Stop Spending All The Money On Gross Lunches and Eat Like A Queen at Work

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For real though. Stop wasting your cash. Stop wasting plastic and paper. And for the love of Griner, stop wasting the opportunity to feed yourself really fucking delicious food. Just because you work in an office doesn’t mean you need to eat like a schlub. Because let’s be honest, that Chipotle burrito doesn’t make you feel so hot by 3pm and you don’t make enough money to be spending on $14 salads every day. And even if you did, the planet would be so sad at all the takeout containers and other shit you toss away after eating them. Is my Jewish guilt working on you yet?

Does the idea of spending an hour in your kitchen after a long day preparing some hippy brown bag lunch sound horrible? Yeah, it does to me too. Who wants to sit over a pot of boiling quinoa when we have so much to catch up on? Guys, with one trip to the grocery store and one to your nearest TJ Maxx, you can turn your work sitch into a fully functional kitchen and pantry that is just waiting for you to raid it.

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Below are some lists of what you need to keep around in order to make healthy/cheap/easy/delicious salads, sandwiches and snacks at work whenever you like. All you need is a teensy bit of space in your cubicle or office, to carve out a spot in the communal (and most likely terrifying) fridge, and like one trip to the grocery store every so often.

The Hardware – I got almost all of my stuff at TJ Maxx and The Dollar Store for less than $10. This stuff will live in an empty drawer or filing cabinet in your office or cubicle. Nobody has to know. So profesh.

  • 1 microwave safe bowl
  • 1 plastic cutting board
  • 1 sharp knife
  • 1 strainer (for canned goods)
  • 1 can opener
  • 1 bag of Ziplocs/a few reusable containers

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The Pantry – This list is really just a suggestive jumping off point. Anything that doesn’t have to be refrigerated and that you might like to add to a salad or sandwich goes in the pantry. And it all lives in the same place as your hardware.

  • Condiments: a bottle olive oil, a bottle vinegar, peanut butter, soy sauce
  • Cans of things you like on salads (I’m into hearts of palm, garbanzo beans, and artichoke hearts)
  • Salt & pepper (and other dried herbs you might be into)
  • Dried fruit, nuts, or seeds
  • Peanut or almond butter
  • Crackers

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The Fridge – Here comes the endless salad bar and sandwich station of your dreams! Below is a list of what I generally keep in my work fridge, but don’t let it stifle your lunchtime fantasy. The only trick here is muscling your way into a communal office fridge and finding some space for your stuff. You can see above that I just took over an entire crisper drawer with my bag because, let’s face it.

  • Lettuce/greens (I like romaine, fresh kale, or spinach)
  • Bell pepper
  • Carrots
  • Hummus
  • Sprouts
  • Cheese
  • Tortillas/bread
  • Mustard
  • Deli meat/veggie slices
  • Fresh fruit (berries, melon, cherry tomatoes, etc)
  • Cucumber
  • Hardboiled eggs

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Once you have your hardware set and a good stock of pantry and fridge items rotating, you can eat exactly what you like every day! Maybe you want a hummus wrap with fresh veggies one day, and maybe you are into a chopped salad with avocado and cheese the next. Oh, you’re trying to eat more protein? Make lettuce wraps with some romaine and a few deli slices/hard boiled eggs/chickpea salad.

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See how easy?!

Stephanie Goldfarb is a social worker living in Chicago where she spends a lot of free time cooking hella good food to raise money for hella good causes. She also brings queerness to unsuspecting television viewers as a contestant on Food Network's America's Best Cook. Stephanie has Masters degrees in both Clinical Social Work and in Gender Studies, but prefers writing recipes much more than journal publications and case notes. Raised in a big, hungry, food-obsessed Jewish family, Stephanie learned how to cook at the age of six, and considers making food and feeding people the best parts of her life. Aside from queer sex. Because thatÕs pretty awesome. Follow Steph on Twitter for fun recipes and other food-related musings.

Stephanie has written 5 articles for us.

27 Comments

  1. Ok, so I need a “Stop Spending All the Money On Gross Lunches and Throw these Five Things in Your Backpack that Won’t Smoosh, Won’t Go Bad When You Forget About Them For Weeks, Won’t Spill All Over Your Papers and Don’t Require A Back Brace Afterwards” post.

    This is really cute though! Someday, someday…

  2. For people who want protective containers that aren’t squishy & will protect the insides as well as insulate them, I use & recommend with an accompanying & any reusable to-go utensils as necessary. Lunchbox-like things work particularly well if you don’t have a fridge or designated storage at work & if you do, they are still good transport for any days you are particularly prepared to bring stuff (e.g. you have leftovers from last night). Tiffins are particularly great because they are already compartmentalised & are liquid-sealed after you clamp them, so you don’t need to put things into tupperware or plastic bags. Remember not to microwave metal, though!!!

  3. This is so great! Your Jewish guilt is totally working on me. I actually already have access to ample supplies at work — I just never go to the grocery for the fresh vegetables part. I should really do that.

  4. About to become really relevant for me!
    Also, I saw your photo and was like what, you look familiar, how!

    It couldn’t be that we’re both in Chicago.. but then I finished readin’ your little blurb and realized it was from the America’s Best Cook previews I’ve been seeing on T.V recently.

    Way cool!

  5. Sometimes I forget that I’m an adult… until I have to pay bills. But this article makes me feel like I can be an adult all the time. Or at at least I can be one inside my cubicle.

  6. I keep this same type stash in my home fridge because my co-workers would totally steal from me if I kept it in the work fridge. Seriously though, I’m the only person at my job that doesn’t leave for lunch everyday and I always have extra money for happy hour

  7. My friend and I were just talking about how we get made fun of at our respective jobs because we’re the only ones who bring normal, recognizable food into work – vegetables that look like vegetables, for example. (Clearly we should respond by going one step further and stocking even better food at the office.)

  8. I have come all the way to this website today to thank you for this post Stephanie – I’ve been doing this pretty much every day since you posted it and it has changed my life. I get all of my five a day at lunchtime now!!! Which means I can totally have supernoodles for tea and not worry about my bones and organs!

    The only thing is not making myself amazing tortilla wraps with broccoli and avocado and mackerel and *everything* at 10am, 11am, 12.00, 1pm, 2pm….

    Nom nom nom. Thank you so much!

    • YES!!! I love this. I love it so much. And yeah, I totally hear you about the tortilla wraps… I eat them at all hours because c’mon it’s healthy? Maybe my next post should be Eat Like a Queen At Work Part II: Moderation is for Winners. Naaaahhhh….

  9. Word. This post is a great booster for a new start to a new year! You have inspired me to bring fresh things into work! I already have the pantry started- stocked with rice crackers and granola but I never thought of bringing my fridge stuff in on Mondays for the week. A BIG thanks!

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