Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Office Lunch Ideas

How many people have suffered from a purloined lunch at the office?

I know I have.

I'm not sure how frequently it happens -- I know that I had a couple of Amy's Teriyaki Bowl TV dinners stolen from our office fridge last year, and enough people complained for there to be signs, e-mails, etc. I'll be honest -- the first time my frozen dinner was stolen, I figured it was an accident and just wrote a pissy note on Facebook (where I'm friends with many co-workers). The second time, I took it personally and stopped bringing in frozen dinners unless absolutely necessary. Now, I'll either bring in homemade leftovers that don't seem to get touched nearly as often as TV dinners do, or I'll bring in portable, microwaveable lunches like Progresso soups that I can stash in a filing cabinet along with an iced tea and piece of fruit or yogurt.

Still, whenever I make leftovers I usually intend them for consumption on another night during the week (to avoid cooking after work, or to accommodate one or both of us having plans after work) so I usually don't have a lot to bring into the office. And, as many options as there are for canned soup, a girl gets sick of it after a while.

So here I'm brainstorming ideas for office lunches. The requirements are:
  • Must be (relatively) healthy and balanced. No lunch of three Snickers bars here, as tempting as that may be.
  • 9 times out of 10 I eat lunch/work at my desk, and I get pretty cranky when I don't eat on time. So going out, or delivery, aren't preferred options. (Plus there aren't a ton of options where I work)
  • Must be either something I can stash at my desk (i.e. doesn't need refrigeration) or something I can believably put an "I spit in this" Post-It on to deter thieves. (Actual spitting not required, just can't be a TV dinner).
OK. With that said, here are some ideas. I'm starting off with my typical lunch:
  • Can of Progresso soup. I stay away from the super-creamy, high-calorie ones so think Garden Vegetable or Manhattan Clam Chowder. 1 piece of fruit (think apple or orange) and/or 1 Yoplait Light yogurt. Approx. 400 calories.
  • Price Chopper sometimes has these mini shrimp cocktails on sale that make great portable lunch options. Stash them in a lunch bag with a piece of fruit or some nuts and you're good to go (risky, but I haven't -yet- had problems with my reusable lunch tote). Approx. 400 calories.
  • Salad. I like a similar-but-not-quite Cobb salad: organic baby lettuce, shredded carrot and red cabbage, avocado, bleu cheese crumbles, tomato, cucumber, garbanzo beans and light raspberry vinaigrette. Approx. 500 calories.
  • Container of hummus or guacamole and baggie of carrot- and celery-sticks. KIND bar (I like these because they're filling and low-glycemic, so you don't get the sugar rush and crash two hours later) or a banana. Approx. 500 calories.
  • Container of peanut butter, with crackers, celery sticks and raisins. Approx. 600 calories.
  • Pre-cut cheese, crackers. A baggie of grapes and apple slices. Approx. 500 calories.
  • Veggie sushi rolls. I'm partial to cucumber and avocado rolls. Make sure to pack some soy sauce. Add a baggie of edamame (I like mine with extra salt). Approx. 700 calories (at least for the size edamame that I pack).
What are your alternative lunch ideas?

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