for the most expensive ingredient. Altogether, probably $1.50 - 2 with the veggies, mayo, etc.

Then, because I'm hypoglycemic so need to graze throughout the day, I also bring a serving of peanuts, a piece of fruit, and a couple of pieces of cheese (moderately fancy stuff). I'd estimate the total cost per day at about $3 - 4. And my coworkers are usually jealous of how delicious it looks.

This is my new username

You guys, i was a buy my lunch everyday kind person for years! In university even. When I was poor, because I just couldn't convince myself to make a lunch. Then one day my co-worker and I decided we were going to join forces and stop buying lunch. Our basic scheme is we each take a turn buying groceries for lunch for a week and make lunch together.

We have 3 basic main things (pita pizzas made in the toaster oven, sandwiches which we also toast in the oven, and then wraps made with hummus and a bunch of veggies). We also generally get some yogurt and a wee bit of fruit and tiny dessert to round it out and it is awesome. A third person joined our group so basically you only have to shop once every 3 weeks and you always have lunch.

For me, the most helpful part of this is that you have a responsibility to 2 other people. So if I get lazy and don't shop for the week, not only to I have to buy lunch, so do my two other co-workers. Occasionally we will randomly change up what we eat, or someone will bring leftovers for one of the lunch days which is awesome. This has been working for like years.

Sometimes we splurge and occasionally go out for a treat or when life happens and someone didn't get groceries, but we mostly stay on track and have delicious pleasant lunches.


@This is my new username That sounds amazing. What a great idea!

This is my new username

@brista128 It is awesome. The responsibilty to the others is key for me. This week was my week and I was definitely too hungover to shop last night, but i did manage to raid my fridge enough to keep us stocked up for today and tomorrow and now I can shop tonight to fill out the rest of the week now that I am not hungover. If I didn't have two friends to worry about I totally would have just not bothered and ended up eating Taco Time or something today.


DON'T EAT TUNA IN YOUR CUBICLE AGAIN. Love, the person on the other side of your cubicle.


@Myrtle sorry!


Whole Foods shoppers (I'm among you), let me appeal to your environmentally self-righteous side. Have you ever seen the PB&J Campaign? http://www.pbjcampaign.org/ PB&J (or Honey, Bananas, Sliced apples) is vegan and has a very small carbon footprint. I work in an elementary school (where PB is actually a controlled substance because All The White Kids Are Allergic, but I eat it anyway.) I'm an avid carnivore at dinner but I eat a lot of PB for lunch - it's cheap, keeps on the shelf, staves of hunger pangs, and doesn't require me to walk down to the totally revolting teacher's room fridge (or talk to the awful gym teacher while I'm there).

I hear y'all who say the the Latte Factor is deceptive compared to $100 changes in rent (though I'm about to move and moving costs = SUCK). But I like to think in terms of IMMEDIATE goals, not generalized guilt about "oh my god I am wasting money that could go toward retirement." Right now, every peanut butter lunch means I'm $5 closer to an iPad. I still eat out a lot but then I'm aware of the opportunity cost.

I also like to do this lunch: apple or pear, chunk of good cheese, crackers, handful of nuts. I keep the crackers and nuts at work, so all I have to throw in the purse = fruit and cheese (if you really want to save time, cut the cheese into chunks and wrap at the beginning of the week). Sometimes a piece of chocolate or Girl Scout cookies. I also keep granola bars and stuff that can tide me over the hungries all morning.


The "immediate payoff" in my lunch scheme is that I can justify going out to dinner & having an $8 glass of wine. Ok it doesn't really work out evenly, but it helps. I tried to get Husband on board with bringing lunch, but his coworkers are so terrible that it's worth $6-$8 to go get a sub or salad and get the frak out of his office for an hour (an hour! teachers get 30 min at most)

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

Moment of silence for the now-closed Vietnamese sandwich place whose small sandwiches cost $3 and saved me quite a few dollars on food-court lunches, that I didn't know closed because I brought my lunch for so many consecutive weeks :(


@Rookie Uh-oh. You might be the reason it closed. You were gone too many weeks!

TJ Berry@twitter

@Lsach - Here's what worked for me: bring the sandwich, go out for the soup.

If you wanna break your lunch habit it may help to understand the three-part "habit loop": the cue, the behavior, and the reward. I disrupted my lunch routine when I discovered the reward was getting out of the office with a friend and walking around rather than eating a twelve dollar lunch. Getting into the habit of bringing the sandwich and going out for a three dollar soup saved me a lot of money and still left me satisfied.


I don't think I've had sandwiches in YEARS - it's a bit more work but I really like a cooked lunch. Roast veggie salad with couscous is one of my faves.


You're awesome! Every link so far has been 'marinated vegetables and goat cheese on gently toasted focaccia with a side of quinoa salad' or equivalent, with sophisticated container recommendations. Thank god someone knows I'm poor and pathologically lazy.


@Alexander: In Australia, it's definitely worth bringing your lunch and coffee making kit. You'll pay between $10 - 12 for a sandwich, $ 3.50 for the smallest coffee (Exchange rate: Aus $ 1 = US $0.92). Plus to me, the "fancy" sandwiches with feta, pesto, roasted vegetables all taste the same. Since I bring my own lunch, I look forward to it much more; and even if it's a cheese sandwich, a carrot and celery stick add some cruch. Today's luch: can of tuna in olive oil, mixed with braised beans from yesterday's dinner; some red capsicum and parsley (from the garden). A slice of toasted sour-dough bread. Total coast: maximum $ 3.50. Coffee making gear: a shared plunger at work; a milk frother ($ 15 online), and some pouring cream. Ground coffee shared between colleagues; comes to about $10 once a month for my contribution; add about 5 dollars for the half-and-half/pouring cream and that's my coffee suplied for the month for 15 bucks instead of the $3.50 per day. Most of the times I am late getting out of the house, but since getting in habit, I grab my lunch ingredients while I wait for my morning tea to boil. Having a fridge, microwave, and sandwhich toaster at work admittedly helps. I am saving between 100 - 150 dollars a month easily, and enjoy my food and coffees much more.


Your article was great.How about,if you try this Paleo Diet you will definitely love it.


nope. I've hacked this problem way better. cheap smoothies. one day when you have motivation go to Trader Joes and buy tons of bags of frozen fruit. it's pretty cheap there. Put them in the work freezer. Buy an cheap immersion blender (15 bucks)and keep it in your desk. Buy a big thing of protien powered to keep at work. This will be enough to keep you healthfully and cheaply lunched for months and a fresh mango smoothie is WAY less depressing than apples and PBJ. you're welcome.


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