Office Lunch Blues

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Office Lunch Blues

By Jonathan Able

Washed out pictures of businessmen and women in over-starched dress shirts and blouses seated at rolling office chairs, staring blankly into outdated computers, and helplessly nibbling at a classic PB&J are probably racing through your head. Right?

Because that’s how I used to look at office lunch.

As a relatively new entry into the professional work world, I was clueless when it came to eating at work. I guess you could say I kind of went through phases. During my first phase, I would tote a little baggy to work everyday, similar to what I used to do in grade school. Lunch would generally consist of some-sort-of-lunchmeat sandwich, a bag of ruffled potato chips, and an apple. All that was missing was a juice box and a note from my mother.

Phase two was a little less planned. Most days I would bring some sort of a freezer meal, or a just-add-water type of lunch. But I would eat it right out of the microwaveable box. So unsatisfying. I quickly discarded this idea and went on to phase three.

Phase three…fast food junkie. At noon every day, I would religiously hit up any one of the fast food chains circling our office. Unfortunately, while I’m not knocking fast food, because let’s be honest, there are some reasonable choices out there these days, it really became expensive and, well, a little unfavorable to my waistline.

So. How did I overcome my corporate midday melodrama? I’ve got five tips that have helped me changeup my daily lunch hour. It’s not a perfect science, but I’ve definitely departed from my previous lunchtime lurch.


Plate It
If your office or place of work has a small kitchenette space, use it! Eating your prepackaged meals or fast food (guilty!) out of the boxes and bags they came in can be kind of discouraging. Try plating your meals on washable, reusable dinnerware. It will help make them more appetizing to look at and eat, and by using reusable dishes, you’re also giving a tip-of-the-hat to the environment.

Some Assembly Required
I realize that not everyone will be able to take away this tip, but if you can, it’ll change your life. If you’re office has the luxury of a toaster, microwave or toaster oven- well then, get to toasting! Bring your lunch foods from home and then assemble them at work. Take the extra bit of time to toast your bread or melt your cheeses. Reheating last night’s pizza in a toaster oven compared to a microwave will make all the difference!

Leftovers Beat a PB&J Any Day
Bring your leftovers from last night’s dinner to work for lunch. Reheat it in your office microwave and enjoy what will surely be a more delicious meal than a standard lunchmeat-surprise sandwich and bag of ruffled potato chips. Also, your co-workers might be impressed with your culinary skills, which is always good for street cred- if you know what I mean.

Bring Extras
Since you’re bringing leftovers, why not bring a little extra to share with your officemate? Being social at lunch can help make it seem a little less humdrum, and you might just make a new friend. Consider forming a lunch group with your officemates, where each person rotates bringing a dish from home. You’ll gain new recipes, and probably save a little bit of money.

Don’t Be Afraid to Splurge
Being chained to your desk all day long is really detrimental to your psyche, and in the long run can even be counterproductive to your workflow. If you can, force yourself to break away from your desk and treat yourself out to lunch at least once a week. Invite a friend or co-worker and meet for a quick bite, like a soup and sandwich, or try that new café that just opened down the street. Your weekly lunch date will give you something to look forward to, and help break up the rest of your workweek.

Hope you can find something helpful! What do you normally bring for lunch?

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Reader Comments:


i love all these ideas. i need to more healthy recipes at my age.

By Benita Wheeler on July 03, 2011


My lunches are usually dull too. I've tried to spice it up. I put paprika in my ham salad, but to no avail. Hopefully I'll get some tips by watching Extreme Chef tonight on Food Network at 10 PM.

By Golf Ball Bill on June 30, 2011


Leftovers do not beat a PB&J anyday! Why are you hating so much on PB&J? What's wrong with ruffled potato chips? JK, this is a helpful blog post.

By Anonymous on June 28, 2011


Great! I really enjoy reading your blogs!

By Pam on June 28, 2011


Deilia, I love, love, love Shepard's Pie! What a fantastic idea, thanks for sharing!

By Jonathan Able on June 27, 2011


Thanks for the reminder Jonathan. We've all fallen into the fast food hole. I'm currently working my way back to the top with leftovers instead! Today's lunch: last night's homemade Shepard's pie (southern style) and mac & cheese. Come on 12 o'clock!

By Deilia on June 27, 2011


I am really enjoying your blog!! Thanks for the great ideas. Cindy

By Cindy Edwards on June 26, 2011


I love your blog!!! Great ideas smile

By Megan on June 24, 2011


I spend my work day inside a car. Any suggestions for the mobile office?

By Christopher on June 24, 2011


As always Jonathan, I love your post...I just wish I was in the office some days when you were looking for some street cred!

By Libbie Summers, Senior Food Editor for Paula Deen on June 24, 2011


I couldn't agree more! Especially about using a real dish. I work in TV where a typical day lasts 12.5 or more hours. Sometimes a day of work means breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. Why shouldn't you enjoy your meal at work the same way you would at home? Make the most of your lunch break and take the time to treat yourself the same way you would after making a home cooked meal - it's just a work cooked meal instead! Thanks, Jonathan. Looking forward to the next post!

By Lindsay Calhoon on June 24, 2011

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